Saturday, May 12, 2012


My plan in this alphabetically-inspired series was to write a post about the boys and man in my life when it came time for their name-letters.  But since I'm planning to cover the M with Modesty (such fun!), which will usurp my husband's name (Matt), I'm opting to write about him here, under the L.

Love.  It works too.  Love is the beginning and the end to my thoughts on Matt.

On a beach in Oregon, a few days after getting engaged.

I fell in love with Matt in Israel.  [Yes, Israel.]  We were both there as American students studying abroad, along with about 100 other remarkable people from all over the United States and a few other spots around the world.  We met in Jerusalem, where our school was, but I'm not sure if that's exactly where the "in love" came about.  I know that I started to fall in love with him in Ein Gedi, hiking through the oases near the Dead Sea.  And I know I was definitely in love by the time we went to Galilee a few weeks later.  Where it happened between those two places I can't say for sure, but it was probably Jerusalem (and that's not too shabby of a spot, you know?)

As luck would have it, Matt came to Jerusalem already in a relationship, while I was very single.  I blame those details for why it took so long for me to realize what an incredible guy he was.   But once I started to clue in, it was a quick free fall on my side into in-love-ness.  Matt was so patient.  So wise.  So compassionate and interesting and so terribly good looking!  I knew, very quickly, that he was, if not the guy I'd been looking for, exactly the kind of guy I should be looking for.  And I was more inclined to think it was the former, not the latter.

I never said a word about how I felt while we were in Israel out of respect for his relationship.  But after we got back, I got an e-mail from Matt a week or so later indicating the relationship was over.

And, maybe 48 hours later, I wrote to let him know that I was in love with him.  Because I was crazy.

Love is crazy sometimes.

As it turned out, he was in love with me, too.  And so we committed ourselves to each other, despite being 3000 miles apart, despite being precisely at the stage in life when everyone is most suspicious about such commitments working out.

We spent the next year and a half apart, completing our degrees at our respective universities.  We visited each other every 2-3 months (with one four-month period in which our physical separation, my burgeoning feminism, and mutual communication catastrophes almost ended everything).  After graduation I went off to Central Asia for the summer as part of an internship, and Matt (brave man that he is) went to my parents' home for the summer to work for my dad.

I came back from Central Asia in early August for my twin sister's wedding.  And three days later, Matt asked me to marry him with a beautiful ring and a bottle of Israeli wine in tow.

Looking back, it seems a bit crazy.  We had spent such (relatively) little time together. But love is crazy sometimes.

We got married after being engaged for 2 1/2 months, hurried along by our impending entrance into graduate school.  About a month after that we moved to Kansas City for what was one of the most difficult 1 1/2 years of my life.  Kansas City didn't agree with either one of us, and the first year of marriage is a bruiser anyways.  We had gone there on my lead, and though Matt never said he resented me for it, I resented myself.  It just plain wasn't working, and we doubted it ever would. A few friends of ours were at Regent College in Vancouver and loving it, so we looked into going there instead.  And decided, together, to go.

As I've written about before, I got pregnant with Isaac after we were already full-steam ahead in our plans to move.  Knowing I would give birth after just one semester, I expected that Matt would be the full-time student and I would postpone my studies.  But when we talked about it, Matt suggested exactly the opposite.  He would start part-time, I would start full-time, and we would see how it worked out from there.

How it worked out from there is that I completed my Master's degree and Matt didn't.  He still hasn't.  I don't think he knew that it would be so when he first made the decision, but we both realized quickly that it would likely mean just that.  He gave up his education for mine.  He worked full-time to pay for my schooling.  He took care of our sons on the evenings and weekends so I could keep up my studies.  And in all that, he never faltered or bemoaned the cost (and it cost a lot, emotionally as well as financially).  He supported me in school and ministry through four years of graduate school until I finally got my degree.  

Looking back, it seems a bit crazy.  Matt could have insisted I postpone my degree until he finished his, and I would have done it.  He could have, at any point, persuaded me that too much was required of him for my education's sake, that he was doing all the giving with none of the getting.  I am amazed actually, looking back, that he didn't do just that.

Except that I know, 12 years now into being in love with him, that it's the kind of man he is.  It's the kind of man I sensed he was in Ein Gedi, in Galilee, in Jerusalem.  I sensed he was patient, and he is.  I sensed he was faithful and persevering, and he is.  And it means all the more to me now, for I know now that not all men turn out to be the kind of men we first think they are.  Sometimes the ones who seem best are simply the ones putting on the best show.

I take it as grace--completely undeserved--that Matt was the real deal.  Matt is the real deal.  He was and is worthy of my love.  And I am working, for the rest of my life, on being worthy of his.

On another beach, celebrating our ten-year wedding anniversary.