“Dean is not God.” It seems obvious when I say it out loud, but in 2011 I didn’t even know that was what I was thinking. Consciously I would never say, “Dean is God.” But subconsciously I was expecting him to be. I was living with expectations of my husband to be my everything.
I had heard a call from God (the real God) in 2009 or 2010. All He said was, “Africa.” I knew it was from God. There was no question in my mind, so I started searching for trips to Africa. The more I prayed the more I felt His call. This took years of prayer and trust. Sometimes I didn’t hear anything, sometimes I doubted, but mostly I felt a tether attached to my heart pulling me to Africa. And soon the tether was pulling me to the children of Africa. All I knew was “Africa” and “children”.
And this is where Dean comes in. I told my husband when I heard from God for the very first time. I was so excited, and my expectation was that Dean would instantly believe what God had told me and then help me discern my call. Well, he did help me discern my call, but he did not believe. He believed I thought I heard from God. But, he had a lot of questions. A lot of good questions that I didn’t have answers to. And because I didn’t have the answers I thought it meant that Dean would not support me. And if Dean didn’t support me in a call from God then maybe God wasn’t calling me after all, because God wouldn’t tell one spouse and not the other, right?
But the more I prayed, the more convinced I was that I was to go to Africa. I just didn’t understand why Dean was not jumping up and down with excitement for me and this call. And his lack of excitement worried me. You see, Dean was the one who personally introduced me to Jesus. I knew of Jesus my entire life, but I had never sat with Him before. I had never just hung out with Him. Dean was the one who showed me that. Dean had always lead me spiritually, so now that I was hearing something and he wasn’t, I doubted myself.
I wonder if Dean felt the pressure I had put on him. I relied on his spiritual intimacy with Christ to determine whether or not God was actually calling me to something. Does that even make sense when I write it? Probably not. It’s all kind of a mess of stuff in my brain.
When Dean and I were in high school, he was the one I went to with questions about my faith. He was the one who knew the bible and knew God’s nature, and he answered my questions. And somewhere in the years following I had removed God from His throne and placed Dean there. “What Dean says goes, because he knows God.” My poor husband, he was just a man, and I expected things only God could deliver: perfection, salvation, constant affection, omniscience, etc. Every time he was not able to perform to the godlike standards I had placed on him, I became upset.
It wasn’t until the end of 2011 when one of our pastors shared that he was going to Kenya in August 2012 and he was looking for others who have been called to join him. Five minutes later I was on the list to go to Kenya. I knew. I just knew this was what God had been calling me to. Our church had never had a trip to Africa before, and God wanted me to be a part of the team that started this ministry. What and honor!
But why hadn’t Dean known that? Why did he doubt my call when it really was from God? Because…TWIST…. he’s human. Dean is a human. But Dean and I were married so why wouldn’t God tell Dean about a call God gave me?
God spoke to me, “I don’t discuss your matters with others. That’s between me and you. Sometimes I will place a name on someone’s heart, but I don’t discuss their personal matters with others. I want you to look to ME for your next play. Your husband is your teammate, not your coach. Sometimes you are both on the field and you are given the same play, and you are in sync and you play together. Other times I need one of you to sit out for a play or two and I only call one of you onto the field. It’s not because one is better than the other. It’s because different plays call for different players. I want you to trust ME and I want you to know that I talk directly to you. And Elizabeth, please stop expecting the world of Dean, I am the only one who can give you that.”