I’ve never understood why in movies the cheerleaders are typically portrayed as the popular kids. Personally, I’ve never had a desire to be a cheerleader. Sure their dance routines are cool and their outfits are cute, but I’d rather be playing the game. In high school my sport was basketball. I wasn’t the fastest player, or the greatest dribbler … or shooter … basically I wasn’t that great of a player EXCEPT when it came to defense. I played center because I’d guard that hoop with all 5’6” of me. I may, or may not have, tackled somebody during a basketball game once. In my defense (pun intended) she tackled me first! I was never the M.V.P. of basketball but I sure enjoyed it. The hype of the crowd and the thrill of actually making a basket gave me an endorphin induced high. Cheerleading just did not have the same appeal. If I was going to put the extra effort and time into going to practices, paying for a uniform, getting rides and paying for gas, come game day the crowd better be cheering for ME!
I went into marriage with the same motives. My husband Steve was my number one fan. With his words of encouragement he cheered me on in life, and any words that were not encouraging were met with defense. I thought it was great! Except when it was my turn to sit on the sidelines my distaste for cheering became apparent. Of course as a loving wife I wanted my husband to be the best that he could be, but my game plan was off. Instead of cheering him on I critiqued . . . everything. Those of you who have gathered a bit more wisdom throughout the years hopefully know how ineffective of a tactic this is. When he missed a basket, the laundry basket that is, he’d see my disappointment as I picked up after him. Sure he’d often score but even that was critiqued. After he worked all day to satisfy customers he’d come home to an unsatisfied wife. He worked long hours and often made it home just in time to help put the kids to bed, or sometimes he wouldn’t get home until after the kids were already in bed. Instead of appreciating him for his hard work and trying to make our hectic house a pleasant place to come home to, I resented him for not being available to us. I saw the disappointment on the kids’ faces when they knew they weren’t going to see Daddy. With an infant not sleeping through the night and two toddlers to chase and an overwhelmed ungrateful wife it became apparent to me that he would rather be at work. Nobody was cheering anybody on. My game plan of critiquing did not motivate him to improve his game; it only made him not want to play at all.
I wasn’t ready to surrender the game to the Enemy. With defeat and failure staring me in the face my pride was completely crushed. I blubbered, “God, I’m broken. Why don’t You break me the rest of the way, so You can put me back together however You want.” It was time to play dirty! It was time to knock the Enemy for a loop with a secret plan of attack. I humbly sulked over to the sidelines and picked up the stupid looking pom-poms. I lifted up my arms and awkwardly started waving. I started thanking my husband for the little things. Simple household tasks that I always assumed he knew he was supposed to do. I started sincerely thanking him: “Thank you for shoveling” . . . “Thank you for taking out the garbage.” Instead of critiquing on what he did wrong I’d look for something positive to say. For example, “If you’re going to take out the garbage can you at least empty out the kitchen trash first? Also, you forgot the recycle bin.” SHUT-UP All-Star Audrey! Instead Cheerleader Audrey would say, “Thank you for taking out the trash. I appreciate your help around the house. Also, you’re sexy.” (it never hurts to throw the sexy part in there!).
Another great example is our foyer. It is the first thing people see when we welcome them into our house. It has been under demolition for over 3-years. I ripped off the awful pink wallpaper when we first moved in and I figured Steve would patch the drywall holes. In the beginning repairs were put on hold because of finances, but then they were on hold because neither of us knew how to drywall. With All-Star Audrey out of the game and Cheerleader Audrey in place, in just one month my husband had renewed interest and confidence in taking care of our house. After a few weeks of cheering my husband knocked out the irrepairable walls and replaced them. He intended on drywalling the other not-as-damaged walls, but after spending a significant amount of money and time he hired a professional. All-Star Audrey would have seen all of the evenings he had put into the project and all of the money that had been spent on supplies as a waste. She would have made her disappointment in her husband inability to complete a task loud and clear. Thank goodness she wasn’t there, because Steve was already frustrated with the project and a disapproving wife would have only added to the stress. Instead, Cheerleader Audrey thanked him for wanting to make the house look nicer. She thanked him for taking the initiative on the project and thanked him for attempting to learn a new skill. She supported his decision in hiring whoever he thought was suitable for the job.
Over time I have learned to enjoy cheerleading. At times the pom-pom still feel awkward, but I now understand why the cheerleaders get the guy. Of course in the movies they’re typically portrayed as the pretty girls, and what guy doesn’t get a confident boost by having a pretty girl on his arm? That’s just it “confidence.” Men don’t need an All-Star wife. Of course we are supposed to do all that we do as if we’re doing it for God, but husbands don’t need an All-Star. They want a wife who will make THEM feel like the All-Star. They need a wife who will encourage them to be the best player that they can be, not by criticizing but by cheering them on and appreciating them for who they are. Now when one of us makes the wrong move we remind ourselves that we are on the same team. My defensive skills are in better use as I am aware of who the real Enemy is.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“[God] puts us with our opposite. Our mutual brokenness plays off each other so perfectly that it is frightening . . . marriage is a divine conspiracy. It is a conspiracy divinely arranged and with divine intent. God lures us into marriage through love and sex and loneliness, or simply the fact that someone finally paid attention- all those reasons that you got married in the first place. It doesn’t really matter, he’ll do whatever it takes. He lures us into marriage and then he uses it to transform us.” –Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge