I’ve been blogging about people I’ve gotten to work with over the years. If anything, I hope it’s clear that relationships are important. Life is meaningful because of the relationships we have.
This series was intended to honor four men who had a transition last year. But as I wrote it I remembered so many more people who have had a similar impact through the years, men and women who are friends and colleagues to this day.
But there is no more suitable partner for life and calling God has than my wife, Carla. As we celebrate our 6th anniversary today, I can’t help but reflect on the miracle that we’ve lasted this long. We are very obviously different:
- She grew up performing on TV. Before meeting her, the closest I came to being on TV was one of those man-on-the-street commercials. A popular fruit company was interviewing students. In my excitement I used the name of their competitor. Never aired.
- I grew up basically a good kid, generally speaking, though still needing salvation. She had a wildly sinful season of her life that eventually brought her to Jesus.
- Though we both have loving parents and siblings, our family cultures and practices are extremely different.
But our differences go much deeper than that. What most people don’t know is…
- I’m the more sociable partner. If we run into someone we know, I’ll go out of my way to say hi. In classic introvert style, Carla will take greater lengths to avoid small talk.
- She’s the more industrious partner. We both love working hard, but I haven’t seen anyone go as consistently as her. She can push herself to extreme levels of commitment – borne from 24 years of being a professional. I love working with her on our home and family.
- I’m the more romantic partner – the one who’ll insist on dates or come up with a unique ice breaker. I know better than to do something like rose petals or candles. She’d just wonder how much they cost. Carla is extremely practical, which is excellent for managing our home.
- I’m also more sentimental, unless it’s a really deep emotion for her. Last week, while celebrating our anniversary, I suggested we go back to the coffee shop where we had our first date and take a picture there. Her mouth said, “Sure, we could.” But her face said, “That’s a waste of time.” We didn’t go.
- She’s the more emotional parent. Two days after Philip was born she was already getting teary about missing him 18 years later. While I couldn’t wait to move him to his own room. (Something that hasn’t happened yet.)
- She’s more thrifty than me in most areas. When she says she wants to go shopping, what she means is she wants to walk around the mall for hours, fitting everything, and most likely not buying a single thing. While I only shop when I need something and I buy the first one I see.
- The actress doesn’t enjoy watching movies or TV shows. They’re the surest thing to put her to sleep. It’s a rare movie that she sits through from start to finish. But she does love The Office and watched all the way to the seventh season. While I’m a movie fan and love many genres.
- She’s much more studious than me. Just last night she restated her desire for more education. While I was happy to coast through college. I once asked her, “If we were classmates, would we have gotten together?” Her reply, “We probably wouldn’t be married because your lack of study habits would have turned me off.” Thank God we met when we did!
These differences and many more could make life stressful. But she really is the best partner God could have given me. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today in terms of life or my calling if it wasn’t for this amazing woman.
Lessons I’m learning so far:
1. There’s no such thing as separation because of incompatibility. Everyone’s incompatible because of sin. But love binds them all together. So what we call incompatibility is really just a lack of love – from Pastor Steve Murrell and the Bible.
2. Differences actually make you stronger. We heard this gem two months into our marriage from Pastor Shaddy, an Egyptian pastor married to a white woman from Mississippi. (And we thought we had differences!) He said, “Different doesn’t mean wrong. In fact, different makes you strong.” That is still one of our mantras.
3. Differences don’t matter when you’re the same in the right things. Carla and I could be different in a billion things. But as long as we’re the same in the right things, that’s what matters.
Last week, as we celebrated our anniversary, we asked each other questions (that I researched) about our marriage. The questions were a safe way of asking each other how much more we could improve in our marriage, while also showing appreciation.
Instead of producing a checklist of ways we could improve, the conversation surprisingly revealed our hearts to one another – that despite the challenges of life, the times we’re irritated, selfish or insecure – we’re both really happy together.
And the secret behind it is our faith in Jesus. We both bring a ton of baggage – sins, expectations, insecurities, selfishness – that makes marriage difficult, if not impossible. But Jesus changes both of us and makes us more suitable for one another.
He’s the perfect partner. And He perfects the partners. This is what gives us the faith for six years and beyond.