I loved the show “24,” and Jack Bauer was the quintessential American hero. A loner often misunderstood, he avoids relationships because loved ones have a way of getting hurt around him. He wins using his well-honed skills, and then walks back into the darkness until the world needs him again.
As a manly fantasy, Bauer gives me a hundred excuses for walking through life at a distance. He tells men all we need are our “skills”, and that people should be satisfied with us “saving the world” every now and then.
But thankfully, God sends men wives to help us overcome selfish fantasies that keep us focused on all the wrong dreams.
My wife is 5 feet tall. Getting a good photo of the two of us is an ordeal, since I come in at 6′ 2”.
I remember a silly old man at one church who’d refer to her as my “wee wifey” every time he saw her. Yeah, she loved that. If I ever want to get her mad, I just launch into a few bars of Randy Newman’s “Short People”.
But despite her diminutive stature, this woman has managed to overturn my life in too many ways to innumerate. In fact, she’s destroyed my dreams…but replaced them with better ones.
My goals involved job success. I’d gain respect by being awesome at my work — the Jack Bauer of pastors! For most guys, respect is the currency of highest value. But when I started realizing you don’t necessarily win no matter how hard you work, it clipped the legs out from under me. I lost confidence because all my self-worth was wrapped up in what I did.
But my wife taught me that a family who loved me regardless was a better dream, and jobs are simply ways of supporting it. When the economy bottomed out along with our money, she didn’t flinch. Then it was our house, the one she’d wanted the minute we saw it. When the time came to let it go, she looked at me bluntly and said, “It’s only a house.” She watched her dream die with unwavering bravery, because she knew it was a cheap dream.
The family in the house is what matters. Everything else is just window-dressing.
Next, she has brought chaos into my life. I was an only child. So when the time came for us to have kids, my goal was “one and done.” My wife on the other hand had come from a bigger family. When we had trouble conceiving, we adopted. Then a few years later, we adopted again. Then God gave us a little surprise we got pregnant! Along the way, I tried to suppress the fear I felt about how I was going to support all these kids. I learned to do something that had been missing in my family growing up. I learned to have faith.
Now our last child will graduate high school next spring. We’re almost done, right?
Except for the young lady in our church who just had a baby. Seems the court ruled her incompetent to be a mother. So as the girl tells us this in tears, I heard these words come out of my wife’s mouth: “So would it help if we were the guardians for the child?”
As I’m writing this, there’s a 1-month old in the next room we had to tell the court we’d adopt if necessary. On my own, I never would have volunteered such a thing. But my wife is SuperMom.
Just ran into an old friend. He’s my age, on his upteenth marriage, financially independent and “living the dream.” He looked at our baby and said, “I couldn’t do it, Dave. Have fun with that!”
But that’s what’s so sad about my friend’s dreams. I am having fun, and I’m not so sure he is! We’re out pushing the stroller, seeing young couples doing the same, and for a minute I forget my age! It’s like life has started over, and I’m thirty again! All my selfish dreams have been replaced with dreams of lasting joy!
All this I owe to my wife: a person so much stronger than Jack Bauer, and with much better values. I realize she has truly saved me from my chasing my stupid dreams.
Quite an accomplishment for such a “little woman”. Happy Mother’s Day, Dawn!