Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Letter to My Wife After Four Years of Seminary

Dear Arryn,

Five years ago when we were convinced of God’s call you agreed gladly and willingly to move to Jackson. You packed up all of your possessions. You packed up your children. You said goodbye to countless friends. You said goodbye to stability. You said goodbye to smooth roads (literally and metaphorically). You said goodbye to good customer service, to cool crisp breezy weather, and a nice big quiet front yard with birds chirping outside the window. You said goodbye to a cozy hometown where you could walk a block over to go to the bakery or a restaurant and a neighborhood where you felt you could walk around with your kids whenever you wanted. You said goodbye to clean air and water. You said goodbye to living near family. You said goodbye to a loving church family. You said goodbye to familiarity.

In a word, to pursue God’s call on our lives, you said goodbye to your life as you knew it. You died to yourself. Aside from Christ himself, you are the greatest model of dying to yourself that I’ve ever seen, and you do it over and over on a daily basis. I see you up close, and with a lot of people when you see them up close your admiration diminishes. I feel the exact opposite about you. The more I know you, the more I see your life, the more I observe you day in and day out, the greater my esteem for you becomes. To me, you are a hero.

For me, seminary has been a dream. Something I hoped about, fantasized about, dreamed about, for nearly 17 years. Two years after God planted this calling and desire in my heart I met you. It took 11 years together for us to get to a place where, as a family we were ready to move to Jackson for this. These last four years, with a couple of painful and difficult exceptions, have been everything I hoped seminary would be. God has used this time to prepare me, I believe, to pursue the call that I’ve sensed since I was just a 17 year old kid. In a word, seminary could not have been a better experience for me. I saw so much, learned so much, grew so much, and developed so much.

However, every day while I’ve been in class learning…every day when I’ve gotten to meet some theological hero…every day when I’ve been able to study and grow and work and write…you have been dying to yourself.

And your daily dying never stops. Whether it’s working multiple part-time jobs (taking up huge chunks of your week)…whether it’s homeschooling children who do NOT want to learn…whether it’s preparing a healthy meal for your family at the end of a long day when you’ve already been working at the clothes closet…whether it’s giving up your Saturday mornings every week so that you can clean Phil and Ginger’s house…whether it’s taking care of a whiny husband who can’t even handle a little cold…whether it’s the two years you spent on the WIM cabinet…whether it’s trying to corral four children in a little church with no nursery or anyone to help you keep them in line (all so that I can preach)…whether it’s driving a horribly crummy car that doesn’t even have a working driver’s side door lock or properly working rear door…whether it’s getting up at night with little ones who have nightmares because you know if it was me I’d never be able to get back to sleep…whether it’s the numerous challenges that every Christian faces, like living daily before the face of God and spending time with him…

You have died to yourself for the sake of me, for the sake of our children, for the sake of the Lord’s call on our family and on our lives. You have a level of honesty and integrity that I hope to aspire to. In a matter of days I will be receiving my Master of Divinity degree, and we will prepare to go to the church where God would have us serve. But you deserve an award that is more prestigious, more honorable, and that conveys my gratitude.

I believe that without exaggeration it can be said of you: “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”

With all my Love,