My husband has taught me so much about God.
I’m not talking about in a Bible study, or through sermons, (though yes, on occasion, that too)…but I’m talking about his character. The way we interact. The way he loves me. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have any grand illusions that my husband is the ‘perfect man’ (darn good thing, since I’m so terribly far from being the perfect woman…so that would be a horrendous mess!)…and I don’t think that because ‘Todd’ rhymes with ‘God’ that he is the next thing to Him.
One of the reasons that we are together is because Todd became my ‘safe place’ many, many years ago. Before we ever dated or had any thoughts of romance (well…at least, before *I* had any thoughts of romance…he might have a different perspective!), we were best friends. I slowly found acceptance in our relationship…I could allow myself to just be…well…myself. I didn’t have to act a certain way, or pretend to be anything I wasn’t.
Let me tell you our story.
Todd would tell you he had ‘eyes for me’, from the first day we met, but had resigned himself to ‘just friends’, since initially I didn’t reciprocate. After a long while, and a open and honest, and occasionally tumultuous friendship, I had a revelation. I was in love with this guy…not merely attracted to, but actually loved. It hit me like a ton of bricks. And I think that I knew it was love because I had no fear of being with him. I could simply be me…the good, the bad, and the ugly…and it wasn’t too much for him. He handled it all. I was overcome with emotion at this realization.
I remember the day like it was yesterday… We had spent the morning together at a pancake breakfast, and our conversation and interaction was easy, like always. He told me about a girl he planned to ask out for a date. Somewhat surprisingly to me, it caused a severe knot in my gut to hear this. It shouldn’t have, since all through our friendship, I had dated other guys…but it did. (I know, I know…I don’t want to hear about my cruelty to him in the early days…I’ve spent the past 24 years making up for it, okay??) :)
After I dropped him off at his house, and started to drive away, I began bawling uncontrollably. My heart was pounding out of my chest, and I felt a near panicked need to tell him that he couldn’t possibly date anyone else, because…I loved him! I turned the car around and went back to his house. I’ve actually never asked my now-sister in law what she thought when I showed up at the door, tear streaked face, asking to see Todd. (I’m not sure I really want to know…and by now, I’m guessing she’s forgotten about that day, as it was probably not as impactful to her as it was to me.)
Todd came out and stared at me, a bit dumbfounded, as I sobbed out my declaration of love, right there in his parents’ driveway. It took him two days to come back to me saying that he did, in fact, want to be my boyfriend. (For someone who supposedly had wanted me all along, I’m still not sure that he didn’t do this just for kicks, enjoying knowing he had me dangling on a string!)
I tell you all that to say this…
What kind of 16 year old guy stares at a girl, in a full on ugly cry, declaring her love after seemingly rejecting his for so long, and doesn’t turn and run for the hills?
The kind that is the exact man that God knew I needed, not only to be my partner in life, but also so that I could better understand His character. I’m quite convinced that God’s intent for our marriage is very multipurposed.
From day one of my relationship with Todd, I did nothing but be “too” something. Initially I was too preoccupied. Maybe too presumptuous, maybe too coy. Too needy. I was probably too immature and too impulsive. I was certainly too emotional, too intense and just generally, all the way around…too much.
And yet, never once, in the whole 25 years of our relationship has he ever said I was too much. In fact, over the years, on more than one occasion, he’s actually had to tell me that’s it’s okay…he can handle me. Because one of my deepest fears is just that…that I’m too much. The most reassuring moments I’ve had with him are when I’m in a complete freak out of some sort, and he holds me tight and says “Jess, I can handle you.”
And not only that, the things that I think are “too”, he oftens says are the very things he loves about me. Honestly, this baffles me. It just seems crazy.
But here’s where the God part comes in.
Over the years, I’ve often felt that same “too-something” feeling in my relationship with God. I’m too worrisome. I’m too undisciplined. I’m too overbearing (you know, one of ‘those’ women…or so my annoying little inner voice tries tell me every now and again). I have too many doubts, fears, insecurities. I’m too dumb or naive or weak. I push the line a little too much. Whatever it is, I’m constantly battling the “too”.
And then I remember…Todd can handle me. And for goodness sake, if this mere mortal of a man can (and I must say, he’s done a pretty good job over the years!!)…how much more the Almighty God. Again…I’m not comparing God/Todd. But I am saying, I’m pretty convinced that God chose Todd to be my husband to give me a flesh-and-bones example of His love for me.
To remind me that I’m NOT, in fact, too-anything.
That I’m wired and designed the way God intended, and he gives me permission to ‘bring it’. There are no questions too big, no secrets too scary, no too many doubts that it makes God skittish.
No matter how many “toos” I have or am…He is more than able to take it . All of it. He can handle me without even getting winded. I’m guessing, he probably even smiles.
I think I’m starting to actually believe this, because I’ve heard a real, human voice tell me that he loves my “toos”…and if he does, surely my Maker must.
Today, I am definitely hearing the whisper of His voice to my heart…right smack in the middle of my worries, my tears, my fears and my doubts…telling me…
“I can handle you, Jess.”
What sweet relief.
But please…don’t mistake my intent in sharing all this. I’m not trying to brag, or say we have the perfect marriage. Far from it!! Like everyone else, we have our highs and lows. It can get REAL ugly around here too. In fact, this really isn’t about me or Todd or our marriage at all. This is my point…God uses people in our lives to show us about Himself. For me, it happens to be my husband. But I’m convinced, in different ways, God is revealing Himself to us through people all the time.
Who is it that you feel most comfortable with in the world? Maybe a friend, a parent, a sister, a child. Who loves you in all your ugliness? Who puts up with your annoying habits? Who watches you make a mess of things, and loves you anyway or holds you when you cry? Think of that person, and realize…the very best of them is only a glimmer of God’s love and faithfulness for you. He’s likely put that very person in your life so that you can know a taste of all His feelings for you. He wants you to experience love, but then also understand that what he offers is infinitely better. We humans are created in His image so that we can give some flesh and bones right here on earth to testify to who and how He is.
And in case you’re having trouble hearing or seeing…then take this as your personal ‘message’… You.are.loved. Just the way you are. Whether you think you’re too much, or not enough…you are accepted. God can handle you. There is no question, doubt, worry or ugly-cry that is going to scare Him off. He won’t run for the hills on you.
I promise. But more importantly…