A new show came on HGTV about two years ago. From the get-go, I could tell that there was something different about the stars of this reality show. So I did the only reasonable thing. I Googled them.
The first search result that popped up was a YouTube video of the wife's testimony. Sure enough, the video confirmed my suspicions. They were believers, and it was obvious in everything they did. It was most obvious in the way that they related to each other, especially the way that the wife treated her husband.
Joanna Gaines rarely raised her voice at all toward her husband. Even when her husband brought home two new puppies without asking or even saying a word (at least not that we see), she didn't speak negatively about her husband to her kids. Instead, she highlighted her husband's kindness as a father. When her husband fell into the lake after repeated warnings from his wife, resulting in a ruined phone and precipitating the need to strip down to his undies on their television show, she just stared at him silently. He knew she was angry, but she never yelled. I've never seen her treat her husband like a child, not once. Even when he behaves with kid-like enthusiasm, she just enjoys his quirkiness and gives him a kiss.
Now, I'm not saying that their marriage is without difficulties or that she has never blown-up at him, but I am saying this: their relationship is just different.
Where most shows find their drama in screaming matches and eye-rolls, Fixer Upper doesn't even go there. Both Chip and Joanna make a point of speaking to and about each other with love and respect, and apparently people really like that.
When the show was accused of trying to mis-lead its viewers by adding home-shopping scenes to the beginning, HGTV replied with this statement (emphasis added): "'Fixer Upper' fans enjoy the series because it focuses on the playful banter between Chip and Jo, their home renovation expertise, innovative design tips and families who get the help they need to transform a fixer upper into the home of their dreams."
In other words, people like the show because this couple actually likes each other, and they're good at what they do.
Edwin bought me The Magnolia Story, Chip and Joanna's book, for Christmas. The word "submission" was never used, but the concept was on every page. The book begins with a story about how a film crew went to Waco to get some footage of the Gaines family in hopes of creating a show. Initially, Chip and Joanna wilted under the camera's eye, but before the crew left, a broken-down, mold-infested house boat arrived. Chip had purchased the boat without nary a word to his wife. Joanna was upset, but she didn't throw a fit over Chip making a major decision without her input (and with her money). Because of the way she handled her frustration and looked for a way to change a shipwreck into a dream boat (pun totally intended), the camera crew was able to get the footage they needed of a quirky, industrious, and wildly talented couple, which led to Fixer Upper.
They never did get the boat sea-worthy, but since the show began, it has become an absolute sensation. Before the show, Chip and Joanna struggled to keep all of their investments afloat. Now they manage an empire. Their companies have all taken off and expanded. The city of Waco has grown and developed because Fixer Upper features local artisans and businesses on every episode, Their show attracts visitors from all over the country to their store and bed and breakfast. (Which is booked solid for six months and doesn't accept reservations further out than that, in case you're wondering.) A city that was once known for a mass suicide is now known as the home of Magnolia everything.
Oh, yeah, and Baylor.
But mostly Magnolia.
Now, to be fair, they were in the middle of building an entire neighborhood before the show. That's the biggest investment that they struggled to keep above water. Most of us will never handle enough capital to build a neighborhood, so that's probably not a struggle with which we can empathize. But their lives now are completely different, and their city is completely different.
Because of the way they treat each other.
People are tired of arguing and antagonistic marriages. We're tired of wimpy men and nagging women. We're tired of comedy that depends on cutting other people apart.
There's nothing stranger or more glorious than a marriage in which two people are fighting on behalf of each other instead of against each other.
But here's what I know: most women who love their husbands and show them respect will never see the kind of fruit that Joanna and Chip have received.
Even as I stand in awe of the blessing that Joanna's basic Christian love has brought on her home, I recognize that many women are struggling to love men who may never reciprocate their kindness. Most women who love and respect their husbands will never get to pursue every dream with their husbands' blessings. Most women who submit to their husbands will never receive the full reward for their faithfulness in this life.
But the blessings that the Gaines family have received is a glimpse into the blessing that God is storing up for his daughters who will trust Him enough to love and respect their husbands.
Do you really think that the blessings that Chip and Joanna are receiving right now can even begin to compare to the blessings that God is preparing for the wife who loves and submits to a hard, uncaring husband? Do you really think that a multi-million dollar empire is even worth comparing to the blessings that God is designing for His daughters who are faithful, yet never receive the rewards that they earn during this lifetime?
Look at the joy of fulfilled dreams, financial security, a city redeemed, and a family the way that it's supposed to be as portrayed through the Gaines family. Now multiply it times a million. That's what God is working on for us, dear friends.
We need only be faithful to His calling.
I didn't receive anything for this post, not even a free book, but Joanna should feel free to send me a gift card to her shop, if she so desires.