The first time I ever saw him, he had a baby in his arms. He looked so natural that I assumed it was his, and only later did I realize he was holding a friend’s baby. That he wasn’t, in fact, married.
I watched him from afar, admired his passion to take gospel hope back into rural villages and took in Bibles and sang Spanish songs and played his guitar. As he worked with the volunteer fire department, as he taught his class of rowdy boys at our children’s ministry. Everything he did was done will all of him. There was something so alive, so consumed about doing what he believed, so sold out to God’s story that it captivated me.
Subconsciously my unspoken list of what kind of person I would marry was formed in his shadow. I tried not to like him, awkwardly gave him the cold shoulder while working closely in a children’s ministry. I did it all wrong, and yet, it still happened. God’s story was deeper than my fumblings.
They say marriage isn’t to make you happy, but holy, and it couldn’t be truer. There are times when Daniel speaks the exact words I need to hear, but they aren’t comfortable. Daniel is a beautiful blend of unwavering commitment to truth and unquestioning love to me as a broken and needy human. God uses his mouth constantly to be the messenger of truth I need.
Our relationship is unique, like we are, I guess… A couple days ago I said, “ I haven’t bought you anything for your birthday.” “Good!,” he replied… We are spontaneous to a fault, date on a dime, and would opt for camping deep in the woods over a luxurious cruise. We would rather save money than spend it. So this year for his birthday, he gets to snuggle our 7 day old son. I worked pretty hard for this gift, after all.
We’ve faced really painful seasons: death, grief, church turbulence and now the demands of him being in school while raising our family. We’ve had to press through personality differences to grab onto better communication. We mess up, and we misunderstand each other. But under it all, we know we are committed to each other, and to God.
I used to think adults had it all together. But now that I am one, I’m learning how we ALL are on a journey to wholeness, to diving deep into the person God created us to be. Growing and walking honestly, single or married, takes staggering courage at times.
Again and again I see Daniel rising when he is weary and choose to invest in his children. To speak truth and to encourage those around him. If you don’t know him well, you are missing out. 😉
Last night he pulled our 6 day old son to himself, sighed and smiled. “You keep smiling this same smile I saw when we were dating,” I told him. It danced at the edge of his mouth and glittered from his eyes. “It’s the ‘it’s too good to be true’ smile,” he said.
I keep smiling it too. This man that I fell in love with as a young man is now a daddy to five, braving uncharted waters of hanging up a job he loved to go to school full time. I see him intentionally building a relationship with our children that directly reflects the healing he’s finding in God.
Marriage is to make us holy. Sometimes it makes us insanely happy too. Sometimes, sandwiched hard between the reality of those two rubs the friction of pruning and purification. Not always easy, not always fun. But I’m smiling because marriage can make us both holier and ever so happy.
Daniel, I love you. For your courage and strength in the face of exhaustion. For choosing to walk by faith and not by sight. For teaching our children in shoe leather what it means to walk in integrity.
And for loving me, with all my flaws.
You will always be my forever.
Happy birthday to my best friend and my hero, the one I want to be with forever and ever and a day.