I decided to marry Cheryl on my 24th birthday.
That's not the day I proposed to her. It's the day during graduate school when she delivered a complete breakfast to my door at 6 a.m. Cheryl has always been something of an untamed spirit when it comes to engineering surprises. That morning she and her roommate carried, up a full flight of stairs, a metal serving cart arrayed with orange juice, fresh strawberries and assorted pastries.
I hated the very idea of mornings, so when I heard that knock at the door I nearly told whoever it was to go away. But I got up, threw something on and opened the door to see that beautiful breakfast—and with it a beautiful woman smiling at me. "Happy birthday," she said, handing over breakfast and disappearing down the hall.
That's when I knew I wanted to marry this woman who could make others feel so loved.
A Gift from God's Heart to Mine
That was nearly 20 years ago. That morning I caught the idea that God was up to something special, but it took me years to grasp the full reality of what he was giving me. (This reminds me of Dave Barry's explanation of guys and relationships. Guys are like an ant on top of a truck tire. We know there's something big here, but we don't know what it is. Even as the tire starts to roll and we're about to be crushed we're still thinking, "Huh?")
Two decades later, now I know: God was giving me a gift—straight from his heart to mine. As Proverbs puts it, "Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord" (19:14). That last phrase has captured my imagination—my wife is from the Lord. Cheryl's a unique present God gave me to be my lifelong companion, lover and co-heir of salvation.
Like all true and worthwhile gifts, my wife continues to bless my life. Don't get me wrong. I rarely get breakfast served in bed now, not even on my birthday. But there are explanations for that—five in all, with a sixth on the way. Just keeping them safe and well-fed, and preventing them from appearing on "World's Scariest Police Chases," takes up most of our time and energy. The sheer effort of living leaves us with little time and energy to spend time together, much less time for orchestrating romantic surprises.
Resisting the Pull toward Chaos
It seems to be a natural law—like gravity—that all relationships will decay from a state of health and organization to one of chaos unless there's a stronger contravening force in the marriage. In other words, there's always a temptation to underappreciate and even scorn that spouse we once welcomed as one of God's best gifts.