The Graduate

It wasn’t a good week. It hasn’t been the week we were hoping for. It wasn’t a week of fun and relaxation, peace and joy.

No, it has been a week from hell.

It started out well, with high expectations. My darling husband finished all of his work for his final set of seminary classes last week. All he needed to do this week was show up at his scheduled final times, get his attendance stamp, and he was done. We were looking forward to having time to relax and enjoy these last few days before graduation.

But, no, that is not how life would have it. Instead of celebrating, we were cleaning up after children. Instead of toasting to our good life, we were trying to get our kids to eat a piece of toast.  Instead of a victory dance, we were dealing with vomit…and lots of it.

A week of illness, for 4 out of the 5 of us.

Not the week we had planned for, at all.

But dear husband? He was a trooper. The only one not to get ill, he got up at 3 a.m. on Wednesday to clean up after child #2, while I was holding the hair back on child #1.  (And, let me just say, regurgitated nacho Doritos are not a pleasant experience…) He then spend the rest of the night awake with me, as child #3 decided to join in the party, too.

He spent the first half of his week caring for the children while I was ill, and they were well, trying to keep them from getting infected. But to no avail. He spent the second half of the week helping me with the three children, because I couldn’t keep up with the madness and the messes on my own.

I didn’t want him to be helping, didn’t want him to chance getting sick himself.

But, there he was, in the thick of the mess.

Just as he always has been.

Just like he always is.

He is such a good father, such a strong and loving guide in our children’s lives.  He is a wonderful husband,  my beloved companion, in the good times and the not-so-fabulous, we-are-covered-in-other-people’s-bodily-fluids times, and the downright horrible times. Far more than just my significant other, he is the other half to my heart, my life.

I am so proud of him. Not just of his accomplishments, but of who has been, who he is, who he has become.

I fall in love more with him each day, even in the midst of the madness that life can entail.

And here we are, at one more important milestone in our lives together.

Graduation day. A culmination of 4 years of hard work, hundreds of thousands of pages read, hundreds of papers written, dozens of presentations given, and more group projects created than any sane person would enjoy.

Dear husband is brilliant, though you wouldn’t hear him say so. He has breezed through classes that others struggled and stressed over. He has told me several times that he didn’t understand what he was missing,  why it was easy for him.  (Except for Greek and Hebrew.  “Easy” and those two words never went hand-in-hand.)  There were times when he was overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of work he needed to accomplish. There were times when he did struggle, more with the emotional weight of the material than the academic rigors of it. But he was able to muddle through it all, more successfully at times than others.  He is gifted academically, and I applaud that in him. It is a gift he was given, and he gives the Lord all credit.

Dear husband has grown, emotionally and spiritually. These years of seminary have challenged assumptions, confused issues, and left him with more questions than answers. And yet, his faith is deeper, strengthened in the fires of doubt and despair.  Both he and I have learned to fully trust on the Lord in all things.  As life has handed us challenges, we have held one another’s hands and walked in faith, praying that God would provide. As dear husband worked on his own broken heart and wounded emotions, he found a beautiful strength in the healing hand of God. He has greater self-awareness and a deeper empathy for the other broken men and women of this world.

Dear husband is humble of heart, and will probably hate that I am bragging him up in this post.  It is his beautiful heart that endears him to me, and it is his humility that will make him a beautiful servant leader.  Many times he has told me that he feels unqualified for the role of pastor. But I know that God has called him, God has equipped him, and God has gifted him perfectly for this path.

Dear husband has a love for the Lord, and every day, lives out his faith. He doesn’t see it, he doesn’t realize this is what he is doing, but it is apparent to those around him. Our children see it.  Our son told me the other day that it was cool Dad was going to be a pastor, because he was “one of God’s men.”  All of our children have a deep and growing faith, and I don’t think I can take any credit for it. Dear husband, you are such a good example to them, and to me.  You have shown them what it means to step out in faith, in uncertain circumstances and with an uncertain future. You have shown us all how to be faithful in prayer, always going to God first.  You have exemplified a man who loves God, even in your own broken and messy way.  And it is beautiful.

Dear husband, I love you.  You have made it, succeeded in this wonderful accomplishment, and you have done it with grace and joy, even if you weren’t always feeling that way! Words cannot begin to express the pride I feel, the honor it is to be by your side as you collect this degree.  I am so incredibly blessed to have been on this journey with you, as we have both gotten an education here, just in different ways.

JJ, I love you, now and always.