The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone? Ecclesiastes 6, verse 11.
I’d like to write this as a birthday ‘thank you’ to my wife.
Husbands, if your wife is quiet it usually means she’s thinking about something. No, this isn’t a sexist statement and it isn’t written to be incendiary. It’s simply my observation that, generally, women have more to say than men. It could be that she’s holding her fire to release it in full force; God help you then! Or it could be that she’s better at thinking things through than we men are; I think that’s more likely.
That’s how it is with my wife. She is better than I am at watching her words. Our son is one of the more garrulous people we know; he’s always full of words. “Dad, you know what” and “guess what” have always been lead-in’s for a long conversation that usually follows. Some people have very few things to say, and some people have few things to say but many ways to say them. So it is with Dman.
I think he gets it from me.
I think he gets that from me because his mom is more reserved. She is much more measured and deliberate in using her words than either me or our boy. It isn’t that she’s unemotional, cold, distant, or unfeeling; NOTHING could be further from the truth. In fact, I don’t think you’ll find anyone with more real emotions, a warmer heart, and closer feelings than my honey. She’s lived a life of up’s and down’s and has learned to master them and use them in service to things higher than just ourselves. It wasn’t always so that she had little to say; it used to be that she could spend hours on the telephone, (I thought) not saying much in quite a few words. It turns out that I was very, very wrong. It turns out that my wife is a woman of strong words, deep meaning, and a faithful and loving heart. She saves her words now because she realizes they are important.
I admire that. You see, I’ve been a practicing believer for most of my life, with a background in strong mainstream denominational faith. I’m proud to say that I know much about Scriptures, that God has always been using that to move, teach, and instruct me in good ways even when I didn’t recognize it. Her background was different, without the weekly Sunday faith that I once thought was as good as it gets.
In truth, I can’t hold a candle to her. All my words and all my fancy talk are mostly meaningless compared to the very real and practical way she lives out her faith. Every day, she wakes up EARLY (because she has to be at work by 0600), gets ready for the day, and does a bible study. She’s been doing this for months now, and it affects the way she looks at the world. God is shaping and molding her through His Word every day. Every morning (after her personal devotion) we have a couple’s devotion together. We’ve been doing this for quite awhile now, all during the time we were struggling to get back together and now well beyond then. I strongly believe it’s one of the fundamental tools God has used in our lives to weld us together as a couple, and it has happened because she led by example. For many years before this she wanted to do family devotions or couples devotions but I resisted because, when we tried, it was contrived and felt ordered by others. I look back now and see that she was right, and that my pride was one big thing that stood in the way.
Through all that time, she led by quiet example, saving her words and moving forward in small but very important ways.
In the context of verses this week that talk about how everything that has been still is, about how things may look better than they actually are if we reach out to touch, and how we’re rarely satisfied by the world, I think it’s great to end the week by stepping back to see how less is more and the wisest among us are the ones using the fewest words. And on her birthday, I’m thankful to sit here in our home and write a few words in the context of good Scripture that remind me of why I’m glad to be at her side. My wife inspires me through her strong, quiet dignity, through her determination and through the fact that she lives out what she believes.
Her job is hectic. She is a pre-school administration director who works longer hours than the people on her staff while getting paid less than what they do. We talk about this quite frequently, how it is her calling to work where she does, doing what she does. We talk about it because her job is quite stressful, and I sometimes think it seems like only force of will is holding things together there. The organization is understaffed, chronically short of teachers who game the system to maximize their own personal benefit, and her position often requires weekend work because she has to fill in ‘on the floor’ for other people who can’t get their own work done on time. Such is the life of middle management.
And such is her calling. Through quiet witness and faithful determination, my lady serves. She doesn’t just work where she does: she serves there. She impacts the children in their care, she impacts the staff working around her, she impacts the people above her who don’t know the strong woman of Christian faith working in their midst but do know that someone of unusual talent and grace is part of their organization. Some people work as teachers, doctors, firemen, pastors, and missionaries; each of us has a calling we feel we must answer. Her work at this time is to serve in her position, quietly but patiently and professionally working to provide a solid pre-school education and superior, loving childcare to people who pay for quality service. Her work involves living a practical Christian witness through actions and all she does.
And she does it without wasting words.
Since today is her birthday, I’d like to recognize in front of some dear friends and dear readers that I’m thankful to be in this woman’s life, to live each day at her side. Birthdays are special and they always should be, even when we grow up and people don’t seem to recognize that as much. My wife knows that less is more in many cases, and that it’s good, right and proper to pack much meaning into fewer words. That’s a talent I admire, because I admire her and all she does. Happy birthday, Kimberly Anne. I think you’re spectacular and wonderful, I love you, and I’m proud to celebrate this day with you.