My husband had a birthday not too long ago ... no, I won't say exactly when. He's a little on the paranoid side when it comes to privacy, and birthdays are used as personal identifiers, so he'd just as soon me not say exactly when it was on this, a public blog. But anyway, it was recent, and I wanted to take the occasion of his birthday to write a post about him ... but I couldn't publish it on his birthday; that would have given it away! But I can publish it now.
What can I say about my husband? He is the man God created for me, and the man for whom God created me. We are symbiotic. We both have been on our own in the past. We both prefer being together. In our household, his work outside of the home provides the income we need to sustain the home; my work inside the home transforms the house--or in this case, apartment--into a home. Our work together--on our relationship--makes us a family.
I met my husband in the fall of 1994, when I first started attending a public boarding school in my home state. No, it wasn't a disciplinary school; it was for students who weren't being challenged enough in their home high schools. Jeff was a year ahead of me, and our social circles overlapped but did not really include one another at that time. He actually dated one of my roommates that first year. But he had my attention, even though I never thought we'd actually end up together.
Jeff caught my eye very early on in the school year. I'd been at school for just a few weeks when a controversy erupted. A group of students--if I'm remembering correctly, it was something like 8 seniors and 2 juniors--had broken the rules in a major way. They were drinking alcohol, and a lot of it. One of the juniors had been left outside the dorm, so drunk that he could have died of alcohol poisoning. The others had left him there, alone, while they scattered, hoping to avoid being caught in the fallout. After all the facts came out, most of those involved were expelled, and the others were put on probation. The entire student body was called into a meeting. The faculty, some of the administration, and the housing staff filed into the room, faces like stone. After an intense lecture, we were told that we were being left alone to discuss amongst ourselves what had happened, how it impacted the school--which could have lost its state funding over the incident, sending us all home--and how we as a student body would respond. Then all the adults filed out, and we students were alone.
After a few moments of silence, someone stood up and started talking. I was shocked--the student was defending the students who had been expelled. The next student who spoke did the same. And the next. I sat there, quietly, not believing my ears. Those people had risked the life of one of their friends by not stopping him from drinking too much and then again by not seeking help for him. Those people had brought controversy down on our school in a time of statewide budget cuts, knowing that we depended on state funding to keep our school open. I wanted to speak up, to point out what irresponsible fools those students had been, to say that they deserved to be expelled; we had an honor code, they agreed to it, and they violated it--and in the process, they put someone's life in danger! But I was a chicken. I was painfully shy at that point, new to the school, without many friends yet ... I wanted to speak, but I felt like I was frozen in my seat, without the courage to stand or the words to say even if I did stand.
But then someone else stood. And this young man was angry. Angry at the people who had jeopardized one person's life and all of our educations. Angry at the students who were defending their idiocy. He stood and he spoke of responsibility, and values, and honor. And I fell in love then and there, although I didn't realize it until much later.
Some of the students branded Jeff a traitor for siding with the faculty over the other students; a few of the students vocally defended him; many of us quietly supported him. But it was clear that whether anyone supported him, whether anyone defended him, whether anyone even listened to him, he had principles, and he would stand by those principles.
We didn't date until around 15 months later. Even then, the relationship only lasted a month. It's a long, complicated story. But from the moment when he stood to speak in that student meeting, every young man I met was compared to him. I had seen a man of courage, of honor and integrity; that was what I wanted, and that was what I got ... eventually. Maybe if I remember, I'll tell you the rest of the story next year.
Happy birthday, Jeff. I love you, and I am grateful every day that God created you, just as you are, for me.