He doesn’t know that I’m peeking over at him as he works through some statistics homework. He’s sprawled out on the couch, feet propped up on the ottoman, pondering some figures scrawled across the page of a notebook. Blue jeans, navy t-shirt. Short, curling hair. Gray steel rimmed glasses.
Today I am very thankful to be married to this man. The level of contentment I feel right now, as he tackles homework, the dishwasher runs and banana bread rises in the oven…I’m not sure I can accurately describe it or share it. We have been through some stuff in four years of marriage, but I don’t think that there is anyone that I would have preferred to go through that stuff with. Chris is the greatest blessing of my life, even on the days when we both wake up crabby, the dog has puked in the bed and there’s more month than money.
I don’t know that I believe in soul mates, but I do believe in the love that he extends toward me each and every day. He chooses to love me. I choose to love him. That’s what makes a marriage, I think. You have to choose to love, and sometimes that means putting up with a lot. Now, I’m not advocating sticking around or being silent if abuse is happening, but I do think people forget far too often that love isn’t just an emotion. Those vows we make on our wedding days? They take work.
That, I think, is what I appreciate the most about Chris: he works at it. He always tries to find the good in every situation and in every person. That optimism definitely lifts my often negative attitude. He wakes up most mornings and, after a little coffee and some time to adjust that he’s arisen at 4 a.m., tackles the day with joy. Sometimes this annoys me to no end, because I just want to be crabby and I want him to be crabby with me, but, in the end, I always feel cheered by his smile and his positive outlook.
The reason that Chris works at it and why he’s so positive is definitely because of Jesus. I may be the theology major, but his straightforward faith is inspiring to me. So many things are just not an issue to him, because he has such a deep trust in the Lord. I see this every time he prays, every time he bends an ear to listen to a friend, every time he uncomplainingly pitches in, every time he gets down on his knees to play with the kiddos. My faith is often that of the head, his is of the heart. For that I am supremely grateful. We balance each other.
So, Chris, thank you. Thank you for being who you are and for being my husband.
I’m also thinking about freedom tonight, what with the 4th being tomorrow. A Ken Burns documentary is playing tonight, about the Statue of Liberty. The idea of liberty, the complicated history of the American people and nation, the different perspectives and truly fragile unity that holds us all together. What does it really mean to be free? Does freedom only come from the country in which you live? Is it something greater?
There are widely ranging views on this. All men are created equal and deserve liberty – we quote that, but do we really believe that? When we tie Jesus to certain political parties or nations, don’t we end up cutting liberty off? Don’t we end up using rigidity to define freedom? Is that unavoidable? Can freedom be had without boundaries?
As for me, I believe that real freedom is only found in knowing Christ, regardless of who you are and where you live. I have to confess, though: I don’t live that truth out very well. I am far too easily consumed by what I do and don’t have. By what my bank account says. By what people think of me. All too quickly I allow myself to become enslaved to things that He died to set me free from. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?
The Statue of Liberty has a poem engraved on it. Emma Lazarus wrote, in part:
Give me your tired, you poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me..
I hear the voice of Jesus in that. Tired, poor, anyone yearning to be free. He holds His arms out for them. For us. For everyone.
The sun is beginning to set and a persistent tiredness within me refuses to be put aside any longer. The scarf draping my front window flutters in a slight breeze, bringing with it the scent of roses. Husbands and freedom, breezes and roses. I suppose my thoughts make little sense this eve.