For two weeks now I’ve been planning to write a mushy essay for your birthday about how much I love you, and to post this song as a tribute to us. And then we got into that huge fight on the day the kids started puking, and you were stressed about work, and you’ve been putting in long hours, and I didn’t get any sleep, and even through several conversations I still haven’t felt settled in my heart like we’ve resolved it.
And then I didn’t feel much like writing a mushy essay anymore about how much I love you.
But I know these are the “for better or for worse” times we talked about when getting married, when covenanting with God that we will push through this soupy existence together all the way until death (and killing each other doesn’t count). I know now this is just a blip in a very long life together (God help us), and even though I sometimes feel we are having the same argument over and over again, just over different things, at least we are still having the argument instead of simply passing by one another on our way to and from the bathroom.
You’ve asked me several times this week if I liked you, and I know I said something smart-ass like, “I have to like you, we’re married.” And even though I know it’s not technically true, that I really don’t have to like you just because we’re married, I really do like you. In fact, I like you so much that I’m willing to overlook the fact that you can be an ass sometimes – mostly because I know I can be a real bitch, too. And mostly because I know that as long as we are still alive we will always find ways to hurt each other, and that I’d much rather be pushing through this soupy existence toward reconciliation with you than anyone else in the world.
So when the guy in the song says, “I’ll stand by you, if you stand by me…” I only agree with that to the extent that I’ll stand by you. I don’t think God intended Covenant to be an “if” kind of thing, so my prayer is that you will feel me standing by you even during those “for worse” times when I don’t necessarily feel you standing by me first. This is a stretch, I know. I can picture you pursing your lips as you read this, mentally listing off all the ways I have not stood by you this week. And I get it. I’m not sure I’m there yet, which is why I said it’s my prayer. As in, going forward I hope to respond differently to you when I feel hurt.
And now that I think about it, I’m not sure you really do make things better, as the guy in the song says. I mean, I’m sure I don’t make things better for you, either, but how are we supposed to? That seems like a pretty complicated task, to make things better for someone else. And maybe that’s why I got so mad the other day, because I wanted you to make things better for me, and you were hoping I’d make things better for you, and it was the perfect storm of disappointment that neither one of us could be made to feel better in that moment.
But then again – I mean, even though I’m just now realizing you can’t make me feel better like Jesus can make me feel better – you do make things better in the sense that you are with me. It is not good for man to be alone – that’s what God says, and I think he has a point. I’ve been alone before and I didn’t like it very much. And even though you sometimes make me wish I was alone again, I know that’s just the liquor talking, and when I sober up I’m always glad you’re right there with a strong cup of coffee in hand.
So on today, your 38th birthday, I just want you to know that I love you. I think you need to hear that from me now, because maybe you were wondering if I did, given the week. But I do. I love you. It’s complicated, but I love you. Over and over. And you make things better, because I can’t imagine I would work this hard at anything else if I didn’t think it got better every time we came through a rough spot.
Happy Birthday, Bryan. I love you.