I loved the show “24,”. To me, Jack Bauer was the quintessential American hero.
Like most heroes, Jack was a loner. He avoided relationships because loved ones have a way of getting hurt around him. He won the day using his well-honed skills. Then he walked back into the darkness until the world needed 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”. They shouldn’t expect us to be emotionally invested on top of that.
But that fantasy is a lie, meant to cripple men and keep them from their full potential as husbands and fathers. Thankfully, God sends men wives to help us overcome selfish fantasies that keep us focused on all the wrong dreams.
My wife Dawn 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 planned to 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 experience started teaching me 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. That was when we were threatened to lose our house, the one she’d wanted the minute we saw it.
When the time came we saw we could no longer hold onto it, 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.
She knew instinctively that out of everything in your home, it’s only the family that matters. Everything else is just window-dressing.
Also, she has brought chaos into my life. Wonderful chaos.
I grew up an only child, happy with lots of time alone. So when the time came for us to have kids, my goal was “one and done.” My wife on the other hand had a higher numeric goal. But then we had trouble conceiving.
No problem for Dawn, though – we’d just 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.
Finally our last child graduated high school two years ago. We’re done, right?
Except for the young lady in our church who had 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 are now two little girls – one three years-old, the other two – playing in the next room. Who’d have thought we’d adopt again in our 50s. 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!”
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…except when I fall asleep in the afternoons now!
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 chasing after stupid things and replaced then with noisy little dreams in the next room.
Quite an accomplishment for such a “little woman”. Happy Mother’s Day, Dawn!