We were cooking dinner together, the hubs and I, and it was set up to be an absolutely adorable, Insta-worthy occasion. We’d picked the recipe, gathered all of the ingredients together at the grocery store over the weekend (because for the first .2 seconds of our marriage, we were going to do EVERTYHING together, including grocery shop…..which after exactly 2 times, and 2 fights, we agreed was the worst idea ever) and we were all set to make our first meal together: white bean chicken chili.
I’d created a perfect vision for how it would all go. We’d put on some cute music, wear the aprons we got as wedding gifts, laugh and talk about our days, all flirty and adorable. And then we’d have a beautiful meal and it would be precious.
And then, the recipe called for a chopped onion.
Believe me girl, I wish I could say the tears I shed that night were solely because of that onion’s aroma.
But here’s what actually happened:
I had to YouTube a tutorial for cutting an onion, which basically taught me how to throw the onion on the ground. I yelled at my husband when he offered to help. I pouted through the entire meal prep – because I couldn’t use our antique can opener correctly (in my defense, that was only partially my fault, the thing was ancient), because I couldn’t sauté the vegetables correctly, because my husband had to handle the chicken, because we forgot a major ingredient, and because by the end we had a pot of spicy water with crunchy vegetables and rubbery chicken.
We ate in silence (apart from my sniffles because HELLO, crying.)
Now to some, my reaction to the whole night might seem like a MEGA overreaction. Fair.
But maybe you get it. Maybe you know exactly the feeling I’m describing. You know all too well what it feels like to have out of control emotions fueled by uncontrollable circumstances and crippling expectations.
And you totally get why I cried that night. See, I wasn’t crying just because I couldn’t cut an onion.
No, I cried because when my husband leaned in, offering to help me cook, the enemy was busy cooking up a list of tempting lies and offering them to me disguised as truth. I cried because while my husband leaned in to love me, the enemy rushed in to shame me. Where my husband said, “Let me help you,” the enemy whispered, “You are helpless.” Where my husband’s actions said, “I can serve you in this way,” the enemy accused, “What kind of servant-hearted wife are you?”
Where I failed to simply cut an onion, the enemy convinced me that I failed as a wife.
And it doesn’t take much to convince a wife she’s a failure when her impossible expectations have already set her on a fast track to coming to that conclusion all on her own. I’m not sure about you, sweet reader, but my engagement season was full of expectation. It was full of expecting a wedding day that felt like it would never come, full of eagerly waiting to take on my role as a wife, full of eagerly waiting to put my married dreams into action.
And that entire season, I piled on expectations for myself as a wife.
I created this fantasy, one where I knew how to do all the kitchen things, one where I made our little apartment this cute and homey space and filled it up with everything adorable, one where my husband came home to cooked meals (that included properly cut onions when necessary), one where he melted at the comfort his wife created.
And I wish I could tell you that I remembered a few key things before our marriage began, like the fact that I have never been able to cook much of anything, that I tend to make a tornado out of any space I inhibit, and that I don’t necessarily have the best eye when it comes to decorating (apart from Christmas lights being a year-round, staple decoration.)
But I didn’t remember those things. Instead, I cried over a chopped onion.
As an engaged girl, I placed my hope fully on the expectation of who I would be as a wife, forgetting that in my marriage, my identity would still be the same. Forgetting that though the title might change from fiancé to wife, I would still be a redeemed, but sin-ridden daughter of the King, who would need grace upon grace daily as I took on my role as a wife.
So, I entered marriage on a fast-track to disappointment and with a set of expectations higher for myself than even God had for me. I entered marriage believing that to be a godly wife, I had to do all the things. So, when the enemy strolled in with a big platter of “You’re not good enough” and a heaping helping of “You’re a failure,” I was more than ready to dig in.
Because the enemy is crafty, the enemy targets emotions, and the enemy distorts reality by flooding our minds with feelings that distort truth. He will do all he can to shut you up and shut you down. To lock you up in a prison of lies when all the while you hold the key to freedom.
You see, I forgot something vital the night I couldn’t cut the onion: I am Christ’s bride.
Christ died for me to be His bride, long before I claimed him as my groom. He chose me in my filth and sin, knowing fully that I would be messy, broken, and in need of constant direction and redemption and forgiveness and grace. (Not to mention he chose me fully aware that I wouldn’t be able to cut an onion…)
But my inability to meet the expectations I had for myself as a wife revealed this deeper, much more personal and much more dangerous lie I believed: that the frustration I felt as a I failed to meet my expectations for myself as a wife, reflected the same frustration God felt toward me as I failed to meet His expectations for me as His daughter.
What a simple and natural lie to feed a vulnerable wife. With all the imagery of Christ loving his bride and marriage being a reflection of God’s love for his Church, what a perfect truth to twist and deceive a wife with. Why not convince the vulnerable wife that her inability to perform as a perfect wife displeases her husband just like her inability to perform as a perfect Christian displeases God?
Young wife, do not be deceived by the lies of a coward, by the lies of an uncreative enemy who wants to devour your life and destroy your marriage. Do not give power to the lies of the enemy who would love nothing more than to use your marriage to wreak havoc on your relationship with God.
Do not let the enemy cripple you with paralyzing expectations.
Instead, “preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13.)
Set your hope FULLY on the grace that is promised to you. Sweet wife, your hope is not in your ability to perform. Your hope is not in your own goodness, your own morality, your own ability to be gentle and self-controlled, your perfect submission.
No, your hope is in Jesus. Your hope is in your Groom who was and is and is to come. Who lived perfect and then exchanged that perfection for a brutal and bloody death. Who perfectly gave himself up so you don’t have to be perfect.
Young wife, cling to the acceptance you have in Christ, repent often, and set your hope on eternity with Christ. Eternal perfection, dripping with grace – that is the hope you are called to as Christ’s beautiful Bride.
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over your with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17