Sixteen years ago, a newly married wife of a young law student attended a womens’ church retreat near Austin. Upon learning that the twenty-something was married to a law student, one of the older attendees at the retreat issued a stern warning:
“Oh, honey! Haven’t you heard about lawyers? They have three wives. One to get them through law school, one to bear their children, and one that is their intellectual equal.”
Those of you who know Sheila can readily guess which of those statements got on her nerves the most.
Intellectual equal?! Don’t even try to tell me that I’m not my husband’s intellectual equal!
She could deal with the other stuff. But, in those days especially, it was a very unwise thing to question her ability to argue, think, and otherwise compete toe-to-toe with me.
Ironically, a little over two years later, she was all three things: my supporter/wage earner, mother of one of my children, and every bit my intellectual equal. And since that time, her role in my life has only grown. For me, she is now mother of four, a trusted advisor, a nurse, a confidant, a friend, a planner of events, a soothing voice on rough days, an accountant, a pastor, and a few other things that are best left unspoken in a public forum.
I mean it when I say this: Sheila is the most remarkable woman I have ever known. Her range of practical, day-to-day skills is only matched by her capacity for compassion. She is a dazzling public speaker and a great friend and counselor to those who know her. She can plan events from birthday parties to mission trips to youth events down to the last detail. She is full of compassion for those in need. I have seen her exhausted, on her hands and knees, cleaning the homes of those who need her help. I have seen her console teenagers and adults in crisis, and provide food and support for people in need. I have seen her weep because of the heartbreak of people that she barely knows.
The wellsprings of eternal life flow from deep within her, and all of those who are near her experience the mercies of God.
There are times when we get on each others nerves a little. I suppose that happens in every marriage. But those occasions are short, few, and far between. More and more often, as I reflect on our relationship, I am coming to an insane revelation.
I am madly in love with this woman.
And when I say that, I mean Gomez Addams mad. Just totally, over-the-top, crazy about her.
Today is Sheila’s birthday. She usually doesn’t read this blog, since she gets more than enough of me in real life. But, if you happen to see her during the next day or two, take the time to wish her a happy birthday.
And – while you’re at it – you might want to warn her that her husband has been blathering on and on about her on the internet like a love-sick sixteen year-old.