Never Lovelier (at 65)
Today marks my bride’s 65th birthday. Never lovelier, she reminds me that virtue deepens and resounds with age. Time amplifies faults as well. Still, Annette makes accentuating the positive easy. So here goes…
Annette’s natural gift of mothering our children rises to full stature in her care of our children’s children. As our home has become a daycare center for grandkids, I witness constantly her effortless bearing with infants and toddlers; she provides homecooked food, curriculum, and fun breaks, all guided by a finely tuned intuition. What does that one need? Should the outburst or whine be challenged? Understood as a veiled need? Annette can tell. Natural mom.
She is decidedly pre-modern: I’ve never experienced Annette in conflict between her personal aspirations and caring for family members. She finds her most authentic self in the latter.
She possesses more intellectual curiosity than me and hones her mind each morning with the NYT crossword puzzle. Her analysis of current events, especially those spotlighting anti-life culture, is astute; we process them daily. She bears these burdens in her heart, so it helps her to get them on the table, to agree once more that Jesus is on the throne of the universe, if not in DC or one's favorite denomination. Instead of pushing her back, the drive toward identity fracturing provokes her to push harder for radical wholeness.
Annette bears a heart for the whole Church. We suffer a painful divide between my Catholicism and her Evangelicalism. Yet the tension we face, a microcosm of the deeply divided Church out there, is honest and bridged only by Jesus who helps us keep the wound clean and our love strong. Though my move to the Roman Catholic Church hurt her, she does not blame the Catholic Church for my choice. In truth, she advocates without shadow for Rome. She just wishes I wasn’t Catholic! Our divide levels us, keeps us close to Jesus, and disinclined to church bash.
Finally, Annette is shaped by a primary relationship, with me. And I her. Given the international nature of our mission from the start, which has separated us roughly 25% of the time for over 35 years, she has learned an unusual mix of personal autonomy and reliance upon me. It has not been easy for her. Grace has prevailed. Faithfulness has prevailed. We look back on over 40 years of Kingdom advance together and we see each other’s kind face in every post card. I witness Jesus in every photo, every season. For each season was dedicated to Him and experienced with each other. Amazing. One person shaped my life more than any other. Hers. At 65, never lovelier.