It was about 17 years ago when I first noticed the man I have now been married to for almost 15 years. We were at a Christian collegiate organization's small group function, and playing a get-to-know-each-other game. I don't remember much about it except that each person had to share something he would NEVER do in his lifetime, and one thing that he'd love to do in his lifetime.
As my turn was approaching, my mind raced with all the things I feared and would never be willing to do (um...pretty much anything that involves flying or bouncing in the air with a harness on!) I anxiously awaited my opportunity to sound like a sissy when Troy's turn came up. I hardly knew him, and had not really noticed him until that night. He was one of those that hid from the limelight, so I'd spent much of my early months at a new University noticing and being noticed by more social and charismatic young men.
But that night changed everything. While each in the group had shared funny and quirky fears, Troy said this when it came his turn: "I'll never...I pray I'll never...deny the name of Christ." I still remember it word for word. Everyone nodded and acknowledged his contribution, some passing it off as too serious and over-thinking the question. But for me, his answer was the answer I'd been looking for.
I have, for years, shared about the things I love about my husband on his birthday--the number of characteristics corresponding with his age. This year, instead of coming up with 40 different quirks/character traits/oddities, I have reflected on just one. I've thought long and hard about what one thing I find most unique and special about him, and this is it: He does not give up.
I can't is not in his vocabulary--and it's not because he is overly confident. He isn't. He would describe himself as a youth as shy and fearful; lacking confidence and lacking focus. But, as an adult--a sinner saved by Grace--Troy has proven to be diligent, persistent, incredibly disciplined, and unyielding in the face of challenges...
- A wife with expectations and needs? ...Always met with "I'll try." or "I can do better."
- Hurts and challenges within relationships? ..."I can forgive." or "Seventy times seven."
- Personal crisis in work and responsibilities? ..."I'll press on until He shows me otherwise."
- Physical weakness or demands on the body? ..."But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." (1 Corinthians 9:27)
- Lacking know-how or uncharted territory? ..."You won't know until you try."
I simply cannot remember a time he's ever really said, "I can't."
Perhaps this is the most endearing quality that comes to mind this year as I honor his 40th birthday because I feel sometimes that I can be such a quitter. I so easily succumb to my emotions, I so often evade discomfort or difficulty...I so regularly say the words, "I can't" or "I quit."
And, so...the Lord saw fit to match me with a man who doesn't. A man who never shirks responsibility, never backs down from discomfort, never gives in, never gives up, never says never...unless standing with Christ is at stake.
I am behind on absolutely everything right now on account of attempting to finish our kitchen remodel by this past weekend, in time for Troy's 40th birthday celebration. We had a wonderful celebration, but we didn't quite make the deadline...the renovation work continues! I have bills unpaid, phone calls unreturned, laundry not put away, blog posts unwritten, comments and messages not responded to...
...but I am catching up on one thing today: While his birthday has now come and gone, I will not pass up the opportunity to reflect on marriage and my husband in honor of his birthday. I am so thankful for Troy. His strengths and admirable qualities have been etched through the sanctifying highs and lows of the last 40 years of his life.He would say he has so far to go; I would say that he has come this far with great honor to Christ and to His redeeming power.
And to the man who has said "I'll never" only once in my recollection...Happy Birthday, Love. Thank you for not giving up on me, for walking with me through the wonderful mountaintops and the lowest trenches of marriage and life. I celebrate you, and am so thankful for your life.