I have the rare privilege today of taking care of my wife, Tricia, as she recovers from flu . Doesn't happen very much. And I would be shamefully lame at this if it wasn't for her example. She has taught me everything I know about care-giving. I have watched her for 35+ years. She has become one of my heroes in this life. I mean that from my core. As I said recently, she is a Proverbs 31 woman and then some!
God has lavished someone like me with a woman of extraordinary beauty, talent and the fierce heart of a redemptive lioness. She has been a creative and dedicated mother to our 3 children. She never tired of it, even when tested to the limit. I have never seen anyone so resourceful and with such a heart for blessing her kids. It never wanes. She was and is relentless in trying to help them flourish. Now I get to watch her do the same for our two wonderful grandchildren. They are very blessed to have her for a "Geema."
I have always been a bit in awe of her tireless ability to work whether she was passionate about what she was doing or the task was understood to be part of her duty. Truth be told, she can work me into the ground, and has. And yet, she holds no pride about it. She just does what has to be done, and because she is wired by God to excel she always strives to do it beyond well.
Her relationship with Jesus pre-dated mine, and she is one of those people who has a sustained an abiding affection for him. She really loves and trusts him at the deepest places of her heart. I have known only a handful of people with the depth of her love for God. It has been that way since the beginning of her relationship with him, and I have never seen it fade. Her living faith has given me not only an example, but the freedom to seek such a relationship with him over the years. I have not been able to get there consistently, but at times, I have known what she lives.
Perhaps the most captivating gift she has given me over the years has been her willingness to walk beside me when we have had to go through the Valley of Tears (there have been many of those experiences), when I have chased after windmills and led us down rabbit trails (lot's of those too),, or when I have been unwilling to lead the way in situations where I was afraid. She never left my side. She never stopped gently calling out the man in me. She was willing to say hard things to me. She told the truth and loved me nevertheless.
I see now that Tricia is one of the most loyal people I have ever known. She exhibits it with actions more than words however unassuming. She never quits trying to help, trying to lighten the load or encourage, or step in to carry the burden when others couldn't or wouldn't. I have seen her do this over and over with: me, her parents, our kids, teammates, and the friends she has loved. I have also seen it with the many people she has counseled and led to healing and freedom, some so abused and broken that it took years to get there. It has been remarkable to me.
To my joy, she has taught me repeatedly about beauty given as a gift whether it be through a gourmet meal that took 3 days to prepare, a stunningly beautiful table to serve it, or a drab and tired looking retreat center transformed over a few years into a remarkable place of healing and listening and peace in the midst of gardens and flowers and art. To her, it has been how she best loves others: through beauty, graciousness and extra effort. She taught me that making the extra effort to create beauty and quality is alway worth it.
So Tricia is a hero to me because of her heart lived out. Her courage and forthrightness has chastened me. Her authenticity has been a quiet standard for me. Her passion for Jesus, for those she loves, and for life itself has enticed my passion and given it credibility. My love for her only grows as we head into the last quarter of our race home together.
Point of fact, God's unexpected love for me was so far beyond what I could imagine on the night of my conversion, when alone in a VW bug on I-84 heading back from Farmington, CT to Boston in 1972, I told him that if he would give me Tricia, I would give him, me and he said quietly, "Done." has felt more and more like the defining moment in my life. I became his--a mystery whose fullness is yet to be revealed--and received a blessing in Tricia beyond anything I had ever experienced.
To be honest, I have to say what I have been able to give him in me pales in comparison to what he gave me that night and everyday since in her. I have been given a beautiful, living pearl. I am truly a blessed and rich man.