That’s what your mama had said — that it was the last day of January in the middle of a Canadian snowstorm.
And all the farmers up and down the gravel roads had milked their cows in the morning and headed to the city’s Indoor Farm Show.
And she had you, her ninth born, alone and late into that howling storm.
Today you turn 39.
What do you give a man who doesn’t have everything — but has given everything?
“The highest act of love is the giving of the best gift….”
But what do you give a man who’s laid down his life and took out the garbage and fed the dog and changed the diapers on how many kids and worked 18 hour days for years — and still winks when he comes in the back door and sees you?
What do you wrap up for a man who’s played how many games of Dutch Blitz with kids on Sunday afternoons and tied a few thousands pairs of shoes over the years and carried more than a baby or two on the hip, on the shoulder, right next to his chest, long into the teething night?
Who comes to you late and reaches out his hand under the quilts and finds your bare wrist and traces round you with his fingertips and this is enough… just the soundless giving.
I need to know: What do you give a man who knows by heart and by hand, the landscape of your inner parts and loves you relentlessly — regardless?
This is the bestowing of a miracle.
You have done such things for me.
They say marriage can wait – but education cannot. You know how I disagree. Love is the only education that matters.
And I’d rather learn lamplight, you curved around me. And it’s what you’ve taught me with these rings and these vows that have shaped me—
That you can’t wonder why love’s wearing thin when you’re wearing a thick layer of self.
That we’re happiest when we both keep giving the other the biggest end of the stick. This is hard. But being angry and lonelier is harder. (About five years of my selfishness can attest to that). There is no such thing as 50-50. There’s only giving more and being more happier. Fair and equal is an illusion. The only reality is relationship and this is what Christ lived and died. This changes everything.
There is no successful living apart from relational living. Success is not measured in status or square footage or stocks – but in surrender and sacrifice. Do they teach that in every business class?
And somewhere along the way, especially during the years when I was leaving my twenties — when I was struggling with you are and who I am, with what is never going to be and what is — that’s when you’ve taught me: Easy is how you rate recipes not relationships.
Love is always hard because dying to self is, but I want to do it – because I want you.
This is what Christ lived and died. You’ve done this a thousand times better than I.
If the “highest act of love is the giving of the best gift” what do you give a man who doesn’t have everything — but has given everything?
Remember how we went last week to see Mr. and Mrs. Lyle? What have they been married – 61 years?
And they showed us their little one room pad at the retirement home, her cross-stitch on the wall and his recliner by the window and you nodded and told them how nice it was, this love nest of theirs.
And all I wanted to do was lean over and move those two single beds of theirs right together.
Separated by three feet.
If nothing can separate the love of Christ, I don’t want three feet to separate me from your love in the end.
I saw how Mrs. Lyle looked up at Mr. Lyle.
I can’t forget that. I never want to forget how she looked at him, all that love and respect and longing.
That’s what made me say it there other night in the dark, standing at the foot of our bed, you sleeping.
The whole house sleeping.
I looked out at the orchard in winter moonlight and I heard you breathing, saw your socks lying there on the floor.
And I said it right out loud, “I just want to grow old.”
The gift of grey hair and wrinkled foreheads and deep laugh lines and everything settling south and with you.
What does it matter if we never have a vacation or see the Grand Canyon or if the van rusts right through or if the mattress springs sag to the floor like an old mare given out?
We don’t have to try to arrive anywhere or climb anything or try to figure out how to make it –
Just make our lives a living sacrifice and let the days makes us like gold, to arrive before His throne.
The luxury of simply, lavishly growing old with you, all the messy, magnificent days adding up to years – I don’t know if He will ever give this and it’s His alone to give –
But every day is one day more and each sunrise is one day older and what if we were done with missing out on whatever we have right now?
If the highest love gives the best gift – is the best gift the gift of the everyday?
The everyday asking and listening and picking up your socks and saying nothing and rubbing your back and laying out fresh towels and smiling more because this is what you like that best. That our life together makes me happy and you can see it, how my eyes dance.
Everyday washing your stubble out of the sink and everyday sitting beside you and everyday saying nothing but leaning over and touching your hand.
It doesn’t matter how our love started or has stumbled – only that it keeps growing. This, by grace, we can do everyday.
There’s a thousand ways to keep moving closer, to close the gap on the three feet between us.
It’s after you blow out the birthday candles that you go out to the tractor on the last day of January and you move all that Canadian snow. Push back our storms.
I sit next to you on the tractor seat.
There isn’t a fraction of an inch between us. You can’t measure success in anything but relationship.
That’s when you look over from the steering wheel and say it, “This – this here is the best gift.”
The way everyday there can moving closer. The way grace can fill the space so nothing separates…
The way love grows older everyday….
The way the days join us again at the hip and at the rib and at the heart…
Every Wednesday, we Walk with Him, posting a spiritual practice that draws us nearer to His heart.
For the Next 3 Weeks: The Practice of Love How do we love in difficult places? Our husbands? Our children? How do we live out the greatest of commandments? We look forward to your thoughts, stories, ideas….
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