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On the Side - April 2013

Hole-y Promptings
by Carol Shrader

My favorite jeans have a hole in the knee. Well, by favorite, I should quantify that I have only owned them about a month. A slightly ungraceful tumble the first time I wore them resulted in said hole. But they are still so comfortable that I wear them. Hole or no, they quickly became my favorite pair.

And looking at the hole makes me smile -- ok, if I am completely honest, it makes me frown because I can't find another pair like them and, let's face it, cute and comfortable jeans are a hard thing to come by -- but the hole kind of makes me smile because I am reminded of residency. The hole floods me with memories of a time when wearing holes in the knees of my jeans was a common occurrence.

Certainly the economic factor played a role there but not entirely. Oh sure, I couldn't afford a closet full of jeans so the one or two pair I did own saw a LOT of wear. But mainly, I wore through those knees crawling around playing with my children. Chasing toddlers at their level, acting out dramas with our Little People sets and reading books. I spent more time on my knees with three preschoolers than I spent anywhere else.

As the hole on my knee prompts me, I remember those days of being intentional with my preschoolers, and because it was residency, being intentional with my husband. The days of residency afforded us very little quantity of time together, but we did have quality time and we made the most of it.

Reflecting back on our years of training, as well as the years since, I am struck by the thought that intentionality might just be the strength of the medical marriage.

Would you agree that some days it is hard not to resent some of the other marital strengths - you know, the friend who has teamwork as the strength of her marriage, she and her husband work together on everything from dishes to diapers? Or what about the one whose husband works from home and they can discuss every decision in detail?

Medical marriages are unique in their make-up, and as such, must develop strengths of their own. Just as residency taught my husband to be a surgeon, residency taught us that time together is a premium that should not be wasted or taken for granted. Residency taught us to be intentional together.

The dictionary offers synonyms for intentional as purposeful, deliberate, conscious. We must make the time with our husbands purposeful. I looked up synonyms for purposeful as well ... want to know what it said? A do-or-die attitude. Do. Or. Die. Wow. I think I like it.

Most of us will not have husbands who work from home. Or husbands whose job will allow them to attend every parent meeting, open house and birthday party we attend. They may be too exhausted after a day in the operating room to help with the dishes every night or to bathe the baby.

The raw truth is that in my 21 years as a doctor's wife, I have had seasons where I longed for all of that. Seasons where I resented the fact that Wade was not with me at every open house. Or more pointedly, days where I felt envious of my friend whose husband was at every event. Oh, did you hear me? I was covetous of my friend's marriage.

"And he said, 'What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness'" (Mark 7:20-22, ESV). (Emphasis mine.)

"For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" (Ephesians 5:5, ESV). (Emphasis mine, again.)

Dear ones, Jesus lists jealousy right there with murder and sexual immorality. We do not want that. Rather, we must develop a do-or-die mentality of guarding our hearts. We must be purposeful about protecting our marriages. And yes, it would not hurt us to wear holes in the knees of our jeans, being intentional about spending quality time with our man.


Carol Shrader is wife to her wonderful Wade and mom to soon-to-be 16-year-old triplets, Benjamin, Mason and Claire, as well as 7-year-old Cate. They live in Phoenix, Arizona where she is grateful to only have another month or so of needing her hole-y jeans.