My husband just celebrated another birthday a few days ago. Due to having a lot of recent stress with work (good stress, but still, stress) and being pretty sick with an upper respiratory infection from "you know where" for a week, I could tell that the coming of another age-marker was pretty low on the totem pole for him. Once you're "in" your forties, birthdays pretty much stink. But as they always say, it's better than the alternative!
One thing that pretty much made Matt's day was the news that our little niece, Wylie, had accepted Christ as her personal Savior, ON his birthday! What a delight it was to hear that our precious little loved one had made the most important decision of her life at the ripe ol' age of five (same age as our Allie was). Matt was elated. We both discussed how we would never forget that Wylie prayed that prayer on his birthday. Pretty great gift to get on your birthday. The Bible says that the angels and all of heaven rejoice when even one person comes to Christ. We seriously felt that, too!
We went on with our evening to enjoy a basic birthday celebration--dining with our daughter and her husband at one of Matt's favorite restaurants of all time, "Coco Bolo's." Coco B.'s, as our family calls it, is a high-end, southwest cantina of sorts in Manhattan, KS ("Manhappiness," as our K-State friends call it). They serve the most delectable entrees, and the beef dishes in particular are sinfully scrumptious (thus, it's one of my beef-man's faves). Our family loves Mexican/southwest food, so it is a good fit for us right away. Matt ordered his favorite, the carne asada, and all was well with the world.
But it was really just another day for him. I could see it on his face. I felt some guilt for not making a lot of hoopla and glitz over the whole thing, like I typically try to do. We have both been ill, have had a lot on our individual plates (and I'm not talking about the meal at Coco B.'s, though that was also true), and with Christmas rapidly approaching, Matt's birthday kind of became an after-thought this year. I hate that--poor guy. He likes to teasingly declare quite dramatically (with his fake, ornery grin) that he always gets the shaft with having a birthday two weeks prior to Christmas. So throughout our marriage I have tried my level best to make that distinctly untrue, but I failed miserably this year. However, my T-bone (the nickname given to him by our card party friends) never complains. He is a man who defines contentment, and I am richly blessed.
I found myself taking some moments to really look at him on his special day though. He looks so great--heads above others his age. And he carried so much stress caring for a wife and baby at eighteen and getting himself through college in three and half years. He is such a hard-worker and strives to do his best in all his does, regardless of where he is and whom he is serving. In looking at him and giving him this affirmation that night, I recalled a precious conversation I had years ago with one of my fellow band-mates at church. He was sharing about the fact that no matter what age his wife hits, she still looks the same to him as the day he married her--and in fact, even more beautiful. He shared with me that though she felt insecure at times in the "weathering process" she was experiencing in getting older, he truly viewed her as more beautiful than when he had married her. He remarked about how it is a neat blessing from God when a couple ages together and yet still sincerely view each other as the people they married. It's as if the wrinkles, loose skin, age spots, and other frailties aren't even there. I pondered this and have many times since the conversation. How I long for this to be true. I mean, I've never questioned my love for Matt or whether I'd still love him as an old man. But I've worried about the opposite--will he love me as I change? Will he still see me as me?
Let's be honest--in our society, men are given much more leeway with regard to aging. It doesn't matter if it's fair or not, or if your spouse believes this or not, it is a simple fact--women aren't supposed to get old. We're told this from our teen years--that being young, beautiful, and perfect in every way possible are basic requirements to not only getting, but keeping a man. We all know as females and are warned early on that if the little "rush" our man gets when he sees a beautiful woman is bigger than the rush he gets for us, we're in trouble--or at least, we should be cautioned. So, a lot of people have profited off this belief and fact in our world. Just walk into any Dillard's or Nordies and look at all the freaking makeup--there's more of it than anything else in the store! It is truly unreal how much money a woman can spend trying to look good for a man. My band mate also mentioned the fact that when you age together as a couple, and you aren't blind to the reality of your
own aging process, younger people just look like children to you. He said, "Anyone in their right mind isn't attracted to someone to whom they could
have given life." I have to agree, totally. If you aren't attracted to your own reasonable age group, your self awareness and identity are way off-base--sorry, just my opinion.
Matt and I recently took a trip down memory lane and looked at our old wedding photos. We always end up in total laughter because we look like children playing dress-up in wedding attire--seriously! It is actually rather sad to look at the two young, dumb kids standing there on that altar, smiling like they have it all figured out. Boy, were we naive. We had no clue what we were getting into or all that we were about to face! But it is also pretty cool to look at the man I married and realize that he looks so much better to me today than he does in those pathetic wedding photos. In those pictures, Matt is just a blind, dumb, teenage boy in love, who needs to gain about 30 pounds, is wearing a really bad tux, and who I no longer know. But in reality today, he is so many greater, deeper things to me. He is an intelligent, witty, charming, refined, driven, thoughtful, generous, educated, loving, gentle, joyful, content, God-fearing, confident, handsome man. So, I get it. I really get it. When you truly love someone, and you watch them grow into a person of distinction, character, and immense quality, of course they only look better as the years pass--even as the outside appearance fades. It's all that stuff underneath that gives enormous value to the attraction and the overall appearance. I don't care how good looking someone is--if they are selfish, proud, arrogant, rude, cruel, and untrustworthy, their looks fade immediately. The outside value will take you about as far as a day.
So though I sort of blew it for my devoted hubby's birthday this year in not making it some major celebration, I write this blog in his tribute. T-bone, you are an amazing husband and father. You are an immensely special person. You are a Godly man who loves to serve the Lord with gladness--and that my friend, is divinely attractive. You make me feel like a goddess, and you bring great security and joy to my heart and life. I am reminded of the verse in Proverbs 5:18, "May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth." Thank you, babe, for always doing that. And happy birthday...you look amazing.