To those struggling to support your spouse,
Can I be honest about something here? I don’t like cheerleaders.
Actually, that’s not true. I remember one moment on the bus in elementary school when everyone was telling each other who they cheered for. One at a time, each girl spouted off their team – The Hawks…The Falcons…Pro Cheer...
When they came around to me, I lied and blurted “Hawks” to match the group of petite, big-bowed girls in the seats way behind me, carefully hiding my Limited Too pants with “DANCE” on the sides. I pretended to be a cheerleader then. Not because I thought I would have been a good one, but because EVERYONE that was ANYONE was a cheerleader. I wanted to be an anyone.
The truth is, I would have been a terrible cheerleader.
But then, elementary school disappears in your rear view mirror. You grow up. You get married. Then, you hear that good wives are supposed to be their husbands’ cheerleaders. It should come as a no brainer to support our spouses. We’re supposed to be ones in the front row of their lives, cheering on their major successes and accidental fumbles.
At some point in the game, you look down and see your sparkly uniform and giant pom-poms, and you remember you are not a cheerleader. You’re just a dancer on the bus of a dozen girls who are amazing cheerleaders.
And just like that, you’re ten again. All the other wives are cheering their hearts out, and you’re the fraud on the sidelines, wondering if your cartwheel stands up against their front handsprings. Questioning if the support you’re giving to your spouse is really enough.
Doubting Your Spouse’s Dreams
It was just the other day I remembered this moment on the bus. I was listening to my husband’s huge dreams. Ones that he’d made in the midst of a pandemic, where regular work is as constant as the results on a roulette wheel.
His eyes were lighting up with excitement, and his words were dripping with hope, inspiration, and optimism.
But all I could think about was the fumble.
The unexpected tackle.
Just like any crappy cheerleader would do, I brought up these horrible possibilities. I reminded him of what could go wrong – the blind spots he was having.
All at once, I could see the energy leave his face. The sparkle in his eyes vanished.
And me? I’m ten years old once again, sitting on the bus in my Limited Too pants, pretending to be a cheerleader. But this time, no one is believing me. Not even myself.
How can you support your spouse in his big dreams when things like money, risk, and fear are involved?
How can you encourage lofty ideas when you can’t get past what could go wrong?
How can you be your husband’s cheerleader when you don’t even believe he can win the game?
The other day, I got a phone call with an exciting opportunity. The first thing I did was call a close friend to tell her about it. Before she could congratulate me, she began playing devil’s advocate. “Are you sure this is something you’d really want to do? How can you make that work right now – this year?”
Her words were absolutely valid and not at all out of hatred. But once they were said, I felt the energy drain out of my face. I felt the sparkle fade away from my eyes. With the phone to my ear, I realized what I had been doing to Ben every time he approached me with his dreams.
It’s not that playing devil’s advocate was the problem. It’s that my first reaction was never filled with possibility, but only drenched with doubt. My words were always without even a hint of hope.
If my closest friend doesn’t believe in me, why should I?
If his own wife doesn’t believe in him, why should he believe in himself?
I came home and laid on my yoga mat, contemplating how to be a supportive wife when I’m the worst cheerleader ever. I imagined Ben’s dreams coming to reality. I imagined myself being at his success banquet in the audience. And all I could imagine was his speech – one where he would thank all the people in his life who always believed in him. Would he say my name? If he did, would he mean it?
I realized then that I don’t want my husband to be successful in spite of me. I want him to be successful because of me. Because I never doubted his dreams. More importantly, I never doubted God’s hand in his life.
Support Your Spouse
Friend, our fears can sometimes keep us safe. They can keep us on the lookout for danger ahead. They can even prevent us from doing some really stupid things.
But believing that our fear is what protects us? Or believing that our fear is what supporting our spouse looks like? There’s a difference in holding a “D” and “FENCE” sign and throwing our pom-poms down, dragging our spouse off the field.
As though we have the capacity to keep our spouses safe.
Hey, wife. Or girlfriend. Or friend – cheerleading is hard. Being a spouse is hard. Being a close friend is hard, too.
But in the end, your fear is not what God will use to help your person win the game. It’s your belief in what God can do in your person’s life.
My prayer for you is that your spouse would seek God’s face in chasing his or her dreams, so that you are freed up to be the cheerleader you want to be.
So that the next time you’re approached with a face of energy and hope, you’re not the person to let fear dictate your initial reaction, but you’re the first person to raise those pom-poms and, well . . .
“Use then, O Lord, even my failures and fears of failing to advance your purposes in my heart and in your kingdom and in this world.
My confidence is only in you.” -Every Moment Holy