Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Valentine

Today I was reading a conversation online about shyness. The point was made—several times—that shyness is really pride and self-centeredness, to which I wholeheartedly say “Amen!” Reading about others’ struggles with shyness made me mentally retrace my journey to freedom. I was shy and socially awkward for many years. (Stay with me, this really is about my valentine.) I made excuses for my lack of social skill (“I just don’t fit in. People don’t like me.”) and blamed all those rude, thoughtless people who didn’t reach out to me, without taking any responsibility for my part. Which was, uh, about 90%.

I was critical and judgmental toward others about a host of issues.

I was also a very fearful person. Not long ago I was looking back at letters and journal entries from 1999. I was so afraid! Afraid of Y2K, meteor storms, invasions of several countries, and a host of other things (not just conspiracy theories). I worried all the time. For the record, none of what I worried about ever happened.

And I excused these things with the statement, “That’s just the way I am.”

In the midst of all this, Billy was God’s perfect gift to me. He loved me unconditionally, and, like God, didn’t look at my outward appearance but instead looked at my heart. I wanted to honor God with my life, I just didn’t know how in so many ways. A lot of my efforts to grow spiritually were just dead-end attempts to make myself good enough for God…But somehow Billy saw past that and loved me anyway.

I had a good life before we married, but after we married it became awesome. Marriage was great for lots of reasons, but one of the greatest was that I became joined with a man who helped me grow. He was not afraid to speak the truth in love. Billy is truly the most teachable person I have ever met. His entire life is committed to allowing God to make him into the person He wants him to be, by whatever means necessary. He is also gifted in helping others become more like Christ, one of the main reasons he’s now a discipleship pastor.

I can honestly say that I don’t know where I would be without him. He has sharpened and encouraged me more than he will ever know. With his guidance, I grew from a shy, awkward, fearful young woman to one who has found security in Christ, the freedom of faith and trust, and love for others. Billy has never been afraid to tell me, “Fear and worry are sin.” And then he’s been willing to help me break fearful thought habits. He confronted me when I made critical comments about people and was a loving example of God’s grace toward others. He loved me when I was too shy and insecure to answer a question in Sunday School or play a new board game with friends, and he continued to love me until I grew past those handicaps.

I’m still a long way from perfect, but I can say that Billy has been God’s greatest instrument for change in my life. He loves me like Christ loves the church. Looking back over the past 8 years, I am overwhelmed at how far I have come, largely because of the wonderful man God gave me. This Valentine’s day it might not sound very romantic to say that I love Billy because he has helped me grow spiritually, but it’s true. Thanks to his discipleship and leadership in our marriage, I know a freedom and hope I otherwise never would have.

I love you, Billy. Thank you for loving me.


JAN said...

What a wonderful story! I think the fact that Billy has helped you grow spiritually is more romantic than anything else he could do! Not only do you have freedom and hope because of your husband, I would imagine you feel quite safe and secure as well.

Charity Grace's husband (dh) said...

I'm impressed. I'd like to meet this guy some day. :)

Charity Grace said...

Jan, your are right, I do feel very safe and secure.

And as for cg's dh--I will have to introduce you to this guy one day. ;)