The Gift of What You Thought You Couldn’t Do - I Do Every Day - November 6, 2019

The gift of what you thought you couldn’t do

By Janel Breitenstein

A friend of mine recently enlisted my father-in-law’s help to lay laminate flooring. 

“You know what the best part was?” she marveled. “He held himself back so I could learn and do it myself. I’m doing the next one on my own.”

I thought of this recently in one of those weeks where my husband and I were moving so fast, the wind moving past doubled as exfoliation. 

My husband prepped for his talks at a leadership training, then headed out for a conference. Overloaded, he tasked me with managing a timely real estate contract. 

I was eager to help, but daunted. My gifts lie squarely with creativity. I do words and music and people; not numbers, tedium, or contracts. And if I didn’t manage this correctly, we could be “gifted” a lawsuit. 

Yikes.

I nodded, rearranged my expression into I’ve-got-this mode, and remembered the excellent wife of Proverbs 31: “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard” (verse 16). 

Or in the fond words of American lore: Put on your big girl panties and deal with it. 

I dialed our lawyer, issued about 23 emails, spent a couple of hours on the phone, and occasionally texted my overloaded husband a question. He’d answer the biggies. But for most of my queries, his response was the same: I’m trusting you to manage this.

And perhaps that was the most empowering part. My husband stepped back and believed I could. In the process, he instilled me with confidence. 

No matter our gender, it can be hard to trust a partner with the big rocks. The possibilities for ineptitude, inefficiency, or danger loom large.

But what if micromanaging stifles our spouse’s growth? What if it prevents him or her from maturing into a strong, skillful partner? 

Obviously, God has given us wisdom to discern when someone’s not ready for a particular responsibility (like when a spouse struggles with addiction, for example). And sometimes, our spouses should be developed in a skill set rather than lobbed into the deep end. 

But sometimes, we give our spouse a gift in being okay with a margin of failure or flexibility. In stepping back and saying, “You can.”

When we feel known and accepted in our marriage, it gives us the freedom to thrive or even fail.
 

The good stuff: And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2

Action points: What effects do you witness in your marriage and your spouse when you trust him or her as a capable partner? If you’re in a healthy, safe marriage—pick a single area where you could take the next step in trusting and empowering your spouse. 

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