The Truth About Her. This One.

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“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” ~ Proverbs 31:10-12

For some reason I’ve yet to understand, it happens at least a couple of times each month. At some point in the night, I’ll enter a dream-like state where Dana and I have somehow become separated and there’s a sense we’ll never find one another again. So we’ve gone on about living separate lives.

In the dream, I go about my daily business, but at a point, the reality of our “separateness” overcomes me with the deepest melancholy. It could only be described as a complete, desperate emptiness. It reaches a point to that borderline place where your consciousness tells you it may be a dream, yet you can’t pull out of it, and you’re sucked back into the sadness. It’s absolutely horrible.

It inevitably evolves to a moment when I realize I’m actually in a bed, and my hand reaches across to find Dana beside me, right there where she’s always been.  It’s the ultimate sigh of relief. Yes, she’s still right there.

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We married six years ago today.  She was previously married. So was I. That label was something neither of us ever intended. There is no good circumstance for, or about, divorce, and it’s not a thing for celebration. I’ve lost friends telling them that very thing. Don’t celebrate your divorce. We trust God’s grace over all that’s past.

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Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 10.22.23 AMI’ve known a lot of people. I’ve simply never known a better person. She loves my kids. She loves her parents, and mine. And if you’ve ever known her as a friend, you know there’s not a more loyal, dedicated or trustworthy companion.

She possesses a quality the world could use a lot more of. In any room, any circumstance, any situation, Dana is the tie that binds, the connector, the common denominator that brings people together. She exudes love and goodness through both her actions and her words.  If there’s a person who better exemplifies the joyful servanthood of Jesus, I simply don’t know who it is.

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As do all, we’ve experienced our circumstantial challenges. Not in our commitment to one another, but rather the things that come along in everyday life.

We’ve known the financial, social and professional difficulty that comes with closing a business. We’ve known times of depression, family loss, and uncertain outcomes to situations we’ve both created, and others we’ve been randomly handed. And we’ve known the redemptive power of the greater glory that can come from every circumstance.

In those times when one is weak, the other is strong for both. Along with a shared belief in a God who loves and cares for us, I think it’s the strength at our marriage’s foundation.

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We’ve literally traveled the ends of the earth together – been as lost as two people could be. But it’s the great and humble honor of my life that I’ve never felt pressure to lavish expensive gifts on her (even though I want to), or work to put us in some categorical social standing. A wife that loves just being by your side … well, it’s a gift I’d wish on every man.

This isn’t a sermon, these are just words from my heart, but I think it bears repeating Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 10.24.55 AMthat when I see Dana, I see Jesus.  I see faithfulness, virtue, humility, obedience,  patience, charity and forgiveness. And I see joy, in her, and in all those who experience a relationship with her.

Together, we live this thing we call our “laughable dream.” Oh my, what a laughable dream we live.

Dana, thank you for the privilege of calling you my wife.

I loved you then. I love you now. You know I do.

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Expectations for Truth

“Curiosity does, no less than devotion, pilgrims make.”

~ Abraham Cowley

It’s difficult to put my finger on exactly when it happened, but at some point during the last few years, “truth” became the most important thing in the world to me.

I think it was the fake fireplace that did it.

When Dana and I were first married, we didn’t have a lot of money. I’d lost a business I loved to the recession and we owed a lot more than we had. I’d wrongly converted that business to become 100 percent of my identity. Losing it was a huge time for personal growth, but also a tough time for us both. Dana would often do little things to help combat my depression.

In the dead of winter 2009, she bought a DVD, that when played, portrayed various fireplace scenes on our television. The flames would dance and crackle with surprising wonder. It was pretty, I’ll give you that. Yet as mesmerizing as it all was, it took only a few minutes to realize that it didn’t give me warmth, or the smell or the feeling that comes with a real fire. I couldn’t roast marshmallows on it. The DVD was just faking me out, depressing me more, and making me angry. I never watched it again.

Even though the fake fireplace made me feel good for a moment, it didn’t satisfy.

The truth?

It has become more important than family because without knowledge of the truth how can I impart anything worthwhile on a single one of them? How can I lead them? Yes, truth is I still believe it’s my job to do that, and the truth is that’s a pretty unpopular notion in the New World.

It became more important than money because money buys lots of lies that make you believe they’re true. I’ve engaged in this aplenty.

And it became more important than my own ego, because at a certain juncture in life, a man should have a desire to get to know himself for who he really is, not the guy he’s spent a lifetime portraying himself to be.

It’s become really important that when I stand before the mirror, I can reconcile the man I see, with the truth of who he really is.

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And it’s all been complicated further by some pretty radical changes the world has presented to us in recent weeks. It would be really easy here to take a sidebar and write about those things as they relate to truth, but that would be a distraction from the point of the moment. Perhaps another time.

It seems not so long ago I was a 35-year-old Democratic staffer and activist, and a journalist, very much involved in the advocacy of civil liberties, freedom and “equality.” Today, I’m a white, 49-year-old, increasingly conservative Christian man, and I never expected to feel this out-of-place in the world. That’s not intended as inflammatory, separatist, antagonistic, or with a single thread of resentment, but it’s the truth. While the world is evolving in one direction, I couldn’t feel more like a fish swimming against the stream.

This feeling is abrupt. And it’s unexpected.

I’ve further realized that we’re all living in a world now where it’s so deceivingly easy to almost unknowingly portray ourselves as one thing that’s so far removed from the truth, and to actually believe its falsity. This couldn’t be better demonstrated by the growing, and out-of-control trend we’ve created in expressing our convictions on social media. In so many ways, our convictions have become our very worst enemy.

I’m fighting against that, and have become more intentional than ever about the pursuit of truth. Not the new truth. Not the evolving truth. Not my own relative truth. Just the truth. The truth that has always been there. The one that remains.

In the pursuit of such matters, every man must find his own way. Alas, we are all pilgrims in this important regard.

I write this as a bit of further insight into why I’ve chosen to make pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago 90 days from now. It’s not a mid-life crisis whim, or some re-living of the old college glory days. And I don’t presuppose the revelation of some magical, new-age, prophetic disclosure along the trek.

It’s just that I can’t imagine a better way to get closer to God by spending some time alone in the “wilderness,” completely without agenda and void of expectation. It’s time for me to listen.

I have no idea where this is going, and I embrace that uncertainty. That’s the truth, and the truth will come. I expect it.

If but nothing else, it has me writing, and thinking again, and I count that as good.

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Failure: Friend or Foe? (Part II)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/gdvnm5a7i6zj9od/Watkins_EverydayMissionaries_20121212.mov

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As a follow-up to this post yesterday, I’m attaching a 7-minute video clip produced by, and shown yesterday, at Fellowship Bible Church in Jonesboro, AR. Just click on the link above and enjoy.

For Dana and me, it chronicles our life during the last three years, how things seemingly fell apart, and then,  how God responded to it all with the most laughable dream we could ever imagine.

Life is good.

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