It’s been a lazy Saturday morning with the love of my life. These are the best days. So far, that is. I’m convinced there are many best days in front of us. It’s not as if we are bored, we both have things to do today.
In another hour or so, my kitchen will be filled with chattering college girls. We will drink coffee and prepare a meal for the fifty plus students coming for lunch tomorrow. In preparation for this rather celebratory Super Bowl weekend, we will bake football shaped Chocolate Whoopie Pies.
He will leave in a few minutes to eat breakfast with a crew of crazies who meet at Waffle House on Saturday mornings. This group laughs too much, pokes lots of fun and generally gives him grace to be himself.
Yet for a wonderful while this morning, we lazily share coffee with our oversized Rottweilers at our feet. We catch each other up on our favorite slices of social media and what God has brought to mind throughout the week. We offer random observations of life and love. We remember last evening’s date night and dream of the future.
Mostly we laugh and smile.
It is good to be his wife.
As rewarding as it is, it’s a scary business being married to this man. I have to be careful what I say. It’s kind of like being married to Taylor Swift. You never know what may end up online. Seriously, I finish many statements with, “you can’t preach about that.” When you are married to an artistic soul who writes poetry and songs and also has an outlet to preach, absolutely everything has the potential for public consumption. If he laughs too hard at something I say and begins to take notes on his IPhone, I know I am in trouble. I learned twenty years ago to especially guard my tongue on Sundays before the sermon. Anything we discuss has the potential of flying into his head like a mosquito and it finding its way into a well-placed illustration. If I don’t want to hear it, I better not say it!
This week has been a particularly interesting one. My preacher husband tackled a sensitive question in his sermon this week. We are in a series addressing questions raised by the congregation. This one was about sex: Not sexuality in a political sense but the limits of marital sex. My husband is undaunted by such things. Of course we had a huge crowd that morning and I felt the people vacillating in a strange tension between wanting to walk out or applaud. In the process he managed to coin a phrase that even garnered a T-shirt by Tuesday afternoon.
I found myself in the middle. I reminded him he could perhaps learn to preach in the third person. Everything does not require a personal illustration. I spent a fair bit of time ducking my head and wondering what was next. But at the end of the day, I know I can trust him. He always casts me in the brightest of lights, lights I don’t even deserve. He honors me publicly. And although my reserved self would often pull back, those are the moments that end up producing the greatest life change for others. It is dangerous being married to such a man, but so worth it. I am humbled by our deep affection for each other and the trust we have built.
How did we even get here?
Patience is at least part of the picture.
Please understand that my husband has the patience of a bean. Maybe a mustard seed. He can’t keep a secret to save his life. He often announces my gift before I can get it unwrapped. Don’t get me wrong, he tries to build suspense with a beautifully wrapped present, but then enthusiasm takes over. I kind of love that about him.
When we first mutually noticed each other, I was a mere fourteen years old. I can barely type that age. Holy Smokes! He was a confident and worldly-wise nineteen-year-old. People thought we were crazy. They figured I was enamored by his age, but I saw the depth of his soul and what God was doing in him. I sensed his transformation in Jesus was no flash in the pan. There was an irresistible sincerity to this man.
He exercised more patience in the next four years than he has since. He literally waited on me to grow up. And I am so glad he did. Thirty-one years in, I know that I love him more now than I did the day I married him. Our marriage isn’t the same now as it was then. It is better.
Patience for me looks different but is equally important. I exercise patience as he lives our lives out loud, Taylor Swift style. While I am fretting that we will be misunderstood or the mission of our ministry will suffer from intolerant believers who miss our heart, God continually proves me wrong. I’ve learned that busily protecting myself from pain has only served to limit the impact of my ministry.
At fifty, I care less. And I care more.
I care less about my public persona and I care more about those we are introducing to the gospel. I care more about showing people what a marriage can truly be in all its glory. What we have isn’t perfect, but it is doggone good and I would stack it up against anybody.
As we prepare to co-teach a six-week-series on marriage at our church, I’m surprised at how difficult it can be to put marriage in words. It wasn’t always easy. But it also hasn’t been that difficult. We have grown into what we have now.
Patience is important. We wait on each other. We give the other room to be ourselves. We don’t demand our version of life from the other. We don’t force our timetable on the other. Waiting indicates the value of what we are waiting for. People will conjure up patience for anything they want badly enough. Have you heard of Black Friday? Why then wouldn’t we exercise patience with each other? Waiting without pressure means that I value being with someone more than being ahead. At the end of the day, I want to walk beside my husband, not charging several feet ahead or lagging several feet behind.
Being patient is much more than being tolerant. It is much more than enduring with clinched lips. It means looking for the good in the other. It means anticipating with joy, not persevering with dread. It means looking through their eyes.
I’m sure I drive my husband crazy sometimes. Often times, he is so patient I can’t tell I’m doing it. I think I nearly drive God crazy sometimes too. He is patience personified.
Ultimately, marriage is a reflection of our relationship with God.
And I love a lazy Saturday in His presence, reflecting on the past week and what I’ve noticed. Mostly I smile.