Christmas Eve morning. 5:30 a.m. My first thought: I want to whack Josh in the face with a pillow.

Christian had been up and down all night- mad about something- so I had been up and down as well. I patted, snuggled, sang, located run-away pacifiers and the like, and all the while Sleeping Beauty with his fifteen pillows in the next room snoozed through the whole thing. 

I considered wielding a pillow in each hand for more efficient distribution of whacks, but decided against it. I needed one hand to defend myself when he woke up.

And I’m being completely serious here. This is no he-he-he-flirting-first-thing-in-the-morning-is-fun pillow fight. This is I-am-cranky-and-wild-eyed-and-about-to-unleash-my-exhausted-fury-on-my-unexpected-husband-with-a-pillow pillow fight.

He wouldn’t even see it coming. Bwahahahaha!

But I didn’t do it.  Instead I shuffled my bleary-eyed way back to Christian’s room and snuggled the little guy one more time.  Why? ‘Cause he’s cute and because I guess it’s not really Josh’s fault that his ears magically stop working while he’s sleeping, now is it?


But as I stood there—exhausted, half-asleep and half-angry—with C happy against me, something came to mind that has hung with me since:

This is what dying to self really is.

Not that I am expert at it. I was about one second from smashing a sleeping man’s face with a pillow, remember.

As a matter of fact, the only reason I understand what dying to self is is because I have fought against it hard and strong for about the last 31 years.   

Because (here it goes!) I am selfish.

(I’d really like to re-type that, pretty it up a bit and go a little easier on myself, but it is absolutely true. There is no way around it.  So instead I put it in bold.)

I have been a follower of Christ for over 20 years, a wife for nearly 10, and a parent for half that.  I should seriously have this under control by now. 

I remember the moment I realized that, after having Edy, my life would never be the same.  And (thank you, Selfishness) it wasn’t exactly a happy realization. 

No more last minute plans. No more “running to the store” to pick up some milk. No more leaving the house without packing and then toting an enormously un-cool bag full of every baby item ever made. No more going to the movies without hours worth of planning.

But, I got used to it.  Sort of.

For some reason, denying myself and my own wants and needs—dying to myself—on behalf of my kids is significantly easier than dying to myself on behalf of my husband.

I can deal with Christian at night without wanting to strangle him. I’m not sure I can say the same for Josh. Even deep asleep, he is fair game for an attack.

Poor guy.

In college, before I was married, I took an Old Testament Survey class.  Though I liked the professor, I remember next to nothing from her class except something she said one time that I wrote in large, bold letters at the top of my notes.

She said, “A good marriage is two servants trying to outdo each other in love.”

It had nothing to do with surveying the Old Testament, but I knew I never wanted to forget it.

Unfortunately, on many occasions, I have.

On Christmas Eve I didn’t want to be Josh’s servant. I wanted him to get up for once and serve me, or, at minimum, at least notice and appreciate my sacrifice on his behalf (the pillow would have really driven that point home, I think.)

But a servant at work is not sacrificing.  A servant at work is just doing their job.

If my professor was correct, to have a good marriage it is my job to serve my husband. Noticed or unnoticed. Appreciated or not.  If I love him, I will serve him.  Even when it means the most awful thing of all—dying to myself.  

But you know what?

Josh stayed home last night. For me.  He took care of the tooth brushing and the bathing and the book reading and the endless ritual that is bedtime so that I could write this post in the relative quiet of a noisy coffee shop. 


He may turn deaf at bedtime, but he pretty much always outdoes me the rest of time.

He loves me, serves me and doesn’t retaliate with pillows.

Darn it, if I don’t have a long way to go.  


Time to brag on your spouse…how do they “outdo” you in love?