I read once that a spouse should only speak love over their partner, not ever belittling them or mocking them, or even complaining about them in public, and should instead, sing their praises. Now, I can’t say that I’ve never complained about my husband to my girlfriends, muttered under my breath in frustration, or teased him when we are out in public, but I do agree that I need to shout out his praises more often, and sing them loudly. This is the man I have committed my life to, one whose life is deeply intertwined with mine, so why wouldn’t I want the world to know how wonderful he is? Why wouldn’t I want to praise him publicly for the fantastic father, husband, man that he is? So as he is about to celebrate another birthday, I give this to him as a gift, celebrating his life, his beautiful soul, celebrating the man that he is.
From the start of our life together, long before we were married, he has always made me feel beautiful. He still makes me feel that way, day after day, during weight gains and weight losses, pregnancies and postpartum, in sickness and in health. He tells me I’m beautiful on the days when I feel my ugliest. For a person whose self-esteem has hovered next to nothing for most of her life, being told that I was beautiful was something new, something that my heart craved. I wanted to feel that way, and if he could see me that way, then perhaps I would someday be able to feel it for myself. This has been such a gentle, lovely gift that he has given me for so many years now, and I don’t know if I have ever let him know how it delights my soul.
He encourages me through my insecurities, and cheers when I triumph. He loves me in spite of my faults and flaws. He has been my cheerleader, my love, my rock. Unhappy and unfulfilled in a job, he was the one who took the incentive and called a school, arranging a meeting with an advisor. He was the one who encouraged me to go back to school, even though we had a new baby at home. He helped me study, took care of the baby so I could read, volunteered to be the guinea pig as I learned my massage therapy skills. He allowed me time to explore my possibilities. He encouraged me in starting my own business, first in our home, then expanding to another spot. In every step forward I made, he was there, cheering me on, supporting my every move. Even the ones that made our family struggle, even the ones that challenged us, through every step, he was always the encourager.
We have grown a beautiful family together, creating this lovely unit of chaos and noise, giggles and growing pains. He was with me for the birth of each child, holding my hand, crying with me as each little life came into this world. As we develop as parents, we do so as a team…and sometimes we are on the losing side. When you are outnumbered by the littles in your home, the best you can do is zone defense, the best you can hope for is a wee bit of control.
It is through this husband of mine that my relationship with God has grown, has been shaped, has been deepened. In the way that he lives out his faith, the way he has followed his calling, it has shown me the depth of his faith and commitment. Even before our journey to seminary, we had long discussions on what it means to be a Christian, to live out a living, vibrant faith. We challenged one another since we come from different religious backgrounds, and used that to grow and deepen our love and faith in our Savior. This, too, is one of those gifts that he has given me, one he probably doesn’t even realize. I am thankful that I have a partner in this life who does want to share and grow his faith, someone who questions and learns, and embraces the challenges that comes with living out a life in Christ.
Our marriage has been far from perfect, as we are two imperfect souls, trying to do our best. And our best fails miserably sometimes. But through it all, I have never doubted his love. We have been through some very dark, very tough times, but we have faced our troubles, our pain, side by side, always there for one another. He has been a rock, strong when I have been weak. I only pray that I have been that for him as he has been through his own struggles, his own dark times. As we journey together through this adventure of a life intertwined there is a constant ebb and flow of hardship and healing, wellness and frustration. Life has thrown us a share of curve-balls, and with each one we have, together, gotten past, waded through, hurdled over each and every one. This, this, is the beauty of a life together, a life combined. Two very different souls wading hand in hand through the muck and the mire of the hard, dirty places of life, celebrating together the beauty and the joy that only such a journey can bring.
Darling husband, thank you for the journey, the joy. You are a blessing.