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This is the third time Mr. Timothy Willard has guest posted on the ol’ LRN site. He’s pretty much the male-Joy at this point, which is a title he’s been working toward for the past few years. (Bows head to be Knighted.)
In reality, I keep asking him back because I know him, respect him and appreciate his wisdom as a married man who can shed light on an area that, well, I cannot.
Single, dating or married, his wise words will impact how you pay attention and bring life to those around you.Photo Credit: Branden Harvey
“But I haven’t been on my bike for days! I need to get out, I need to breathe on the mountain.”
That was me whining about my “alone time” just after my wife and I had our first two children. My mountain bike time was waning, and I felt like my soul was withering. Luckily, my wife knows me, and truly understands that when I come back from the mountain, instead of a Grizzly I’m a Teddy Bear.
Fast-forward five years and another little pixie-daughter and selling our house and moving to Oxford, England. Chris, my wife, gave up her familiarity, her friends, her first house, her nice back deck, her hot summers so that I could pursue a PhD in theology. We now live in a rental on the English countryside, a quick bus ride from Oxford City Center.
I get to study in the epic library and meet with my supervisor in one of the colleges. I get to ride my mountain bike into town and walk along the Thames. But I realized that while I’m researching and writing, two things I love to do, Chris is hard at work with the girls; changing diapers, planning meals, home-educating our oldest, researching curriculum, and folding laundry.
Though we both were working hard at our vocations, I wanted Chris to experience the richness of Oxford. Plus, I know she likes to have time to herself; to have a quiet coffee (with caramel and milk and other gross things she likes in her coffee), to browse the plethora of vintage Oxford shops, to visit second hand bookshops, to soak it all in.
So, one morning after we arrived I told her that it was important to me that she experience this gift of an opportunity in Oxford as deeply as I was.
“Babe, I want you to plan on taking every Saturday morning and spending it alone in Oxford. I don’t want you to be here for two years, yet miss it.” And believe me, she never misses a Saturday. She bounds out the door, but also bounds back in the house when she returns hours later. The time nourishes and grows the love blossom nestled in her soul.
When I find the time to stop my whining, and turn my eyes towards Chris; when I consider what it is that makes her special, what makes her glow, and what renews her spirit I find the blossom of our love thriving within me. It brings me great joy to help her shine.
Chris and I both need “alone time” to refuel. And just like I take initiative to discover her need and figure out a creative way to meet that need, Chris is quick to offer me the time I need on the English countryside. She even agreed to let me hike in the Icelandic wilderness for several days! She knows me, and that takes time and intent and time away from her own needs and desires.
Relationships, in my opinion, are about time. And not just time to ourselves. It takes time to know someone. It takes time to reflect on their needs. It takes time to do something for the other person–something you know will nourish their love blossom, something that will quicken their step, liven their heart, and stretch a smile across the canvass of their life.
How it quickens me too! When I picture Chris in a bookstore with her gross coffee it excites me. I then find joy in cleaning the kitchen while she’s gone, in ripping through several loads of laundry. All of that stuff seems so minor, but it creates margin for her, it gives her space to breathe and do those things that makes her “Chris.”
I always tell Chris that one of the best things we can do for our girls is be our truest selves. Some people leave their identities in the hospital when they have kids. It’s time to be a parent, a wife, a husband, and sacrifice everything for them. That’s not true. My girls will gain much more if I take them along for the ride of my life and Chris’s life.
So, when they see Chris flourish, happy and being “Chris” they learn and grow from this true person before them. This beautiful woman who possesses a brilliant intellect, passionate desires, and ambitious goals.
It’s the same for men as well. Chris pushes me into my dreams. She sold everything so we could pursue a PhD. She wants me on the mountain with my Salsa fat tire bike. She gives me space to create and write books. She sends me off to the Icelandic wilderness. My girls see and interact with a daddy who lives in the glory of the person God made him to be.
Look at that person across from you.
What can you do to make them flourish in the joy of who God made them to be? Are you spending more time figuring out the margin they need than you are whining about the time you don’t have?
Remember, we all need a little time. That’s how our love grows–in the tick-tick-ticking of serving the other, in the sweet intent of helping them be the person God made them to be.
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