01 Feb My PRECIOUS Valentine
In the early 90’s, my first “real” date with my future wife was in Moscow, Idaho (the “Paris of the Palouse” *grin*).
If I had been able to peer into the future, I might have told her the following:
“Jill, you and I are gonna get married! Knowing that, I feel obliged to give you a heartfelt ‘heads up.’
More than two decades from now your gaze and grin will equally, continually captivate me. Alas…
In coming years, your irises will occasionally hold deep pain, such as when we will spend months in Pediatric ICU. Our second child is going to have brain cancer.
On our first day at the hospital I will be strong. Heck, I’ll even ‘guarantee’ that our baby son will live.
But I will slowly crumble.
Many months of sleeplessness, night terrors, and deep fear will leave me broken inside. Nevertheless, you will never look at me with disgust.
It will eventually dawn on me that you are more kind AND tougher than I. This will be vital, because we will receive a ‘helpful’ pamphlet that will place the odds of our marriage surviving at ten percent.
On the very day that I start to get recover, I’ll note how your bright eyes will fill with relief and joy.
A decade will pass.
In all honesty, to me you won’t look older.
Alas, my aging process will be different.
I’m gonna gain *cough* 40 pounds.
Whenever I sheepishly mention this, you will remember that my primary ‘Love Language’ is/are ‘words of affirmation.’ As such, you will point to my arms and state, ‘No! Look at your muscles!’
Though I’ll try to laugh off the compliment, I’ll feel a little better about myself because—for better or worse—I will stay in touch with my emotions. Speaking of which…
You know how I have what people call ‘soft skills?
SURPRISE! I’ll ask you to join me in taking a ‘vow of poverty’ as I continue in the education biz. 😉
We will always live from month-to-month, but all of our needs—and so many of our wants—will be Provided for.
When I opine, ‘I wish I that could take us on big trips, or sign our children up for fancier activities,’ your smile will invariably become more tender. You’ll always tell me:
‘I’m so happy, Jon. Our sons and daughters are healthy, and you are a great provider for our family.’
My shame will dissipate into the ether. For you, young lady, will live out Proverbs 25:11:
‘Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken at the right time.’
On the subject of phrases being spoken at the proper time, I need to warn you about three, final things:
First, I’m going to follow your father’s path into school counseling.
About one night a week you will notice me sit bolt upright in bed because thoughts of a hurting child or broken clan will interrupt my slumber.
Sometimes you will pray for me.
In other instances, you’ll get up and help me to talk through it (with no names involved).
Every time, you will ensure that I do not have to struggle alone. In you I’ll see the wisdom in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:
‘Two are better than one… If either of them falls down, one can help the other up…. If two lie down together, they will keep warm…. A cord of three strands [God, you, and me] is not easily broken.’
Second, you are gonna find that I am unable to keep my mouth shut if a child’s heart or body is in an unsafe situation.
As such, though I will be blessed with unmerited favor in the eyes of many families, I’ll have to ‘keep my head on a swivel’ for those who do not make good choices in this area.
Third, as years of sad/mad stories pile up on my heart—despite my best attempts to release them—my outgoing personality will start to change.
I will become more like my father.
Even then you will still look at me like I’m your hero. And your edification of others won’t stop with ‘yours truly.’
You will become the finest mama I have ever seen… and that’s saying a lot, because my own mom is amazing.
Though I’ll write articles, and speak in front of groups, I will gladly tell anyone in earshot an unassailable fact:
‘My wife is a better person than I.’
I couldn’t do it.
Any of it.
The truth is, roughly 25 years from this college Valentine’s outing, I will love you FAR MORE than ever. Though we will work hard at it, the ‘Giver of every good and perfect gift’ will ultimately get all of the credit (Gal 6:14).
As it should be.
I know it’s just our first big date, and all…
But I thought that you should know how you are—and always will be—the finest person that I know.”
Yep. That’s what I’d say to Jill, as we sat across table from each other, in Moscow’s ‘fanciest’ restaurant. Only, realistically, I wouldn’t have gotten past the whole “our eventual child is going to have cancer” part.
I’m pretty sure that I would have seen that beautiful, young woman hustling past the establishment’s window… away from me.
And I absolutely would have followed her.