Friday, January 13, 2006

The Claudia I Never Knew

Chances are you read this blog because you have a connection with my wife, Claudia. In fact, I'm not sure that I have ever given any one I know the website address for my blog. If you read Claudia's blog -- or if you know her personally -- you probably have some opinions about her. She is the kind of person who doesn't just waft, cloudlike, into the lives of others. Rather, she is very much a presence, something akin to an emotional Hurricane Katrina.

She and I have been married nearly ten years now (June 15, 2006, will be a decade). Ten years ago I was finishing up my Master of Divinity degree, working in a small two-church "charge" (what United Methodists call groups of two or more churches who together employ a pastor) and anticipating an interesting life. I would be saying goodbye to the freedom and anarchy of singlehood and saying hello to what I perceived might be constriction and oligarchy.

The last decade has been more than interesting. It has been phenomenally exciting, stressful and rewarding. There is nothing in my life that has challenged me quite as much as being a husband and father. I had the training and experience to be a good enough pastor, and I'm bright enough to do most anything I choose to do, but I was never quite sure I'd do all that well on the husband/father continuum. Most days I still am not sure how well I do on that continuum, but what I am able to do I attribute to my spouse.

I am grateful for the freedom and the courage she supplies to me. Many other women would be intimidated by a man who does almost all of the cooking (and enjoys it). Territorial as some females can be about their home or children, Claudia is not like that. And it is a great gift to me.

Had I known this about Claudia twenty years ago (when we first knew each other in college), we might be celebrating our 20th anniversary and not our tenth this year. The Claudia I thought I knew in the 1980s is certainly not the Claudia I know now. And I'm not suggesting that she's changed all that much. But I have.

The Claudia I never knew is one who is consistent (some would call it dogged) about those things that matter to her. She is passionately committed to her vision (if you have heard her speak or read her blog or deal with her on a professional basis, let me assure you that she is as passionate about what she tells you in those media as she is in everyday life). She is confident about the place God has in her life, and the place God wants to have in others' lives (really, she should be the one with "The Reverend" preceding her name, not I). She is bold in confronting discrepancies and injustices. She is brave and will do what she needs to do even if (especially if) there may be complications associated with whatever the issue might be.

The Claudia I never knew is one who makes me want to be a better man. And that is no small feat for this independent, stubborn, intellectually curious specimen of humanity.

Here's looking forward to the next ten years of married life!