Yesterday we started our first day of homeschooling for this year. I always have the kids wear the same shirt (and one day it will actually fit them!) and they hold up a piece of paper that states their name, year of school, favorite color and what they want to be when they grow up. We my oldest son put that he wants to be a knight when he grows up because his God-sister is a princess (yes, that is exactly the reason he gave me and I didn't even ask why he chose it. LOL). It made me start to consider the whole "knight in shining armor" fantasy children tend to have when they are young. So precious.
Fast forward to the time you were dating boys and I'm sure all of you have heard your dad say it at least once to a boyfriend. Tell me if this sounds familiar, "Don't you break her heart" or "Don't you hurt her" or some other comment meant to protect coming from your dad's mouth. See, I can relate a little to my dad because I don't want my daughter or my sons getting hurt by anyone let alone a boyfriend or girlfriend. No, honestly if I knew how and when they would get hurt it would be hard for me to not be waiting in the perfect spot to ambush the one who hurt them. So I know my dad only had my best interest at heart and I know he loved me so much he wanted to try and control something he never could have controlled...my husband's actions. See I love my dad. I was and still am a daddy's girl. For my wedding he wrote me this beautiful short story-poem titled "In The Land Of A Father's Heart". I cried when we danced at my wedding because he was relinquishing his power of protection to my husband. And for a girl that loves her daddy, that was a hard thing to accept.
Here is the thing though. My dad was telling my "man" not to hurt me when in fact growing up that is all I saw my mom and dad do to each other. I didn't understand it then, but as a wife and mother now, I understand all to well. My dad was telling my husband not to do something that he himself was doing. He wasn't meaning to be hypocritical by any means. All he saw was a daughter that he loved and didn't want to get hurt, not realizing he was forgetting about his very own wife.
When our fathers give our men a command such as "Don't you hurt her", they are giving them an impossible challenge. That impossible challenge puts immense pressure on them from that point on. It's not that they are meaning to do so, they are just looking out for their baby girls. But the fact remains, our men will hurt us.
The bible is very clear that every single person we love will let us down at one point or another. If that wasn't the case then we could find someone other than Christ to lean on. Your friends, your family, your husband and yes, even your children will at some point let you down. At some point they will hurt you, either intentionally or unintentionally. When our fathers say to our men they better not hurt us they are in turn setting our men up for failure, because it is an impossible goal.
You may be asking me right about now, "But Christen, what harm does that do to me? I want my man to know my dad expects him to take care of me?" and I do see that point. But here is the catch...it ends up hurting us in the long run. When my dad told my husband this, long before he was my husband, it put a false sense of love on the relationship. By my dad saying this I took it as a sign that if my husband never hurt me then he was my "true love". That in lies the problem. They first time my husband couldn't stand up to this goal I felt depressed. I was so sure he was the one I wanted to spend my life with, but now he had hurt me, my knight in shining armor had failed me. This happened throughout our dating. Little things, nothing major, little fights about things I can't even remember now. It is only by God's grace and intervening that I stayed with him instead of ending it and continuing my search for a man that could stand up to my dad's high standards. Then my husband made a terrible mistake, a mistake that hurt worse then anything he had done or has ever done since. But God works all things for His glory. So I give Him all the glory that despite my husband's mistake I stayed by his side and let God make our marriage stronger then ever before.
As mothers raising children we have to be very careful how we handle getting hurt. My dad set unrealistic expectations on my husband (and previous boyfriends), expectations that he himself couldn't keep to my mom. Our children are watching us. They need to know there is no such thing as a "knight in shining armor". That fictional character is not real life, there is no riding off into the sunset. Marriage is HARD because it is like anything good and sacred and the devil has his eyes set on making hurts the cause of ending something sacred. Our daughters need to know what to look for in their husbands; men chasing Jesus, who are going to make mistakes and hurt us, but that will keep fighting for them until the end. Our sons need to know to seek Jesus and His heart, that no one is perfect and we all mess up and hurt people, but to never stop fighting for their wives.
As a mother I want my daughter to still have her innocence, she is only 7 after all. So she is not ready to hear that her future husband will mess up and hurt her even if he doesn't mean to. But there will come a time soon when I will have to start telling her to look past the facade of "her knight" and see the man God has for her, with the knowledge that getting hurt it something we experience from every single person we love, but to press on and fight for the relationship. For my sons, who again are too young to need to know these things, but someday they wont be; I will tell them what to look for in their "princess". To look for women who can forgive when they accidentally don't tell them how beautiful they look, or if they have a fight and things are said they wish they had held their tongues on.
Lastly, we need to communicate this to our husbands. Remind them of the pressure they were under and the feeling of disappointment they had when they couldn't live up to a certain expectation. And us? Mothers, we need to be able to forgive our husbands when they fall short of making the mark. Heck, if we are being honest, we have done the same to them. Said hurtful things, made remarks we wish we could take back. It is human nature, intended to assure we would only lean on one person throughout life in 100% security, and his name is Jesus Christ.
Because in the end we all want our children to have a better marriage then we have, and the only way to help that happen is to love, serve, and forgive. Because ultimately that is what our children are watching. They are watching how we love each other, how we serve each other and how we forgive each other.
Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony ~