A few days ago Melissa started digging up some old emails we exchanged while we were dating. Thanks to Gmail we can do this sort of thing, going back to May 2006. I don’t remember the context. From what I gather we had been in some sort of argument. Melissa thinks it’s funny I included the editorial “p.s.” . . .
I am so sorry for being a punk lately. I know I have been a “nagging, contemptuous” woman. I know I need to learn to trust God in every area of my life instead of picking and choosing what I want to trust Him with. . . . I am thankful I have a boyfriend who is Christ-centered and prays to live for none other than God’s glory. I have been praying for you.
Your sweet, loving, adorable girlfriend (as of right now;) j/k, i hope
Hey sweetheart. I just pray that God will continue to grow us closer to Him, and closer to one another. I think it would be great for us to be spent for the gospel together.
In Christ alone is our all,
p.s. it is “contentious” :) you are wonderful
The 2006 World Series was great. It was the first time in my life that I got to see the Cardinals win, and it happened to be simultaneous to Melissa and I moving closer to engagement. I had the ring, just waiting for the perfect timing.
I proposed the day after the Cardinals won the Series…
Five years later we get to celebrate their championship with three more little Cardinals.
The St. Louis Cardinals squeezed into the playoffs with an amazing finish to the regular season. We’re pretty excited about it here at the house. And I can’t help but reminisce the 2006 season when we claimed the World Series for the first time since ’82.
The World Series was just the icing on the cake to that great October of 2006. My heart had already purposed a proposal to Melissa. We cheered on the Cardinals together. I organized my entire schedule around their games, studying early and finishing homework in record speed. Since my friends and I didn’t have a TV in our apartment Melissa and I had to plan dates out to watch the games. It was a bliss of baseball and love. I popped the question the day after the Cardinals won. She said yes.
Melissa, I love you. I’m looking forward to this postseason, and many more. Go Cards!
I thought that when I saw Melissa on our wedding day that my categories for beauty were maxed out. “This is it. Wow.”
And three years later I am surrounded by eyes like this. And smiles that put a frog in my throat. Elizabeth and Hannah have not surpassed Melissa’s beauty—they’ve actually amplified it. A white dress and a big cake and heavenly violin music in the background pales in comparison to Melissa as Mom. She only becomes more lovely.
I had this thought just upon the brink of a 20 minute nap leading to a 5+ hour smorgasbord of memorizing Hebrew paradigms. I had not seen Melissa for most of the day between class and work. I was missing her. And that’s when the thought–a sketch of some alternative reality–waved to me from a distance. What if Melissa and I didn’t know one another and we had recently met for the first time?
We’re for sure to be married in this alternative reality but our paths do not cross until Jonathan and Melissa meet in their mid-twenties. Interesting. So I imagined us with all of the same friends we have now: at parties, sitting around a fire, laughing, talking, etc. And that’s when it occurred to me how absolutely in love I would be for that girl.
I pictured her talking and carrying on with her friends and I was captivated by her beauty. I would be nervous to talk to her. I would be really excited when our conversations went well. And I’d be devastated when I felt like I said something stupid in front of her.
This may be an alternative reality where we are not yet married, but I cannot conceive of a reality in which her and I would be disconnected. That kind of thought is impossible for me. Our relation to one another is such that I cannot imagine a world without her. That world does not exist and I cannot even contemplate the fact of its nonexistence.
I think this means that I love her very much. It was a significant moment for me where I think I understood more of what it means to be a husband–to be her husband. Dear God, thank you that I am her husband. And that she is my wife.
Melissa, I love you.
This is the second part of the post, Beyond Mystery to Miracle: Marriage and the Scope of the Husband’s Output.
The Purpose of Marriage’s Sweet Onset (that is, why you got into this thing)
Here is a paradigm shifter. It is nothing profound but its recognition changes everything: I did not marry Melissa because I thought that she would make an excellent wife, I married her because I love her. And it is in loving her that I see how excellent she is.
I was not a wife recruiter. I didn’t send out any surveys. I didn’t even have an elaborate list of premeditated expectations. Whatever subtle, cookie-cutter criterion that I may have had — she exploded the mold. We met and we came to love one another. Therefore, we got married. I loved her, consequently, I married her. It was absolutely the most rational, sensible question that I’ve ever asked (and she said yes).
It was love. Love does not diminish if its real. It can only deepen. Three years into this I can testify to that. Marital frustrations must soon give way to the real reason why I’m here. Marriage is not a series of movie scenes adorned with romantic background music. I love my wife. I mean, I love my wife with a passion that would make Nicholas Sparks blush. It is a miracle. It is a mystery and it finds its meaning in a greater story. Now there’s the music.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31-32)
If Paul calls it a mystery then I think I am safe to call it miraculous… or at least I’ll call the v. 25 part miraculous. Marriage is profound. The apostolic command to the husband is even more staggering.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…
Pull an all-night study cram for that one and let me know how it goes. Husbands have been given a difficult task. Notice two implications: the scope of marital output and the purpose of marriage onset.
The Scope of Marital Output
Ephesians 5:25 love means that your love knows no end, your giving has no cap, and your service never expires. You cannot stay a wuss and stay a husband. How much whining do you think you can get away with? A verse reference — Eph. 5:25 — is an ample touché. The husband is commanded to be an incessant giver of the rarest resource. Love, then love, and then when it is really hard, love. If Paul means what he says then there is no point that the husband comes to when he says “that’s enough.” I am glad Jesus never said that to me.
It is in the moment of marital difficulty, brother, that we soak in our union with Christ and long for his gospel to overcome us. We can only love and love deeper still when the truth of his cross and resurrection has overwhelmed us and is overwhelming deeper still. It is that moment of feeling exhausted, when we’ve reached our mortal limit, that we share in the sufferings of Christ, as it were. The Lamb who was silent, the blasphemed one who was falsely accused and didn’t even open his mouth, be like him because you are in him. We are in that Lamb. We partake of his nature. We were baptized into his death and walk now in the newness of his life.
Breathe deeply at that point. Inhale the blood-bought grace that is your only shot. Receive that miracle. Close your eyes and dive off of that cliff into the ocean of love that would be dry if it were of ink and there was parchment in the sky. Affirm with gladness that your love is limitless. Be a cheerful giver of the rarest resource because you know that the one who produces it never tires of giving from his immeasurable riches…
One of Elizabeth’s favorite places to hang out is my study.
(which is cool, most of the time.)
Whether you wait to build a family after school or during school is a decision that each couple has to make on their own, before and unto God. But if someone is in the “take-in-info-from-both-sides” stage, then consider this to be my endorsement of being a Dad and a student at the same time.
There is something sweet about a two-year old scooting up next to you while you’re trying to read God Crucified, especially after having just read Do You Want A Friend?
I, Jonathan, take you Melissa to be my wife, before God who brought us together; to love and cherish you even as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her, to lead you and share all of life’s experiences with you by following God, that through His grace, Melissa, we might grow together into the likeness of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
I said these words to you three years ago today.
I mean them all over again right now.
I love you,