Right after Christmas, or so it seems, all the retail stores start gearing up for the next big money-making holiday. Yup, I'm talking about Valentine's Day. Personally, I enjoy the holiday. It's an excuse to celebrate and have some fun in the cold winter months (although it's been very warm down in southern California this year!). I enjoy putting together little treats and making valentines with the kids. And of course, what's Valentine's Day without some yummy desserts. And yet, as fun as it is, usually all these things become tucked away in drawers or even become clutter that is thrown away. Besides, what does a little cardstock heart really say about love? This month, let's take a journey and consider ways that we can give love to our families---ways that may be intangible, yet are gifts that minister to them deeply, way beyond Feb. 14. Most of these gifts do not cost a lot, but at the same time, they cost everything. They are priceless because most of them cost us in other ways: our pride, our time, our convenience. It may even require dying to ourselves, which may be the greatest gift of all.
From Monday to Thursday each week, I'll be looking at a special gift we can give to our husbands or our children, nine gifts apiece. It will take me all month, past Valentine's Day, but then again, who's counting? I hope that these are gifts of love that you can give throughout the year, not just in February.
This past month, I started teaching a Sunday school class for moms called For Better or For Best. In this class, we started out by looking at marriage as a ministry which requires our highest commitment, something we pour ourselves into. Often times, our children do require more of our energies and attention, but I want to challenge you this month to consider your husband first, especially if you haven't thought about him for a long time.
These gifts are not in any particular order and I will keep them G-rated, just in case you have little people looking over your shoulder! I got the idea for this series from the book When Husband and Wife Become Mom and Dad by MOPS leaders Elisa Morgan and Carol Kuykendall. They had a list of these gifts but I wanted to challenge myself to go a little deeper.
The first one on the list was the gift of companionship. According to Willard Harley, author of His Needs, Her Needs, recreational companionship, is one of the top 5 needs for men. Interesting, huh? This entails simply hanging out together. Ideally, it would be a mutually enjoyable activity, but the greater gift is when we are willing to do something with our husbands that they like, even if you aren't particularly a fan of it yourself.
It seems that when we first started dating, my husband and I had a lot of things in common. We went on hikes, exploring the parks in beautiful Oregon. He loves the outdoors and wanted me to see all the places he loved. And so what did I do? Like any other girl interested in a cute boy, I went along with it! I remember climbing up to the top of Multnomah Falls, hiking up trails, and spending all day in physical activity...and thought it was fun!
But now? To be honest, once we got married, I can count the number of times we have gone hiking on one hand. What happened? I think the ugly truth is out: I did those things with him because I wanted him to like me and think that I'm the girl for him. I really don't care for nature all that much as he does. I'd much rather stay inside with a good book and read or in the kitchen baking up something yummy to eat.
What I'm beginning to see is that the real gift is not about the event or activity in question. It is about our willingness to sacrifice our own schedule or agenda for the sake of another, to give up our personal comforts and interests to enjoy time with our husbands, even if it means we do not accomplish anything for ourselves. I believe that this may be what makes companionship such a special gift for our husbands.
What is something your husband enjoys doing but you don't? Why not take some time this year to invest in him, learning about that interest. It could be a hobby or sporting event. Even if it isn't on your list of "fun ways to spend my time" it may be worth at least showing you care about the things that matter to him.
Or is there a new hobby or interest that you can pursue together? Is there something you both have wanted to do, like learning swing dancing or gardening or geocaching? This can be a wonderful way to work in some regular date nights throughout the year, doing something fun for just the two of you. Surprise him with classes or tickets or just planning a time in your schedule to focus just on him.
The point of this gift is not serious talk and deep discussion. The gift is simply having fun being together. Got something in mind? Then go for it! I'm sure he'll love it!