We recently arrived home from a fun-filled, amazing time in Chicago. Our oldest qualified for a National History Bee hosted in this historic city. So Drew, along with our 2nd oldest Knox, who was eager to try “world’s best pizza”, joined us for this mini-vacation.
In typical Andy and Kristen style we had planned very little of our trip. We did have a hotel and plane tickets, but intended to play the rest of it by ear. We gathered a few suggestions from friends, glanced on-line to see what may be interesting, and discussed it on the plane ride. Seriously!!
Thankfully, other quiz club teammates and their families arrived in Chicago slightly before us and began sharing pictures through texts. Unbeknownst to them, they were helping to plan our trip!
The one activity we had decided on ahead of time was to attend a White Sox baseball game. It turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip! Relaxing in the stands, making runs for stadium food…sausage dogs, Chicago popcorn, nachos, pretzels…what’s not to like?
This trip holds precious memories for me of all that we got to experience during this season of life. A point in which our boys can’t get enough of time with us. Eager to share plane seats and still grabbing for our hand when we’re casually walking along. A time of grateful hearts where Andy and I delighted over the “thank you’s” voiced by each of them at different moments throughout our trip.
But, for me, the most precious memory will be what the Lord taught me during these 5 days together. It’s something I have fought against for years. But now having experienced it, I regret that I hadn’t embraced it years ago.
So here it is. The HUGE lesson.
I finally allowed Andy to lead.
Maybe allowing your husband to lead comes naturally for you, but for me…it’s beyond difficult! And I’ll give you two reasons why.
#1- I like to be in control.
#2 -I think I’m always right.
Our trip to Chicago had the potential to magnify these two traits as the two of us would constantly be making decisions about what to do and navigating our way through unfamiliar territory.
So, when we arrived and gathered our luggage I discovered that Andy planned to Uber to our downtown Chicago hotel. I wanted to find out if there was a FREE shuttle, but after voicing my opinion over and over…and over again, the Uber was requested and within five minutes had pulled up to the curb. As the driver loaded our many bags, I realized how wonderful it was to have plenty of space to transport our luggage and comfortably fit the 4 of us. This 45 minute ride into the city was not only enjoyable and relaxing, but it also provided the opportunity for us to easily take in our first sights of Chicago. “I need to listen to Andy more often,” I thought.
In this moment something in my spirit was churning and I felt a sense to….HUSH!
From that point on in our trip I began allowing Andy to have the louder voice. Although I may have suggested an alternative plan, I would quickly and supportively go along with his thought if he reinstated his original idea.
What I found is that if I made a suggestion without forcing it, there were several times Andy chose to oblige. For instance, heading to the baseball game the first night there were several cabs in front of our hotel. Instead of waiting for an Uber I suggested we just hop into an available cab so that we could be on our way. That ride completely reinforced my earlier thoughts of listening to Andy. The cab was smelly and dirty and I couldn’t wait to take a breath of fresh air upon our arrival to the stadium.
Navigating our way to the Field Museum the following morning proved to be a bit of a challenge. The navigation system on Andy’s phone was telling us to continue straight… on roads that didn’t exist! I was ready and raring to go! I had my opinions lined up and it took all of my self-control to allow Andy to lead. Instead of questioning his judgement I chose to support him saying,
“Those directions ARE confusing.”
“Now we have plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful walk through Millennium Park.”
“What a pretty day to get to spend some time outside!”
And you know what happened? I felt the weight of the world lift off of my shoulders. In that moment the joy of allowing Andy to lead released me of the feeling that everything was up to me. I didn’t have to figure out how to get there. I could let go and enjoy the journey, regardless of where we ended up.
(By the way, he was right and led us straight there.)
The rest of the trip continued on in a similar manner, Andy leading….and me following.
It was a peaceful, relaxing, joy-filled time. I grieved as I considered how many times I have undermined Andy’s leadership ability, failing to see the wisdom in following him. I now know that he needs to understand that right or wrong, I will stand by his side and fully support him. We are a team.
When we arrived back in Tallahassee and “real life” took hold, I began to realize the many ways I have tried to take control and have my own way. Ways that have become second nature to me, that I wasn’t even recognizing as undermining Andy’s leadership. After this trip my eyes have been opened and I keep replaying the peace and relief I felt by allowing him to take charge. To me this trip was truly life-changing.
Perfection is unattainable, and I know there will be moments I still stumble in this area, but my prayer is that I continue to look to the Lord for direction and to make spending time with Him a priority. The Lord is the only one who can truly change my heart.
I know every day won’t be perfect. But, let it be said at the end of my life that I loved my husband and let him lead.
*Oh, and in case you’re wondering. This kid did get to experience “world’s best pizza” and I have to admit it was everything we hoped it would be.