One of the exceptional experiences I have had in later life is working together with my wife, Mary K. It is a certain kind of union to spend leisure time together, or to support one another on our separate endeavors, or to cooperate in childrearing, or to come together for physical touch. But it is another thing to collaborate on an important job in unknown territory. We have had to take on such a ministry task, one that requires us to rely on each other. However worthy the work, it is not an easy thing for two people to labor side by side, sometimes in close quarters, for an extended time with many unknowns. We have been married for over three decades, and we have only recently needed to do just that. As I look at it now, it seems like God has been leading us all along to this new thing: working this closely together. It’s a new level of marriage for us.
But as I look at it, I also see that we could only have reached this point by gender. We have arrived here by following our gender callings and focusing on our difference. That made specialization with appreciation possible. For that is what close collaboration requires: consistent confidence in your gifts to help the other, along with profound appreciation of the other’s different gifts, as who she or he is, for you. It is like the Star Trek re-boot movie (2009, w/Chris Pine), maybe the best one made, where the crew starts out in the wrong places. But when they each find the place they should be in relation to each other, the power is released to do extraordinary things. I am getting that with my wife. It is a place of deeper need, of deeper dependence, of greater power.
We still fight. We had two real strains in the last three weeks. We were under very trying circumstances in the face of the unknown and the mutual support broke down. In the one, she thought that I had messed everything up (I hadn’t). In the other, I thought that she had messed everything up (she hadn’t either). So we failed each other. But the fights have changed over the years. As we rehearse the old ground of our recurring weaknesses, and traverse the now quite familiar topography of how we see the world differently, we arrive much faster at where the real issues lie: can she trust in the Lord enough to overcome her fears? Can I trust in the Lord enough to humble myself?
Recall that they could only enter Noah’s ark two by two, male and female (Genesis 6:19, Genesis 7:16). Though singly we can do certain things, other things take the two by two. As I said, working with my wife is not always an easy thing. But it is a glorious thing.