From an article originally posted October 5, 2012…
I have lived over 14 years with my hero. More importantly, I live with a man who has taken 1 Timothy 3 seriously even before we were introduced. He is my daily reminder of grace. You know, grace—the gift you don’t deserve. I will be very clear: he’s not perfect, but he’s humble in his imperfection. He is not my idol, though I have battled that area in my heart with him. To quote Beth Moore. “He makes a fantastic husband, but a lousy savior.” I have had seasons of letting Jason fill the place that is for Jesus alone. That is my heart’s battle. This man has been a daily gift to my heart.
When I look at the verses in Timothy, what I see in my guy is God-given gentleness. That gentleness causes him to lead his family well, gives him the grace to not be quarrelsome, keeps him a husband of one wife. This one wife is daily humbled by the grace shown to me in the husband God brought to me.
Being a person that spent years uncertain of love and acceptance, I have lived in the reflection of the gospel as my husband has loved me in my sin—ugly, and unlovely. Acceptance with Jason has nothing to do with performance but everything to do with his understanding of how loved he is by God in his own weakness and sin.
As I’m in bed, unable to help with my children with bedtime, knowing my guy is exhausted and at the end of his own strength, what I hear coming from the bedrooms of my little people in that moment is their father and their Father.
The love of this man is not dependent on situation or circumstance. He has faced down many a cotton-headed ninnymuggins with such gentleness I’m left dumbfounded. I tend to want to meet a jerk face with my own harshness. Not my hero, he takes loving the unlovely seriously. (Dennis, I in no way think you are a jerk face or a cotton-headed ninnymuggins because your picture is above. Pictures help break up long posts. Nothing but love, brother.)
Let me tell you of the situation my hero has recently found himself. After a cross-country move with a large family, his wife lands faced down on a tile floor, only to discover a heart condition. Six months later, another stressful move (is there any other kind?), to find himself 10 days later, fleeing said house from wildfires; all the while this is happening, he has a HUGE ordination exam that takes tons of mind space and leading the start of a new church. Life is about to get real with ordination 2 months out, and he finds his young wife with cancer. Putting that all in writing makes me tearful for this faithful guy. I think once a day I say to this man, “I’m so sorry your wife has cancer.” I really am so sad this is the way Father is refining him, but it’s our story. This is how God is lovingly leading us. It is hard, at times devastating, but we have found the end of ourselves is not a bad place to be.
Cancer is the gift of suffering that is refining us both. It is breaking us of ourselves, the farce of strength, and causing us to see the grace and gift in the mundane. To be loved by Jesus well, and to love well. Love is a gentle, quiet kindness spent on our nearest neighbors. The neighborhood inside the walls of our home as well as outside our home are struggling, hurting, suffering, but my hero is pointing us all to the One that loves us best. Jason has done this in plenty, in sickness and health.
Jason and I did not do traditional vows in our wedding. We used the covenantal language from Ruth on that beautiful May day so many years ago.
As a person at the bottom of herself, God has gifted me with the grace of a man that meant what he vowed that day. More than that, God has grown in him faith to walk this difficult road with gentleness and much love. I can see how cancer can destroy a marriage. This is extremely difficult on the caretaker, the family, everyone involved. This is not easy for Jason. We have learned no deep spiritual insight to face this other than utter dependence on Christ.
Yesterday a huge weight was finally lifted from my guy. After years of faithfully plugging away at school, life, study, and faithfulness, Jason completed the exams to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America. The process was tough, especially with the circumstances that were surrounding my guy. In the midst of his stress, he loved us well, but PRAISE BE, he has one thing off his plate. The relief is slowly setting in in our home. He said at the end Mark Bates prayed for our family. He said, with the test complete, the reality of cancer set in in a new way. He said he cried and continued to cry on the way home.
My hero has walked a tough road, but he has walked it with grace. I’m beyond thankful I get to do hard next to him. I’m also thankful he still thinks I’m cute bald and all. I LOVE THIS MAN!!
I’m so sorry your wife has cancer. I cannot imagine what it is like to watch your best friend suffer like she is. I love how you show me the nearness of God is our only good in life. Thank you for shepherding us all so well. I know we don’t know what the future holds, but I love being a treasure hunter with you and finding the peace in THIS day. I have never for one day deserved the love you have shown me, but I’m eternally grateful for it. You are a gift to me. I can’t wait to see what Jesus has in store. I know the end of our story, the adventure of today is so much better with you. Thank you for changing my story and showing me unconditional love.