Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beauty That Lasts

I have seen marriages that run the gamut this week.  On one extreme, I listened to a beautiful woman tell me that her husband no longer wanted her.  I first thought, "This guy is an idiot."

Today, I spent nearly 2 hours with a man at the side of a hospital bed where his wife lay.  She only weighs 80 pounds now.  I was able to wake her long enough to have about a three minute conversation with her.  She will soon be going home to Jesus.  If by some miracle, she were able to live another five months, this couple will be able to celebrate their 59th anniversary.  When he first saw her nearly 61 years ago, he knew instantly that this was the woman he wanted to marry.  And the first time she saw him, she had the same feeling about him.  You do not hear about too many "love at first sight" relationships -- especially ones that last nearly six decades.  But this one has.  The husband showed me pictures of his wife from sixty years ago.  He spoke of how beautiful she was then.  But the remarkable thing is that to him she is still just as beautiful even now -- at age 82.

I have to agree with him.  This godly woman taught several of my children in Sunday school.  In fact, she taught hundreds of young children during her thirty-eight years as a Sunday school teacher.  There is no telling how many children came to know Jesus Christ because of this dear woman.  I have always known her to be grateful, loving, concerned for others, having a good sense of humor, and consumed with love for her husband.  She saw him off to work every morning at the front door.  She would raise the garage door every night at just the moment when her husband got home.  This man was blessed to have a wife that loved him so deeply and consistently.

This last year I had the opportunity of seeing some people at a meeting that I had not seen for twenty or twenty-five years.  It was amazing how old they had all become!  Actually, the reality is that time (and children) takes its toll on our figures, our hairline, our hair color, our skin, and our energy levels.

My wife and I both would like to lose some weight this year.  My hair has all turned gray or silver.  That actually does not bother me.  What bothers me is how wavy my hair has become -- it just waves goodbye every time I wash it or brush it!  Someday soon my head will resemble heaven -- a bright and shining place with no parting there!

Whenever I see pictures of my wife from thirty years ago, I am still stunned that anyone so beautiful would even give me the time of day.  And she is still beautiful to me and to others.  I think that marriage must have been kinder to her than it was to me...

I wonder sometimes what she will look like to me when she is sixty or seventy or eighty.  However, after my visit today I am quite confident that she will be as beautiful as ever -- even thirty years from now.  Our world has taught us to focus on the outward physical aspects.  We are told to buy the right cosmetics, have Botox injections, give in to plastic surgery, buy the latest fitness machine, and take a vast array of vitamins, minerals, and herbs -- just to remain good-looking.  But sooner or later time catches up with all of us.  So how do you keep looking at your spouse and admiring her, when there are younger, beautiful women in every direction?

Learn to thank God for your sweet wife.  When I look at my bride, here are some of the things that I remember:
  • God picked out Judy for me and made it plain to me that she was His will for my life.  He went to great extremes to prove to me that I was to marry this woman.  In fact, I knew I was supposed to marry her before I was even sure that I liked her.  So Judy is beautiful because she is God's will for my life and His greatest present -- other than Jesus Christ -- to me.  Even if you do not share a similar experience, it is God's will for you to stay married to the woman who is now your wife.
  • Judy completes me in a way no other woman could.  She understands how I think and complements my weaknesses with her strengths.  I could be happy staying in my office with my books and computer.  But she is a people person.  I tend to hold onto things tightly.  She is a giver.  I thank God for a wife who truly is my help-meet and completes me so perfectly.
  • Judy is my best friend.  She knows me better than anyone else on the planet -- yet she stubbornly continues to love me anyway.  She knows my weaknesses, she has put up with my failures, she has borne the brunt of my frustrations and hurts -- but she still would rather be with me than anyone else.  When I travel, I hate to eat out at a restaurant because my best friend is not there to talk with me.  When I return home, I am always glad to see the children -- but I am desperate to have my wife to myself.  I can tell her anything and she still loves me.
  • Judy is an amazing mother.  I grew up with an amazing mother -- a single mom that made ends meet, gave me opportunities, invested her life in me, and overcame every hardship that came her way.  So I know an amazing mother when I see one.  But Judy blows me away.  She loves her children so much and has a heart so big that she could love another twenty children and make every one of them feel like they were special.  Judy makes do with a small grocery budget and a large family.  She finds beautiful clothes and outfits for her and the children to wear but spends very little money on these things.
  • Judy has forgiven me more times than I can count.  She wisely appeals my bad decisions but also recognizes God's authority structure in the home.
  • Unlike most women, she does not worry.  Whenever there is a crisis or need facing our family, she just expresses her confidence that God and her husband will work everything out.
  • Judy desires truth and accuracy and openness about everything.  She will not tolerate hypocrisy.
I am grateful that my wife is still such a physically attractive woman.  But I have grown to appreciate far more about her.  She is the most intelligent, talented, caring, and forgiving woman that I have ever known.  God does indeed give the best  to those who leave the choices to Him.

Men, I challenge you to sit down and make a list of all the things in your wife's character and actions that you appreciate -- that are beautiful to you.  Then sit down across the table from her, hold both her hands, look into her eyes, and share your list with her.  Let her know why she is still gorgeous.  Keep this list where you can find it.  Look at it often, and review it.  And spend some portion of every day thanking God for the special woman who puts up with you.  As you do so, her beauty will grow in your eyes every day.

May we all reach the day when we will have been married sixty years and still speak of our wife's beauty and preciousness.  May we all truly come to appreciate the beauty that comes from within -- the beauty that lasts.

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