“If you want to keep your family together you better get some help.” Those words were spoken to me by my wife, Shawna, eight and a half years ago. You see, I had messed up. Royally. I was losing my battle with alcoholism and decided it was time to let her know everything. So I packed a bag, sat her down, told her all the terrible details, and watched as she surprised me: she left.
But the next morning she came back.
A year and a half later, she found out that I was still losing that same battle, only now it resulted in me losing my job as a minister. Her response was to call some married friends who had been through the same struggle and ask if we could spend a few days with them. Those friends said yes, and we started (again) on a long road to recovery.
Several years, three states, and a couple of jobs later, we made the decision to move back to Abilene, TX, so I could enroll in graduate school. She now works to help pay for my tuition. And the bills. And the food. And the benefits. Have I mentioned our three children yet? Or that she is continuing her education as well?
She has embodied grace in our relationship as husband and wife; but it goes even farther than that. She does not know her biological father and she has a strained relationship with her mother. Yet she has become like a mother to the young girls and women of every congregation we have been a part of. She reaches out with motherly love and guidance to the young people she works with; many of whom have strained relationships in their own families of origin.
She was not raised with any sense of spirituality or religion, yet now her life is guided by prayer and an intense desire to do what is right. She loves God and strives to make decisions that are in step with His will for her life. She loves others and truly wishes to bless them in any way she can. She prays for people, talks with people, teaches people, and provides food and other material blessings for people in need.
She does not always have it easy. She struggles at times to be content or at peace; yet during those times of struggle she seeks counsel from those who are willing to listen. She has a drive to learn more about herself and how she can continually improve in her service to God and others. She pours her heart out in worship and in fellowship as she yearns to become the Godly woman she knows she was called to be.
I am who I am and where I am today because of my wife and her love, grace, support, strength, and excellence. Our children are turning into young people who love God and serve others because of the example their mother has set for them. I am in awe of her because of the journey she has traveled to arrive where she is.
Every day I wake up, I thank God for the woman he has blessed me with. Every day, I am reminded that our lives continue together because she was willing to come back. She was willing to exhibit the grace and love of God. She was willing to say, “I will walk with you.” I will never be able to estimate her worth because it is beyond my ability to comprehend. Yet I will continue to thank God every day for blessing me with a most excellent partner, wife, and friend.