The words wash over me, plunging me deep in the darkness. I cannot see his eyes, but I peer closely to where I know his face is and wonder at the words.
“I don’t love you because I have to, I love you because I get to.”
He has said things like this before, but perhaps I wasn’t awake to the full implications of the depths of the statement. Ironically, now that we are lying in bed waiting for sleep to descend, I can finally listen. The truth settles over me, liquid seeking the correct level and I slowly rise above the fear and doubt that have been pulling me under.
Did I ask it aloud, or could he simply hear the fears of my heart? Could he sense the need of my soul?
“Because I get to.”
I used to thrash around from such a statement, my neediness making me deaf with my lack of faith. I wanted him to flatter me, to lavish me with compliments, to convince me of the my worth. But now, a full decade into our marriage, I hear the conviction, I’ve witnessed the commitment of the loyal man who has partnered with me in marriage, led me in my faith, and showered me with love.
I finally hear, I finally know. He believes loving me is a privilege, that weathering the storms of our relationship is worth the pain. Over and over again, he has astounded me with his own disbelief that I love him, as though he is the lucky one. How can we, such different people, from such different places, find a love that pulls us so closely towards one another?
There is someone else who has taught us this love, this sacrifice, this fierce commitment that sacrifices the convenience of the moment for the prize of our witness. Year by year, we learn how selfish we are, learn to guard our words, learn to yield our hearts. Slowly, the unmasking takes time, it takes endurance, something neither of us naturally possess.
Tears flow sideways down my face to be absorbed by the soft sheets. I recognize this love he is expressing, this man speaking hope into darkness. This man who has long-feared his words cannot reach me and fill my need. I recognize the love of the Father who has spoken through the Son who has given the gift of His Spirit. My husband loves me as Christ loved the church and willingly lay down His life for her … my husband loves me like that. I am not a burden he bears, I am a joy he treasures. This should be shouted, but I can barely whisper, my throat closes and I struggle not to sob. He, who outside of God knows me best, who has overheard my imaginary conversations, who has read some of my worst writing, witnessed my outbursts of unrighteous fury, loves me as though I am the blessing. And now I see God, here in the darkness, in the form of my best friend and lover, my husband, who loves me like God.
- My Husband, My Leader [Mth 7-Day 7-Post 49] (destinationdiscipline.wordpress.com)