He saw me before I saw him, but once I heard his voice my eyes lit up, my smile grew wide and my heart lifted. I ran across the airport into his arms and we embraced as if this were a young love. His arms are my shelter. His scent is balm to my soul. His heart, so giving and joyful, I feel blessed every day to be his bride. “His bride,” that is what he calls me still. We have been married 21 years and I am still his bride. We have 8 children together and I am still his “Bright Eyes.” We dance in the kitchen. We snuggle on the couch. We laugh long, cry often, and love deeply. We lift up each other to the Lord with every glance. “Thank you, Lord,” is a breathable prayer uttered constantly throughout our days.
When I first met this man, he was a boy. I first loved his goodness. Yes, his eyes were amazing and his laugh was contagious, (Just thinking about it makes me giggle.) but what truly touched me first was his goodness; his ethic of life. He recognizes the inherent dignity of each individual he encounters. He has a vulnerability that breaks down walls and mends fences. From the little things in life to the big moral choices, he will always choose the right. These are hard standards to live with sometimes, but they have formed all of us in this family to be better humans and a stronger family.
He’s a listener, my husband. Wrapping his arms around me, he takes the time to hear me and support me from near or far. He’s learned to not solve problems for me but listens as I process through my options, always guiding, always loving. Knowing that environment is key, he takes each of our children away to connect with them. He builds relationships through experiences and conversation and they remember. They turn to him. We all do. He is our rock.
This rock has been traveling often and working longer and harder lately as a new job position has mandated lots of changes in our family. We prayed deeply over this new change and recognized what it would ask of each of us within this marriage and family. Sacrifice and fortitude are not new to us and we are weathering the new challenges with grateful hearts and a recognition that like shells found upon the sands brought in from the ocean tide, we will be made smooth through these sacrifices and trials. I am so proud of him.
More and more I am recognizing all he has given and continues to give. I have prayed for eyes to see and love more deeply. I am privileged to have his office at home, so I hear his conversations with his coworkers. He praises and laughs and shares stories with them like he does with the clerk at the grocery store! I always say it’s the Ohio in him, as I am from NY, but truly it’s just a reflection of the true goodness within his soul. He works long hours, balancing being present when he is home as much as possible, tag-teaming a therapy appointment or a play practice and yet always making time to keep our marriage a priority. While he is at work and away, I am holding down the home front, schooling the kids, forming souls, managing the house, taking to therapies, doctors’ appointments, and outside activities and continuing to welcome in the stranger and bear witness to God’s mission for our family: to live and love openly.
We raise our children to recognize how blessed they are to be children created from a love like this. We tell them never to compromise; that to be able to love truly and deeply, to be able to weather trials and tribulations, you must recognize the unity between each other and draw from that source. For us, that source will always be Jesus Christ; His spirit rising up, intertwining our hearts, guiding our actions and mending our wounds together.
As I quiet my heart this Christmas season, I am continually thinking of this special love I have with my husband and it has grown quite dear these past few weeks. Pondering why my love for this husband of mine has become my Advent reflection, I hear the words “A love like this.”
That is it! That is where my Advent was this year! A recognition of the infant child Jesus born so that I may have eternal life. This love, modeled throughout his human life, is an example to all of how to live and how to love. This season I am drawn to that recognition through the actions and love of my husband. How blessed I am to have a love like this.