Wednesday, May 18, 2005

What's Our Family Like?

Before Andrew and I were married, we had a conversation with an elder at my church. He was in his early 70s. His skin was wrinkled and the sides of his head were lightly sparsed with faded blond bristles. "I was in love with my wife when I married her," he said with wave of his hand in a ho-hum voice. Then, he bent over in his chair, his blue eyes piercing, and with a fierceness that caught me off guard said: "but it wasn't a fraction of the way I love her now."

When Andrew and I started dating, I used to think, "How could anyone possibly be as happy as we are together? Are people even allowed to be this happy? Doesn't this surpass the human happiness capacity?" But what that man said really sobered me. It made my feelings for Andrew seem like only a pebble in comparison to what it would become after a lifetime together. I see for myself, now, what my sister and her husband used to say before we were married: it only gets better and better. We were so incredibly in love when we got married. And now added to that is a depth and a richness that can only come with the commitment of marriage and sharing life experiences together. Andrew and I get to be growing up together. We are one, and it's so wonderful sharing everything, becoming shaped by each other and our shared experiences.

Andrew is like no other person I've ever seen. I once said to him, "Boy, if I could just be a better wife, you would probably love me more." To my surpise, though, he answered no. He shook his head, shrugged his shoulders and with an earnest voice said, "I just love you." He is always so patient and gentle with me, always gives me the benefit of the doubt, always assumes the best. Most of all, his love is unconditional. For instance, it's important to us to talk through our weaknesses. Sometimes, we have an incredible conversation and make some headway, getting at the root of why I react wrongly or inappropriately at times. We start trying to dig and get at the root of uglinesses in me. At the end of our conversation, I find myself wondering why he would ever have wanted to put up with someone like me in the first place. Yet, he always shocks me with what he says instead: "Wow, I feel so much closer to you now. I feel like I know you. And I just love you even more." This is always the last thing I expect him to say.

We also love that we had our baby so early on. Just as my sister and her husband had also said, children enhance your marriage. We love taking A.J. everywhere we go. Last Tuesday, we left A.J. with a sitter and Andrew took me out for dinner for my birthday. We found that our conversations were just as good and in-depth without A.J. as with him. The only difference was that we were missing the joy of our baby's company. We know that when the baby gets a little older that we will need regular times alone. But right now A.J. is the easiest I think he could possibly be. He can't move by himself, he can't even talk, he doesn't cry hardly at all, and he sleeps 10 hours through the night. We love looking into his face and carrying him around wherever we go. We want LOTS of children. More than your American average. By far. So actually, it feels like we even had a late start in terms of how old we are and how many children we hope to have (I just turned 25). Hopefully, the babies will keep coming and quickly. We are already feeling ready for another one. (No, that wasn't a typo).

We don't drive a BMW SUV or live in a big house. But we do have each other, the three of us. And what we want more of, is little ones to run around our home. They are much better than things that mold, rust, and break down. It is our hope that we will never love money, as tempting as we find that desire. We feel we live comfortably (course if you’ve seen our two-bedroom apartment and multifarious furniture, you might beg to differ). Our definition of living comfortably may not fit that of an upper-class American, but by virtue of being Americans, we know that we are actually rich. After seeing what some parts of the world live like, we are certain that we are wealthy. God has provided so much more for us than the necessities and only continues to do so.

Anyway, I'd like to give you a glimpse of how wonderful my husband is, and this is just one tiny, mundane instance of it. Last Thursday, I got my wisdom teeth out. They were extremely impacted, pushed all my teeth forward, and ruined much of the work my wonderful orthodontist did when I was 12 (sorry, Mom). Andrew worked so hard to take care of me after my surgery, the way I imagine he would love to be taken care of if it had been himself. He got out the blender that had been stored away since our wedding and ground up soup and vegetables for me for each meal. He bought me nutrient-rich drinks that were meant as meal supplements, made me drink lots of milk, and bought me milkshakes. It was so important to him not merely that I just have some meals to hold me over for the next few days, but that my meals were as balanced and nutritious as possible. He loved me as his own flesh, just as he determined to do as we prepared to get married. I don't believe this is by any means because I am worthy of it. It is much more a reflection of his own ability to love. Really, it is a supernatural love. A selfless love that human beings of themselves cannot give. Andrew has just spent a lot of time studying God's Word that commands a husband to love his wife just as Christ loves the Church. And so he has spent a year-and-a-half praying to be able to do that and working at it each day. And the Lord has answered and continues to give him the ability to love someone who by no means deserves it.

Finally, I want to say this. As you can see from the above, there is nothing on earth that I cherish more than my husband and son. However, while I was going under as the oral surgeon put me to sleep, I saw A.J.'s face in my mind as a comforting thought. That didn't cut it, though. So, I thought of Andrew. That didn't work either. Finally, I knew the only answer to peace in my heart was thinking on the Lord. And in that moment between consciousness and unconsciousness, I remembered what I knew to be the reality: Andrew and my baby are empty in comparison to knowing the Lord. As the elder in my church said in his ho-hum voice that he was in love with his wife when he married her and said with fierceness how much more he loves her now, I would like to say that my husband and son pale, they fade in comparison to knowing the Lord. And when I know that, when I find my satisfaction completely in who the Lord is, is when I am able to fully enjoy my husband and son.


  1. I loved this grace. It is such a witness to our Lord's kindness and satiating love. He satisfies the hungry heart.
    Praise Jesus for saving you and Andrew and giving you AJ.
    un beso,

  2. Gracie,
    what a beautiful picture of love...i'm so happy when i read this.
    love, joy

  3. Grace, this really blessed me; as I am sorting through a paradigm shift in my thinking from what the Holy Spirit has convicted me of temporal to the most amazing eternal ways God has designed for us to live in. I really treasured your description of your family, your love for and in-love with and love from your husband, the joy of your child (now children!) and foremost, your delight in the Lord.

    P.S. Just returned from a brief stint in Barcelona for a TESL course, took some good foot-pounding flamenco... and I already miss it.