the greatest of these …

Was it many friends encouraging a meeting or sheer curiosity? Was it a desire for adventure without any obligations or a lonely heart searching for companionship in the unlikeliest of places? Destiny or pure luck?  Providence or mere physical attraction? Whatever the case, two lives colliding at just the right time can turn a world upside down, derail plans, create a reality you never dreamed or wanted to imagine.

And how do you say thank you to the one who has led you into that uncharted territory?  The one that was momentarily foolhardy enough to accept a wager that forever changed your life – who took a chance on the unknown, just because.

It seems odd that I haven’t even known you half my life and yet you know me far deeper than anyone else.

Do words exist to match the feelings rooted in a heart once so afraid to trust that has been bolstered out of the shadows into light?  You’ve given me what no one else dared.
You loved me when all you knew was the contrived best of me that I let you see, but continued to search for more.

You ignited interests and passions in me that had been suffocated by the status quo —  a history book will never look the same and today’s films pale in comparison with the classics.

And isn’t that so like you? You look for quality in society and culture, always finding the best in others, and so it shouldn’t surprise me that you loved me in my darkest times … so terrifying I didn’t even know myself, but you?  You knew the heart of me that was cloaked in depression, and held on tight, never letting go.  A constant reminder that where I was, would not be the end of our story.

Yes, you never let me hold on to the supposition that love could have two separate dwelling places.  “There is no you and me. Only us.” And we are alwaysworth fighting for.

You gave me license to do just that and I think only you could have lived under such a critical eye, always shining a self-righteous glare on the messiness of life, and through it all you have taught me about love.  You never pointed the spotlight in my direction, but always embraced with forgiveness and grace.

So how do you say thank you to the one who by his own example has taught you more about Jesus than you ever understood in the previous years of knowing and following Him?

You’ve held me when the weight of loss crushed me physically, emotionally, and threatened spiritual suffocation. You’ve let me grieve in my way and have prayerfully walked me through the corresponding fears.

You’ve rejoiced with me in times of victory and mourned with me in times of defeat. You’ve created life with me, making me a mother – a new identity, and when that meant a new way of life, one less income, four children and a stay-at-home mom, you encouraged me to discover what that would look like for me, and never would you try to squeeze me into a stereotype.

You have dreamed for me when I’ve forgotten how to dream. Your questions provoke and inspire and again you teach me by example …

To love is to lay down your life for another, and you do it daily.  You must think I don’t notice, but the way you approach life always asking “What does this mean for us? How can we do this together?” — You never view me as “just a mom” or allow me to believe (as I’m inclined to) that my intelligence was thwarted the moment I left the work place. It’s humbling and inspiring and life giving – to know that in the middle of my invisible years, I am actively engaged in something bigger than myself, because of you … because of us.   

The thing is, it is impossible to say in one moment of one day what your love means, and to say I am blessed would be an understatement of gargantuan proportions.  But I can daily lay down my life for you … I can seek to serve, to give and receive grace, to create for you a safe place of comfort and refuge.

I can and I will continue to choose you every day of my life, and maybe in the highs and lows, the monotony and the craziness, the joy and the tears of us, you will know how much I love you and how forever grateful I am that you took a chance on a girl you’d met only once, that you kept calling, that you pursued, and chose me to be yours.

I’m sure chatter, curiosity, and attraction played a part, but I am convinced more than ever before that

A man’s steps are established by the Lord,
and He takes pleasure in his way. 
Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed,

because the Lord holds his hand.
Psalm 37:23-24
 
“But the greatest of these is love …” 
1 Corinithians 13:13