As of today, I have been married to John for 50 years. On my anniversary each year, someone inevitably asks me what gift my husband gave me. I usually respond “out to eat at a nice restaurant.” In other words, John is not a highly creative gift giver. Not complaining, just stating the fact. However, this year he swung the gift mallet and solidly struck the big gong atop the pole—so strongly, in fact, that its sound continued to reverberate for 48 hours (to be explained). I’m still hearing it. The funny thing was that he didn’t even realize he was giving me the best and most creative anniversary gift I could ever have asked for or even imagined. (If you really want to appreciate the significance of his gift and haven’t already done so, read my blog post #14 which tells you a little about our marriage path.)
So what was the best gift ever?
On a mostly-male discussion forum where my husband recently began to participate, I was being personally maligned, and my newest book on woman’s biblical freedom was being sorely misrepresented by some of the complementarian men posters. (This is similar to what happened to me when I published my first book in 2005.) John, who also was being maligned—as a hen-pecked, wife-controlled husband—responded. After his post, the forum moderator closed the thread for 48 hours, announcing something to the effect that he wanted the male forum participants to let John’s words marinate in their brains for awhile (hence, the previously mentioned reverberation).
By the time I finished reading what John wrote, I was in tears. I immediately took his public declaration as my best ever wedding anniversary gift:
So on this our 50th, my anniversary gift to you, dear John, is acknowledging publicly in front of many friends (old and new and yet to be), my awareness of, and gratitude for, your love for Christ and your lifelong determination to learn to walk in obedience to Him. Thank you for the innumerable times you’ve said, “I’m sorry,” and for the many times you have chosen to lay down yourself for my benefit. Over these 50 years, I have been privileged to watch God transform you into an amazing, godly man, one whom I deeply respect. Thank you for the beautiful words that you wrote, which certainly seem to be more than I deserve.
May each young woman who reads what you wrote in your best-gift-ever be encouraged to fearlessly stay on the pathway of freedom in Christ and always put Jesus (not anyone else, not even her husband) in the first place in her heart (Col. 1:18)—for He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (yes, even in marriage).
To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.