Twenty years ago, a boy looked on me and I swooned.
Okay, it didn’t quite go like that. Instead, a boy looked on me, I looked skeptically back, we started discussing deep theological concepts and—bam—three years later we figured out we should be a couple. I started to swoon a year after we were married and I found out he thought I was pretty with bedhead and unbrushed teeth.
It was three whole years, one baby, and a move to the country, after we said, “I do,” that I found myself wondering if in fact, I really did. What had I gotten myself into? This wasn’t the marriage I signed up for. In fact, this marriage was quite different than anything I ever expected. The reality crasher?
Hunting season had found its way into our marriage.
For those of you who do not have hunter husbands, let me describe the excitement that enters our household when the first trees begin to have a golden ting and the to-do list for the week includes, “buy a license.” My husband’s affection for hunting season is deeply rooted in God’s gift of creation. Dave believes these are God’s woods, God’s gentle breeze, God’s crunchy leaves, and God’s creativity that designed the deer’s antlers and the doe’s call.
It was a shock to me that my gentle, creation loving husband, was also a man who put on camouflage, strapped a bow and arrow to his back, and sat in a tree for hours on end in order to “tag” a deer. This was a solid no-go for me. I like Bambi. I had no intention of designing meals around him in order to eat him. Plus, the social worker in me wanted to scream . . . weapons . . . in my home?!
Who was this guy I married?!
Sensing my pain and discomfort at hunting season's unwelcome entrance into our lives, my husband invited me into his realm. He promised to buy me pink camo (um, no thank you). He suggested we spend time sitting together in his little hut of a hunting blind, even buying wine for the occasion, but I was resolute, I did not want hunting season to be a part of my life or my marriage. Instead, for years, I muscled through October and November, willing winter to come faster so I could have my husband and my marriage back. I became more unfair and more unreasonable as seasons came and went, children were added to our quiver, and life added its own weights and frustrations.
My vantage point during hunting season was more than unfair. It was an idol.
I started telling myself that my husband who thought I was so gorgeous, insightful, and fun to be around wanted nothing more than to escape my presence for the woods. I wanted all my husband’s love and affection for myself. I didn’t want to share it with the deer or the woods. I felt left out and I felt cast aside. In my darkest moments, I wondered if he would trade me in for a set of antlers on a wall, if given the option.
In resentfulness and lack of support, I was giving my husband an ultimatum without saying a word. I was a mouse single-mindedly seeking the cheese and blindly missing the trap. It was all or nothing, man—me or those woods.
The base of my issues with hunting season wasn’t weapons or cooking or having to look deer in the eye as they hung on my wall. My issues were bigger and went much deeper, spiritually deep. I wanted Dave to fill me, without him needing any time to be filled. I wanted the parts of him that I liked, without the parts of him I wasn’t so crazy about. I wanted a perfect husband, with a perfect amount of time and energy, without the imperfect, messy reality that we were two different people, combining two different lives.
Only Jesus does perfect. My husband never will. Only Jesus fills me. That’s not my husband’s job.
It was a slow and painful lesson for each of us to learn balancing time and energy for hunting season to be able to happen with joy at our house. When autumn rolls around, I spend more time in my Bible, because in it I find truth—God calls me Beautiful and Jesus fills me up.
Dave is just a bonus. He calls me beautiful too, sometimes intentionally more often during hunting season, because he knows I need reminders when I’m feeling left out and cast aside, but it’s no longer his place anymore. I took him off of the pedestal and let him go out into the woods.
I have found the One Whom My Soul Loves. His name is Jesus, not Dave.
My heart loves Dave, but my heart, soul, mind, and strength love Jesus.
Shockingly, I finally figured it out, all because I married hunting season too.