This is a story I love to tell and haven’t told often enough. I knew Chris way back when, before the world was filled with much badness and when most of my days were filled with laughter. I was actually the older sister of his girlfriend at the time, and I drove he and his brother back and forth to school. We attended a small Christian school back then, and the standard rule was that everyone in the school was basically like family.
I transferred to a public school for my senior year, went off to college, got engaged, got married, and the rest is mostly water under the bridge. Chris – I didn’t know this then – graduated from high school, got into some trouble, ended up in the Marine Corps (thank God), and pretty much took up permanent residence in Afghanistan and Iraq.
About five years into my marriage, things went from difficult but I could persevere gradually downhill to the point where I could no longer even fake trying. I was raised that divorce is never right, I had three amazing children that I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving, and so I tried to keep on keeping on. I knew that if I ever did finally leave him, there would be about a zillion questions that I would have to answer, so I would have to be firmly confident between myself and God that I had done everything possible to make it work. And, when I knew that I had, and could not any longer, I filed for divorce.
The divorce was monumental in several different ways, some of which are obvious to you, and some of which make no sense at all. I had essentially learned through the past 5 years that I was worth nothing to anyone, and believed it whole-heartedly. (Can anyone say “battered woman syndrome”?)
And then, by some colossal wave of the Creator’s wand, I found Chris on MySpace. The man did nothing more than share the past with me as we reunited. And then he shared a more personal part of his past – the manner in which he was raised. I had always known he lived most of his life with his grandparents, but never really knew why, and so he shared. What he shared that was most important was his love for his mother. His mother, who had not raised him, and whom he had always loved more than life itself. He knew that she had done the right things for herself in life, and he swore to me that knowing that was more important than living every day with her.
With that conversation, he gave me the right to finally believe that my children would not hate me. (Unfortunately, I knew that filing for divorce would immediately mean losing custody of the kids. This is the ugliness of my court battle.) When, as I’ve shared before, I realized I was setting an example for my daughters on the way a marriage should look, I quickly gathered up as much strength as I could muster and got out. I never want for them what I had for myself for those 10 years.
What Chris has taught me since those first moments are monumental in my life today and for my future, and I’d like to share them with you.
My Hero – This man is a combat veteran, and he’s not done yet. In 12 years, he’s served 8 deployments, and he’ll surely serve 2-3 more before he retires. He’s not a war junkie or an adrenaline addict. He does what he does, so that you don’t have to. Bad men need to be laid down, and he’s good at doing so. He stands up for what he believes in, without backing down and often while risking his own life to do so. He is the absolute epitome of a hero.
But, more importantly, he’s MY hero. He rescued me from a place of self loathing and uncertainty. Essentially, he taught me that I was worth something, that someone would want me again, that I was beautifully created by a Maker who doesn’t know what “mistake” means.
My Protector – He keeps the bad guys away. Except when he can’t because he’s serving on some foreign soil, and then he sends in the backup – a teddy bear named Michael. Though you may laugh, I assure you that this is one of the most important parts of our relationship. Coming from a background of a great deal of abuse in many forms, I wasn’t certain I’d ever trust someone to be my protector. Bad things do still happen – things that are out of our control – but the reaction I have to them is now much different. I may still cry, but I don’t cry myself to sleep. And more importantly, I will never again be the woman sitting in the corner of a bathroom on the floor with my arms wrapped around my knees, rocking and softly sobbing. Never.
My Angel – I can think of no better definition of this term than the one that Trent Tomlinson gives it:
And I know he lives a little left of livin’ right,
And he’s come close to goin’ way too far a few times.
But I’d trade a thousand prayers if just one prayer would come true:
Lord, please believe in him, like I believe in you.
-One Wing in the Fire
My husband is not perfect in the typical definition. He smokes, he drinks, he swears, he’s covered in tattoos, he’s got a history that isn’t beautiful, and he can be unruly at times. But, he lives like there’s no tomorrow, enjoys the moments he’s blessed with, stands up for what he believes in, and loves me with a passion that never ceases (even when I’m difficult to love). He is MY Angel. He was created perfectly for me, and any imperfection that the world may see fades away as I look into his eyes that dance with happiness.
I’m blessed for I know what I have been given in comparison to what I once tried to take. When you sit back and watch the Creator unfold your life, it’s always a much better result than when you take for yourself what should have never rightfully been yours.
ilu, Sinatra. You and no other. Forever.