Updated: Oct 26, 2019
This is a story about the two most important men in my life -- Jeff and Jesus -- and how they are pretty much on the same page when it comes to me.
There's been a few things on the internet about the roles of Christian women this week. Which is what is making me think about this.
When I was 21 and still a senior in college, we got engaged. In the course of our premarital conversations, Jeff told me he would like for me to stay home with our kids when they were little. I thought about this for a few days, and eventually said something like this:
"I'm 21 years old. I cannot, at this moment, commit to never having a profession if we have kids. I haven't even gotten to use my degree yet."
Jeff's response was something like, "Okay. We'll figure it out as we go."
That's it. Really.
And for the last 20 years, that's just about how Jeff and I have settled matters of my career and role in our family. I say what I want to do, and what I think God is calling me to do, and Jeff says, "Okay." And he absolutely means it.
Because my degree was English Literature, there was a good chance I was never going to get to use it. But I landed a part time writing job, and Jeff supported me taking this small thing I could get for now, and we trusted that God had something else coming for us. He did. While we were on our honeymoon, the magazine's Executive Editor quit, and they gave me -- for some crazy reason -- a full-time editor position.
Seven years later, we had a two year old kid, and I was still working. And then I heard God tell me that I had to quit my job and stay home full-time. He also said, "I've got you covered." I told Jeff that I heard God's voice tell me to give notice, and Jeff said, "Okay." I gave notice. I didn't work for years, and we came out of a recession still owning our small house and without debt. God had us covered indeed.
And then when I felt God leading me to start teaching young moms groups, Jeff again said, "Okay, go for it." We both felt that, though I could certainly earn more if I ran hard at pursuing secular journalism again (which I still do now and then for fun and a check), that this was where Jesus was calling me to spend my energy.
On it went. When God prompted me to write a book, and then another book Jeff said "Go for it." He okayed giving up the living room when I had test groups come over and give me book feedback. He okayed me signing with an agent based on my instincts, teaching almost every week, and being gone on the weekends when I started booking women's retreats.
He doesn't call it "babysitting" when I'm gone; he calls it being a father. When someone in his family said something to us about me being "gone so much" if this thing "really takes off" Jeff said, "If this thing takes off for Amanda, we are going to ride it as far as it will take her." He spends occasional Saturdays and date nights working my book table. He joins the audience when I teach co-ed groups in Recovery. He just totally and completely has my back.
We have never had a conversation about whether or not I should be teaching because I'm a woman. We just know Jesus said to me, "Go where I send thee." And he's sent me to audiences of both men and women, both of whom have lovingly taken the time to tell me that what I said blessed them.
This week I started reading an Insta-friend's book on women loving Jesus with all their heart, mind, soul and strength -- whatever that looks like for them. Author Kat Armstrong and I met through an online introduction by Vivian Mabuni, a wonderful Bible teacher and writer. Our three books were released on the same day this past July, and we celebrated online together, tagging each others books on the New Releases table at Barnes and Noble. Armstrong and Anderson are right next to each other on the shelf, so Kat's and my books are buddies. But the first copy Kat sent me got lost in the mail. I believe it was divine providence, because I got No More Holding Back, about women serving and loving God no matter what, the same week that some of Beth Moore's brothers in Christ made fun of her publicly, telling her to "go home" and saying she was part of a power grab women were making in church.
Kat's book soothed my soul, from the first page when she dedicated the book to her pastor husband Aaron, "for telling [her] to go for it...about everything." My husband got the very last page in my book, for being my "Wonderwall." Here's what Kat says about finding a husband, and the man in her life:
Free dating advice: If the prospect wants to talk about your submissiveness to his leadership, get the heck out of there, because I'm afraid for you...Nowhere in the Scriptures do we see a prescription for the kind of male leadership that controls, manages, or forces someone to submit. Submission, by definition, is not something asked of us; we offer it willingly to the Lord.
Never in my sixteen years of marriage has Aaron, my husband, ever asked, suggested or ordered me to submit...I gladly lean on my husband as my closest confidant. When He speaks into my life, I listen. And we haven't crossed a decision yet where we were not willing to wait to be on the same page and move forward in unison.
What Kat and I have experienced is something for which we are -- and should be -- profoundly grateful. We have husbands who submit to Jesus, and also trust our ability to hear Jesus clearly. Don't get me wrong -- I have been wrong sometimes and made some major relational mistakes because of my own brokenness; Jeff has called me out on them. But when it comes to God's calling on my life, we've never had conflict. Because both men in my life, Jesus and Jeff, see me as a valuable minister and teacher, and also a wife, a mother, a woman worthy of love. With tears streaming down my face as I write this, I'm profoundly grateful for them both today.