"Has not the Lord made them one in flesh and spirit? And what does He desire but God-like children? Be careful then in your spirit, and stay faithful to the wife you married when you were young." Malachi 2:15
We savor slow mornings over steaming coffee and the local paper. My husband reads the facts while I pour over every misspelled word and poorly written sentence between bites. (If only I had a red marking pencil!). Hardly a word spoken between us except for grace, we find comfort just being together.
I grew up wondering if I'd ever know a faithful man; if living happily ever after was just for Disney films because growing up, my home was far from fairy tale perfection. My father walked away leaving my homemaking mom to finish raising three girls alone with no car, no license, no job.
Even so, I wished for the happily ever after ending...prayed for it...always...held onto hope that some day, somehow my dad would come home and we'd be whole again.
His leaving messed me up; made trusting people hard because I figured if I messed up they'd just leave me like he did. So, I built high walls all around my heart, allowing very few friends inside. My husband was one of the few.
We met over breakfast almost forty years ago at his mother's kitchen table. He was ten. I was twelve and in need of a ride to church. His mother volunteered to drive and that's when it all started. His mother bridged the awkward two year gap between us with her friendly smile and easy conversations until we could hold our own a few years later.
He and I talked for hours after school, at youth group, and walked downtown to watch 99 cent movies together now and again. But we never dated. At least we never called it that. We were simply good friends who could talk about anything and everything for hours and enjoyed being together.
Then on Sunday, June 7, 1981, eight years after sharing our first breakfast, everything changed...just like in the fairy tales. I watched him play softball from the sidelines that afternoon and I realized he was more than my very best friend. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.
But I feared my mother's fate. Although my father DID return home, I wondered if my chosen one would be faithful, trustworthy and loyal. My heart wondered, "Would he love me forever?"
While our wedding and honeymoon rivaled the best fairy tale, our marriage (now almost 30 years strong) has been far from perfect because we are imperfect people. But one thing I've learned: He is NOT my father. He is trustworthy, faithful, loyal and still my very best friend. He loves the Lord and with God, we tackle the hardest pitches life throws our way. He never gives up on me, always believes the best of me and I love him more today than I did when I watched him slurp his Cheerios at his mom's kitchen table.
And today, when I bridge the awkward gap between my father and the nursing home staff - when I hold what's left of his life between my hands - and cry real tears that only forgiveness allows- I realize how blessed I am with a husband who loves me...forever.
Thank you, Father, for tearing down our high walls through the power your forgiveness brings. Thank you for loving, God fearing, faithful husbands who bring great joy and call out the best in their wives. I pray for those suffering from father wounds that you would rescue them, bind their wounded hearts, restore them so that they, too may know the freedom you bring. Release us, Father, from the chains unforgiveness holds tight around our hearts. Help us to love as you love, to offer forgiveness as you freely gave, and to walk fully in your Light in all our relationships. Amen.