Hope for the Hero in Your Spouse

“Darth Vader is stupid!” one second-grade boy informed another.

“No, he’s not,” came his classmate’s reply. “He’s awesome!”

As the two boys debated, my seven-year-old daughter sat nearby and listened quietly. Inwardly, she cheered on Classmate #2. Yep, the one who lauded Darth Vader as awe inspiring.

You see, when it comes to Star Wars characters, her favorite isn’t Luke or Leia or even Rey. She isn’t drawn to R2D2, BB8, or an ewok. Nope, she loves Darth Vader. And, I’m not talking Anakin Skywalker before he turns to the Dark Side. I mean Darth Vader, Episode VI. Black mask, black cape, creepy breathing, and all.

Why?

It’s quite simple, really. She knows the end of his story. She’s seen the scene where he sacrifices himself to save his son. As a result, she doesn’t view him as a villain, but a hero. Yes, you read that right, a hero.

When she recently asserted that he was a hero to her older sister, the senior of the two argued in favor of Vader’s villain status. After all, look at all the evil he had done. Surely, that made him bad, right? Maybe. I couldn’t help but interject my thoughts into the conversation, though; thoughts in favor of the younger’s opinion.

“It depends on what part of his story you focus on,” I said. “Look at Paul in the Bible. If you open up Acts to when his name was still Saul, you’d label him a villain too. But if you turn a few chapters to the right, you’d be amazed by his transformation from villain to hero.”

Yet what do Darth Vader and Saul-turned-Paul have to do with your marriage and your spouse?

I don’t know about you, but there are moments – days even – when I act more like a villain than a hero. Times when I choose dark over light.

Just think if my husband Ted determined whether I was the protagonist or antagonist based on only bits and pieces of my narrative arc. And what if those bits and pieces were my not-so-shining moments? Surely, he’d easily cast me a villain.

But what if Ted reminded himself on my bad days that my story isn’t finished yet? That God isn’t done with me yet? After all, if we now consider Paul – who called himself in 1 Timothy 1:15-16 “the greatest of all sinners” – a hero, then surely I have some hero in me too.

Perhaps you aren’t the one who struggles with hero status in your marriage. Instead, it could be that your spouse has consistently been more of a villain lately. Maybe his or her hero qualities have been MIA for a while and you’re ready to give up.

Don’t.

(And note, I’m not talking about abusive behavior. That is a different issue for which you should seek outside help.)

Instead of giving up, choose to see the hero in your spouse, even when that hero isn’t easy to see. Because, let’s face it, Vader’s hero status seems non-existent in Episode IV and V. And Paul? Well, in Acts 8 he’s terrorizing the early Church. In the end, though, they both became heroes.

So let’s not give up on each other. Our stories aren’t done yet. And if Paul and Darth Vader can prove to be heroes, if their narrative arcs could take them to Marvel-ous places, I’m confident the same could be said for you … and your spouse.

How to Serve a Communication Sandwich to Your Spouse

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Ashleigh Slater is the author of the books, Braving Sorrow Together: The Transformative Power of Faith and Community When Life is Hard and Team Us: The Unifying Power of Grace, Commitment, and Cooperation in Marriage. She loves to combine the power of a good story with practical application to encourage and inspire readers.

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