This evening our Life Group of five couples met. The final minutes of our discussion time brought the challenge for each participant to identify what was most admired about our individual spouses. Wanting to genuinely identify what is most appreciated in the mister, there was hurried mental sorting of descriptive terms and qualities while simultaneously trying to listen to the first couple's professions.
"Peacemaker," popped into my head. Mmmm... definitely a favorite since life brings enough struggle without a contentious marriage, but discarded because of the possibility that it implied an inability to deal with conflict. That tendency was one long since put aside in favor of simply addressing any issue in a way that was usually kind and that honored the person with whom he might have a difference of opinion, belief, or desire. Each of these thoughts brought a flood of memories flashing along with words that were not quite right, but revealed a theme. Mmmm... a-ha!
The mister's turn arrived, and he said the most extraordinary thing. The word he used was, "compassion." Eh? Say what? When we married, I believed tears to be dangerous things that betrayed weakness; yet, I cried all through our wedding. Here was this man who knows my heart recognizing that my heart breaks for what breaks others' hearts, and that he likes that seeing others' needs spurs a response to pray for them and to seek some method of assistance. Huh.
My word for him? Integrity. This man has chosen to chase after Christ rather than merely acknowledge Him with a token nod. The mister does not simply attend church, but he lives what he says he believes. He is what he presents himself to be in the setting of our marriage extending outward to the least intimate relationships.
On the way home, we talked about how very different these descriptions of one another were from those that would have fit us as a bride and groom, or in the early years of marriage when our children were small. It was striking to discover that those traits least evident in each of us in the beginning of our relationship (characterized more by my selfishness than giving and his passive aggression rather than straight-forward conflict resolution) had slowly evolved as we grew closer and remained steadfast in our commitment. It was a moment to savor the differences in us and our relationship, and to anticipate what further growth may come.