Rachel’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago. We honestly didn’t really do anything special for it. Which is completely my bad. We were up in Wisconsin and we drove to her parent’s house for dinner and dessert. I feel asleep on the couch until it was time to drive home and then I was grumpy that I had to drive home late on a Sunday night with work the next morning. We then got in a fight on the drive home. Which, if my memory serves me right, was provoked by the tired and grumpy version of myself. It was not a good 30th birthday for Rachel.
I’m sure most of us in marriages have stories like this, but grief is a hard road to walk hand in hand with your spouse. Grief makes you exhausted and it makes you selfish. Almost all of your energy is spent dealing with your own thoughts and emotions and you feel like you have very little leftover to give to your spouse. While at the same time your spouse is going through the same thing and as a result you have two tired and selfish individuals that don’t have the energy to have empathy. This is basically a recipe for marital disaster.
Luckily (or unluckily in our case), Rachel and I have walked this road before and so we have enough knowledge to call a spade a spade. We are at least aware enough to see what’s going on and try to recognize our own selfishness, although sometimes it is after the fact.
As for Rachel’s birthday, we’ve never been ones to do a ton for the other person’s birthday. Usually we go out to eat and they open presents and it’s just the two of us. It’s difficult to know now how to make a birthday feel special. Nothing feels very special. With the holidays coming up we are both pretty certain that neither Thanksgiving nor Christmas will feel special. In fact, if they do feel special it will be because we will likely feel especially sad missing our children on those days.
Be that as it may, in the midst of this season of grief and in the midst of this upcoming holiday season I wanted to say something that any of you who read this blog already know, and that is that my wife Rachel is amazing. I hardly ever write some gushy thing on facebook showing the world my love for her, that’s not really my style. Something about it seems insincere (at least to me, you do what you do), but I want to brag about her here for a minute if you’ll let me.
|A beautiful picture of Rachel|
First off, like the rest of you, I read the stuff Rachel writes in awe. I was as shocked to discover what a talented writer she is. In fact, I have seen her writing grow and improve over the last year and a half and some of her most recent posts are absolutely spectacular (especially the one about abortion).
Her wrestling through grief for the world to see if something that is worthy of admiration and love. Her goal isn’t even to “make her grief into something beautiful” but it naturally happens through her writing. Her desire to love and help others, and her desire to love and serve Jesus both shine through even in the moments when she doesn’t even emotionally feel those things. Those truths have so permeated into her character and are rooted so deeply down into her heart that even when she is writing something that is dark there is a light that shines through.
I loved her before these things, but I love her for these things.
She is something very special. As many of you know and as I have heard many of you say.
I hate (as so many of you do) that she and I have had to walk this road. It’s not really a consolation prize that we might walk it well. But then again, I think deep down both of us long to hear the words “well done my good and faithful servant” from our Lord, and so we try to walk well, even on the days when those words seem a joke to us. And Rachel is walking well.
As her husband I know ALL of the behind the scenes secrets that you don’t get to know. I know the ugliness, I know the darkness, I know the selfishness. We all have these things, they are a part of us all. But I am proud to say that for Rachel those things don’t define her. They are not what shines through, they do not dominate her character. What does is love, patience, kindness, self-control, gentleness, and faithfulness (and she's beautiful too). And to top those off she is an excellent wife and an excellent mother to our children. I know with all of my heart that Clive and Winnie both know what an amazing mom they were blessed with. It’s hard to know sometimes (since she is such an amazing mom) why she didn’t get to mother for longer. But as with a lot of things in life, we don’t get to decide that.
So, I just want to say happy belated birthday to Rachel and in this Thanksgiving season she is who I am most thankful for. She is someone who brings so much joy into my life and I cannot imagine walking this road with anyone else. She makes me better. I can only hope the same is true the other way.