My husband navigating us to a winery on our Napa honeymoon. Among many other things, I admire how this man knows his way around a map.
Today we've been married for exactly one year and eight months. I didn't actually plan this post to line up on the 30th, but it's nice that it did! In 20 months, my love for my husband has filled me and overwhelmed me and grown as sure and steady as the days go by. It's been wonderful and we've learned a lot and not all of it has been easy, but we continue to come out on the other side of the hard days with more love than we had before.
But this isn't exactly what I want to write about today. I want to write about how in 20 months of marriage, there has grown in my heart a feeling about my husband that is wound up in my love but is also set apart and exists in me in its own right. That feeling is admiration.
Some of you might think that's rather an obvious thing to say. Of course you admire your own husband! You're proud of him, and want to show him off, and know he's just the best! But if you think about it, we rarely use this word to describe the people closest to us. We say we love them. We say we're proud of them. But we often save our admiration, or at least the word itself, for people we don't actually know. We tend to admire public personalities, people we consider to be role models, a person whose life we would like to emulate in some way.
And I think the reason for this is because admiration is tied up with awe. Mystery. Something intangible that makes us feel a certain person is special and worthy of our praise. I admire Kate Middleton because she is impossibly beautiful and feminine, immeasurably dignified and elegant (can you feel the admiration coming through the screen?). Of course I know she has flaws like the rest of us, but I don't know about them. Her flaws are a mystery and her attributes well-known, and I look up to her for her beauty and grace.
I think we often stop admiring, or forget to admire, the people closest to us because they are familiar. There's less and less mystery surrounding them as the years go on. We share everything with them and they with us, and we begin to know their minds perhaps even more intimately than our own. We are vulnerable with our husbands, just as they are vulnerable with us. The comfortableness of marriage, which is such a wonderful part of being husband and wife, might be the very thing that can make you forget your admiration.
I've been aware of this trap that is all too easy to fall into, and I'm thankful to be able to say that the admiration I have for my husband is alive and well. We, and my husband specifically, have been tested in extraordinary ways over the past year or so. I haven't shared much about why we're here in Alabama, how our plans have changed in dramatic ways, or the struggles we've faced, but I will say that it's been really difficult. We're at a point where we finally feel like we're coming out on the other end--and while aspects of our life-plan now look pretty different than they did a year ago, we couldn't be happier about how things are shaping up. Turns out that trusting in God's plan really is the best way to live.
In all of this--the stress and anxiety, the good news and bad, the acceptance and moving forward--I have admired my husband and the humility and grace with which he has handled things. Of course I feel love for him when he calms my fears and presents the positive way to look at things and just overall encourages and lifts me. But my heart brims with admiration, something a little different than love, when he sits across from me at dinner and calmly and excitedly talks about this new future we're making for ourselves, and how it will allow for the most important things in life to be at the forefront. I admire him in a way I can't describe when he tells me that he trusts that this is the path we are meant to be on. That God knows what he's doing. That even though he's had to give up one dream, there is another one swiftly filling its place, and I am in awe of his faith.
I think that losing a sense of admiration for our spouses, or even just forgetting to acknowledge that what we're feeling is admiration, is something we should adamantly try to avoid. Tell your husband you love him. Kiss him and say that you're so proud of all that he does. Hold his hands and tell him why there's no one in the world you admire more than him.