This month, Jeff and I celebrated our five year anniversary. I was thinking I ought to write something reflective, like “Lessons 5 Years Into Marriage” and would have if I had anything particularly insightful to say. But in light of some heavy topics that have been on my mind, I have had occasion again to feel deeply how grateful I am for my husband, and now as he puts the girls to bed, I am blogging about him.
It was twelve years ago this weekend that Jeff and I met. It wasn’t until years later that we’d date, but in the time between, he would have won me over with his kindness and humility. When he led worship or spoke publicly or interacted with me, the thing that would strike my heart most often would be the reality of God’s grace, the aspect of my Christian life that I had the most trouble believing and living in. It wouldn’t be just words either; it happened enough for me to notice that I’d consistently experience God’s grace tangibly in my life through Jeff. He gained my respect without knowing it as I watched him walk through one of the toughest seasons in his life with godwardness and faithfulness. And as I saw him respond to my frequent unkindnesses, I knew that I felt safe around him.
The respect and affections in my heart grew over years without me consciously keeping track of them, but if there were an Aha! moment, for me if would be during a message I watched. The pastor said something about how we ought to date a man who was like someone you’d want your sons to grow up to be or your daughters to marry.
And so we dated, and God brought healing into my life as we did.
Jeff fought for me; letting me know I was beautiful to him, and still treating me with purity, having vowed never to put himself in a position to take anything from me. He spoke God’s forgiveness into areas of shame and guilt and God used him to shed gospel light on my duty-bound heart. He wasn’t (isn’t) perfect, no, but I got to see up close confession and asking for forgiveness and repentance and change. When I wondered aloud about our relationship and told a friend that I believed that at least “he loved me the best he knew how”, she asked “what more could you ask for?” And she was right. My respect for him only grew as long as we dated and were engaged and now, five years post-I-do, it continues to do so.
It’s been five years and there’s nothing too flashy or bullet-pointable for us here in good-ole Chang-country. We’re not as good as we should be maybe with planning traditions and date nights and doing couple/family devotions. We don’t have state-of-our-marriage talks too much and even if given time to reflect, it’s hard for my brain to go introspective these days. I’d say these last five years have been made up of more medium-sized decisions and lots of little conversations scattered here and there than any momentous ones. There’s been slow growing trust in one another, hopefully learning to love ourselves less, learning to look to (and look like) Jesus more. It’s been five years of some ups and some downs, mostly the gradual steady inclines rather than the exciting, breathtaking mountain-view kinds. Still the small moments have added to five years testifying to God’s grace and that steady faithfulness of God I had loved seeing reflected in my husband’s life before he was my husband.
I have come to know increasingly what it means that God is my Father through Jeff’s delight in our girls and I have come to trust God’s intentions for me more as I have learned to trust my husband. I could write on and on about this man, but suffice to say I don’t take it for granted that I can be fully behind his call to pastoral ministry not primarily because I think he’s the best preacher (though I love being able to sit under his preaching!) or most gifted person, but because I deeply desire for God to raise more men like him in the way that he lives and follows Christ.
It’s been five years of walking with each other, and learning to apologize and continuing to repent. More importantly, it’s been five more years of walking with Jesus and knowing him more. And this rare night of introspection when what started with deep sadness brought about renewed gratefulness, I am astounded at the mercy and goodness of the Giver of all good gifts.
Thank you, Jesus for these last 5 years. Grant us more of you for all the years we have left together, by your grace, for your glory.