To put it mildly, my husband is decisive and strong-willed. To put it metaphorically, sometimes getting him to see things my way is like pushing over a very big tree, only your arms are made out of noodles and you can’t find them. (Hidden noodle arms, you know. That’s a thing.) My husband is never afraid to say what he’s thinking, even if it’s harsh, and sometimes he skips the whole thinking part entirely and just jumps right to the saying part, and I’m sure you can guess how that goes.
Here’s a story to back me up: I’m in labor with our first (I’m talking days and days of BIG, BRUTAL contractions, no sleep, and SO MUCH freaking out). On the way to the hospital, my husband said, with completely sincerity, “My stomach hurts.” I was too weak FROM SIX PLUS DAYS OF INTENSE PAIN to stab him or even tell him I wanted to stab him, but everyone should know that I mentally stabbed him. And here’s the thing about Luke: he still stands by this statement, like, “What?! My stomach DID hurt.” You’ll never be able to convince him the statement was a bad idea, although I welcome your attempts, as noodle-armed as they may be.
So he’s a difficult one for sure. He’s also wise, brave, fun, and then randomly so thoughtful that your heart turns itself inside and you almost feel bad you mentally stabbed him. He’s blindingly confident and then humble at the same time, and I have no idea how he does that.
Anyway, when we first started dating in high school, he told me he wanted to be a pastor. I’m sure I nodded sweetly, but on the inside, I was like, “Yeah, that is not a good idea.” I assumed Christian leaders were supposed to be maddeningly nice, love to wear ties, drive five miles under the speed limit, and never ever EVER help your little brother blow up a teddy bear with fireworks, which Luke totally did.
Everything about Luke seemed a little too real for ministry. A little too passionate. A little too headstrong. A little too excited about dangerous things. A little too opinionated. This was probably not going to work. Then he set a huge field on fire when we were in college, shutting down an entire highway in the process, and I felt like that kind of confirmed it: Yes, this was not going to work. Thank goodness he was getting a business degree, right? But then he went to seminary. Oy.
As it turns out, I’m an idiot. His skill set is somehow uniquely appropriate (and then randomly inappropriate and back to appropriate again) for ministry, and he kicks booty, or whatever ministry-appropriate term this pastor’s wife is supposed to use. He’s brave enough to face conflict day-in and day-out, strong enough to make hard decisions, passionate and wise enough to communicate effectively, and then surprisingly gentle enough to love and listen to those that are struggling. He’s never worried about pleasing people, so in a lot of ways he’s freer than I am to focus on pleasing God instead. His thick skin means he can handle hard critiques with unbelievably little drama and instead enlist people who are strong in areas where he is weak. He's brave enough to apologize, brave enough to yield, brave enough to stand firm. He's armed with a warrior spirit and incredible character, so when the things which God has entrusted to him (my heart, our family, our church) are in danger, he fearlessly goes to battle for us.
So yeah, I love him. And maybe I’m a little sorry for the mental stabbing. Or maybe I’m not. It depends on the day.
He’s difficult, but the more I know him, the more his brand of difficult has become precious to me. And then a few years ago as I was studying the disciples, I realized that Luke’s brand of difficult is precious to someone else to: Jesus.
The three men that were in Jesus’ inner circle were not “drive five miles under the speed limit” kind of dudes. In scripture, they seem to be difficult, headstrong, passionate. Peter sliced off a guy’s ear (John 18:10). James and John, who earned the nickname “Sons of Thunder,” once saw a village reject Jesus and said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9:54). Intense, right? These men were daring and bold, and it seems safe to assume that they probably would not enjoy wearing a tie.
I am so grateful for a husband who is intense and stubborn, because it means that in God’s hands he can be intensely loving, intensely driven. He can intensely seek humility and wisdom. It means he can stubbornly follow Christ, stubbornly seek God’s approval rather than man’s, stubbornly cling to the right thing instead of the easy thing.
On one hand I can totally see him slicing off someone’s ear, but on the other hand, Jesus hung out with a guy like that, and in his hands, the raw material became the foundation for the whole church. An ear-slicer in God’s hands in a mighty tool, and I’m grateful to see what my sixteen-year-old self could not see: God uses those who are willing to be used by him. Our personalities, tendencies, and quirks are not intimidating to him but rather gifts he can leverage to bring him glory. Was Luke’s personality ever too intense for God? Was he intimidated by his “bull in a china shop” ways? Not even a bit. I’ve seen him use for incredible good those qualities I was certain would be liabilities in ministry. Oh, Lord (and Luke)—forgive my faithlessness!
Can we not trust him to use all things for good as he promised (Romans 8:28)? Can he use my hopeless extroverted-ness, my propensity to overshare, to laugh too loud, to talk too much? Can he use the introverts? The ones who overthink? The ones who talk without thinking? The ones who are too serious? The ones who are too silly? The ones who are too passionate? The ones who are always steady?
My answer is heck yes. Yeah, I’m a pastor’s wife, so I think I’m not allowed to say that as emphatically as I want to. But hear this: If you are willing, God can use you and every bit of your personality, no matter how weird it may be. Faithfully lay all your quirky things on the altar of his goodness, and watch him build an army of introverts and extroverts and bulls-in-a-china-shop and loud-laughers and over-thinkers, and I think we’ll find a hodgepodge of personality and strangeness that’s mightier than we ever imagined.