If I ever write a book, it might be about being "Husband Of The Year." I am the reigning champion, having held the title ever since I invented the concept about six years ago.
The idea is that I want to be absolutely the best husband my wife could possibly imagine - a far better husband than anybody else's husband that she hears about at work or in the community. Lola is the only one who gets to vote.
It all started when we moved to a new pastorate in Ohio. After a year or so, Lola returned to college to finish her teaching degree. My office was in the parsonage and a pastor's schedule is flexible, so it seemed reasonable that I would take up some of the responsibilities that had previously been hers - most notably the cooking. When she finished her degree, she got a full time teaching job and started her Master's program. She was busier than ever, so I continued with the cooking and picked up more of the cleaning and laundry duties.
The experience gave me a new perspective on the life of a housewife and a new appreciation for how difficult it is to run a household. At times I felt frustrated and under-appreciated. Sometimes I would plan and cook a meal that would come out perfectly - only to have Lola come home late. Occasionally I would cook something that Lola and David Andrew didn't enjoy like I thought they should.
I often found that I couldn't get it all done. I did have, after all, a full time job to do in addition to the cooking and other housework. It was easy for me to feel sorry for myself and to whine that Lola wasn't always doing her fair share.
Martyrdom might have claimed me, but for the Husband Of The Year Award. I realized that God wants me to love my wife like Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. (Eph. 5:25) That meant that I couldn't justify all my worries about whether or not I was being treated fairly. Love for my wife means I should do everything in my power to ease her way, serve her needs and benefit her in life. It is not just a matter of doing the right thing, it is also important to have the right motive.
My cooking and other household duties meant that she could give more attention to her studies, finish her education more quickly, and do a better job getting established in her profession. This is not a sacrifice on my part, but a service of love that serves me too. As Ephesians five says, you should love your wife as your own body. Lola's success in education and in the workplace makes her a more confident and interesting person. Her salary benefits both of us. Her happiness contributes to my happiness. Her accomplishments are a source of pleasure to me as well.
I think my "Husband Of The Year" idea might have started out as a desire to get Lola to acknowledge my excellence as a husband. It was a way to get a pat on the back. I recall saying something like, "I will take care of doing the laundry you couldn't get to, but remember to vote for me as Husband of the Year." I am sure when Lola was especially pleased with some meal or service I provided, I have said, "Just remember to vote for me for Husband of the Year."
But Husband Of The Year became something far better than a way of fishing for praise.
The irony is that as my perspective became more biblical and my goals became more pure, Husband of the Year became a way of reminding myself that what I was doing was for my OWN benefit. It is a shorthand way of saying, "I am not just doing this for you, dear wife. I am doing this for me - because I love you as I love myself. It is no sacrifice. It is not a burden. I am only nourishing and cherishing you like I do my very own body - and for the same reason. Because I love you as my own flesh."
Beyond that, I do it for the glory of God. Even if I never mention it to Lola and she never says a word of praise - God wants me to be the Husband of the Year. Why should I focus my love and loyalty on my wife? Not just because it pleases her. Not just because it benefits me. But ultimately, because it is the right thing to do, and it pleases God and brings Him glory.
Being the Husband of the Year is a rush. Lola comes home with stories of her colleagues who work all day, then go home to do all the cooking and cleaning and waiting on their husbands who don't do "women's work" and who expect to be waited on by their wives. She delights in being the envy of her friends who know that I send her love notes in the lunches I pack for her everyday. She sparkles with a radiant beauty as I focus my loving attention and affection on her in my thoughts, words and deeds.
Everyone should want to be the Husband of the Year (or Wife of the Year). And everyone CAN be.