His Success is My Success

Last week, my husband and I watched the American Idol Farewell Season premiere, and something happened that made us cringe.

Yes, there was a fair share of bad auditions, but these (honestly) make me shrill with delight. What really charred our appetite was an audition featuring a husband and wife, individual contestants, who happened go into their audition at the same time, with their baby girl. The wife sang, got told she was good…but just not good enough, and that her baby was distractingly cute. The husband got put through the next round…To make it more painful, after the wife was rejected, she held the baby and watched the judges ooh and ahh at her husband’s talent, literally inches away.

As if this wasn’t heart wrenching and awkward enough, what followed made my husband and I go to bed tossing and turning. In a candid, yet skillfully captured, moment, the wife is in tears, and she turns to (and on) her husband and says “I’ve never been good enough…I watch you follow your dreams…” through her sobs.

My husband and I looked at each other and back at the screen and made a series of grunts and groans and “AGHS” -it was literally painful for us to watch…

And the main reason is because it was way too familiar.

It hit so close to home for us. We’ve had that conversation. I’ve shed those tears. Will’s looked at me with the same surprise at the pain. We both resonated with the wife who just felt shattered, and had compassion on the husband who had no idea what he was doing could cause such pain.

We walked upstairs and Will said shyly, I just can’t stop thinking about that couple. It literally stung our hearts for a solid amount of time.

I knew marrying a pastor had it’s share of trials and joys: lack of privacy, unwarranted exposure, late nights and a full time (unpaid) job for me. But I never could have imagined the sense of competition I would face.

No…I don’t want to steal Will’s electric guitar and be the star of the show. I don’t want to be a worship leader aside from with my husband. But there were months when I would get stopped in the grocery store, or calls at work (when I worked at the same church as Will) where people would ask me if I knew the worship leader, because he’s just so darn talented. 

And, just to clear the air, I totally agree, my husband is hot and talented and humble as all get go. But I just had begun to hear so much about him, and nothing about me, the wife who stayed in a city she never wanted to live in, who sacrificed time with her husband, time as a family, and time for herself in the name of ministry, the wife who stays home and works hard to create a refuge for her family, and for the rotating door of guests…And I felt lost in the midst of the Costco runs and late night meetings. 

So…we fought. Multiple times. About the same thing. We often didn’t know it was about the same thing, but the same hurt came up every time…I gave (insert career, ministry, comfort, vacation) up for you. I never wanted this. I am more than this.

In the midst of wanting to be noticed, I lost my focus that should have rested on being my husband’s best friend. 

So, when we see this displayed to America across the screen in our living room, fighting everything in us not to jump off the couch and shut it off in aching discomfort, we recognized all kinds of feelings we’ve been working through. Will knowing what it’s like to be the husband who just didn’t know, but also being able to look at the wife with complete compassion, because, after holding and fighting and entering the hard conversations, he is starting to get what it’s like on the other side, too.

And him knowing, now (after lots of “conversations”) how necessary it is for me to hear my frustrations are warranted, that I’m seen first by God, and second by him, and that he’s grateful and proud has made all the difference for us. Will’s success is my success. And he doesn’t carry my passions lightly.

His dreams are my dreams, but he encourages me to pursue my own, apart from worship with him, because there’s a necessity for us to see each other, hear each other, and feel each other cheering. Marriage is a marathon, not a sprint, and so are dreams. What an honor to be in a lifetime job to be someone’s cheerleader, coach, or shoulder, and to root each other on in the pursuit of the big and small things. 

In a time where social media has the ability to temporarily, and superficially, fill the heart’s “notice me!” cry, it’s too easy to get caught up in the search for our own significance. My significance rests in my servanthood-to my husband, my children, my job, and church. I don’t need extra merit or a name tag because I know my biggest fan is waiting for me at home, to hold my hand as I rest easy in bed. I don’t need the approval of man, because the approval of man is trumped by the approval of God, and I have that stamp sealed on my heart. 

And we’re still in process. Sometimes, a lot of times, the great green monster makes it’s way-one instagram picture, one conversation, one rejection can get me spiraling-but there’s grace in the growing. And Jesus promises that he’s just not finished with us yet. Believe it.