Happy Valentines Day Sweetheart

On the 17th of December, our family home was burned to the ground.

For the last 2 months, our family of 6 has been shuttling between hotels and generally just trying to figure out the steps to move forward.

We have run the gamut of emotions and are moving into a season of change and new possibilities.

For the last week as I was walking through malls and stores trying to think of things that I could do/buy to express my love for my wife on valentines day I realized that nothing seemed to jump out at me for her. So I thought I would try something different. This year I am writing this blog post as a big “permanent” out there proclamation of love for the most amazing women that I know.

The Backstory

We met each other when we were in grade 9, and one of the first things she ever said to me was, “Are you saved, do you know Jesus!” As you can imagine those words took me by a surprise. Over the years we hung out more and more, and ultimately she was the one who lead me into a personal relationship with Jesus. Bar none, the greatest thing anyone could have ever done for me.

After a couple of failed attempts to move out of the “friend zone” we made the transition on a seemingly ordinary night with a kiss that to this day I can only describe as magical.

As a friend I was amazing, as a boyfriend I was a bit of a dud. I, unfortunately, had not developed the strength to stand strong for an ‘us’ in the midst of pressure from good friends(Border Bullies as I would later read about in a book called The Dream Giver) This put a significant amount of strain on our relationship in what should have been one of our most fun years of high school.

I married my high school sweetheart only months after graduation. How mature was I? Well let’s put it this way, I used our wedding gift money to buy a nintendo 64 video game system. Yep, I was quite the catch.

Enter The Workaholic

My amazing wife worked so that I could go back to school and make something of myself, all the while being there to raise our first son , also pregnant with our second…who was born just after I graduated.

I had been a bit of a ghost during the school years, mostly tunnel visioned on building top tier skills. We both assumed that, of course, after graduating things would be different. This was just a necessary season to transition into another one where I would be more focused on our marriage and our growing family. After all, with a high tech job and good salary, there would be no reason for me to maintain my tunnel vision… right?

Well let’s just say that my tunnel vision with respect to growing mad ninja coding skills paid off huge in the work department; unfortunately I had developed an incredibly unhealthy attitude toward work-life balance. I had none and I was oblivious to it.

I’d love to say that the title of workaholic was not one that could ever have been attributed to me. I’d love to say that as God blessed us with our 3rd and 4th kids that I snapped out of my workaholic mode of operation. I’d love to say that as a guy who “supposedly” put Jesus at the center of his life that I was growing into a man that placed his family at the top of his list of priorities. I’d love to say that I was growing more and more into a husband who could be a blessing to the amazing wife and children I was blessed with.

In my mind; for 10 years I convinced myself that I was all the things that I had previously mentioned. I allowed myself to get into a place where my wifes repeated concerns about my absenteeism were seeming incorrect. I was providing a good life for my family, this is just the way things are done. I’m not really that busy.

The Workaholic Has His Eyes Opened

June 2008, the moment the scales fell off my eyes. In a conversation with my wife that started off seemingly simple, with statements that I had heard her express many times over the previous years, she started crying. In that moment I became vividly self aware of several things.

  1. There is no way that Jesus is actually the center of my life right now
  2. I have been lying to myself about who I really am for the last 11 years.
  3. I have been a terrible husband
  4. I have been a terrible father

Feeling the full weight of any one of these realizations would be enough, but for the first time in our 11 year marriage (at that point), to be feeling the weight of all of those realizations at once was huge. I remember expressing to her in that moment words that I had said many times before over the previous years:

  • I’m going to change
  • Things are going to be different from now on
  • I’m sorry that I have not been there for you and the kids as much as I should be

By now you are probably thinking to yourself “wait, isn’t this supposed to be a romantic love story”; followed up close by “his wife has amazing patience, or she is a sucker for punishment”. To that last statement let me just share an amazing verse from the bible:

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honour her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31:10-31 Bible

Amazing things happen when you let jesus take center stage

  • I’m going to change
  • Things are going to be different from now on
  • I’m sorry that I have not been there for you and the kids as much as I should be

I was quickly realizing that the above words did not have any meaning to her anymore, as she had heard them hundreds of times before with no visible changes to my behaviour. In that moment I knew that God was giving me another chance to become the husband and father that I should have been our entire marriage. Even though I did not deserve it, God gave me a vision for what I needed to do. I expressed to my wife that I was not going to say these things anymore, that she would have to wait and see the changes. Over the course of the next 3 weeks we made some pretty radical decisions that were going to change the trajectory of our family in ways that, at the time, we could not comprehend. I’ll save the details of that story for another time.

The net result of these decisions resulted in our family of 6 (our youngest was just 3 years old at the time) travelling the world together for the next year. I took on work as I needed to, the whole while praying for healing and restoration to take place in my marriage and family. We had rented out our house and were jumping from location to location waiting patiently for God to reveal to us where we should “stop”. Most importantly, during this time, I was finally placing Jesus at the center stage of my heart; which ultimately impacted everything that I did. Even though I had accepted Jesus as a teenager I was painfully aware that it had really been me calling the shots for a long time.

Even with rough beginnings, you can have your fairytale

Thankfully, this story is far from over and is currently on an amazingly different course than its first 11 years!. They say that we marry the person that helps us close the gaps in ourself that we can’t see. Through amazing Godly love, and lots of patience, our marriage is now amazing, and vibrant. In many ways, the last 6 years have been what our “newlywed” period should have been. The workaholic in me died on that day back in June 2008, when I finally put Jesus at the center of my heart. I can say with 100% confidence that my words and actions as a husband and father reflect who I envisioned myself to be when I thought about how a godly man should be. And the only reason I can share this now “online” with the world is I know that my wife, kids, friends, and family will all be reading this. I could not even think to post this if it did not reflect what they and I see before me in my family and marriage of today. At 35 years old and with 17 years of marriage under my belt, it would be easy to say that I am a veteran. Much like in the world of work though, number of years does not mean anything. It’s the quality of those years that matters. Using that metric, I’m a lightweight at 6 quality years. I am also a vividly different person than I was during the first 11 years of our marriage. A fact to which both my wife and kids would shout out loudly!!

A proclamation of love to my wife

Honey, you are an amazing godly women. I could not have envisioned in a million years that God would see fit to bless me with such a beautiful and caring person. Your patience is amazing, your love and encouragement is a constant source of strength for me. Your love and care for our children and the huge number of their friends who entered our home on a daily basis is/was a constant humbling and amazing thing to witness. You are stunningly beautiful, athletic, and just plain amazing fun. Thank you so much for agreeing to take my hand and walk down this amazing road of life with me. Thank you for your enduring patience as you waited for me to become the man that God must have revealed to you that I would become. Thank you for daily teaching and modeling to our kids and I what it means to love others as Jesus does, and to accept and welcome anyone who crosses our path.

I know the next year looks like it will be a little bit of a roller coaster. Our house may have burned to the ground along with 17 years of pictures, baby books, and memorabilia that can’t be replaced. I know that together we are going to carve out another set of amazing memories as we walk hand in hand together down whatever paths God puts in front of us.

On this valentines day, know that you are loved more than these “permanent” words can ever express.

I love you yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever.

Develop With Passion®