I was trembling…wholly and completely stirred to my core, my very soul shaken. Speechless. There were absolutely no words to describe the 30 seconds we’d just experienced. Neither of said a word. He drove towards home. I stared at the floorboard fighting back tears.
To help you understand what brought us to this place, let me backtrack for a moment…
Recently Josh and I have been engrossed in an ongoing discussion about giving, particularly in regard to tithe. We’ve been talking about what it really means, challenging each other with why we do it, how we do it, and in what ways we can do it better. I’ve realized it’s really easy for me to get caught up in percentages, whether true tithe is gross or net, the difference in tithe and offering, etc. If I’m honest, the legalistic view.
We had shared our thoughts over dinner with dear friends, Steven and Christine. After listening intently for several minutes, Steven ran his hands thru his hair and sighed. He looked at the ceiling thoughtfully, “You know, I think all Jesus is really concerned about is that we give. I don’t think it matters nearly as much how or where, just that we DO. Just give.”
Wow, I thought. That’s simple and freeing in unspeakable ways.
As we gathered up our things to leave, Steven ladled some of the delicious homemade stew we’d just devoured at dinner into a large container, telling me it would be even better tomorrow. Still hot from the stove I tucked it under my arm as we headed out into the cold night air, pondering how grateful I as for covenant friends who challenge me, and how nice it was not to have to think about what to make for lunch the next day.
Our drive back across town was quite. It was late, Josh was tired, and my mind was reanalyzing our latest ‘giving’ discussion. As we exited off the freeway and slowed at the light, I immediately saw him in the darkness. To the left, begging, a haggard looking older man in a wheelchair. He had one leg. “I bet he’s a vet,” I wondered aloud. (I read an article a few years ago claiming that nearly half of Dallas’ homeless are Vietnam veterans. It had alarmed me, broken my heart.)
The light turned green, but as we pulled forward my heart surged, “Please turn around. I want to give him something. Please.”
Josh hesitated, not knowing quite what to say. It’s no secret that we disagree on the whole homeless issue. We go back and forth, sometimes on the same page, sometimes not. I see his point, he sees mine. We both want to give when we see a need, but how to do that effectively and with some inkling of wisdom is always in question.
“Terrica, I just…ugh!” he whipped the car around.
I knew he felt guilty for not wanting to stop. I felt guilty for asking him to, knowing he’d feel this way, making him feel this way. It’s a perpetual cycle with us. Neither of know what to do about it.
The only cash either of us had was the remainder of our grocery money, for the month. It was a large bill. I held it in my hand, debating in my head and heart whether this was wise or not.
I’m admittedly moved by emotion, by impulse and feeling. I go with my heart. Josh doesn’t. He’s more calculated, reasoning decisions out in his head. I think it’s a good balance. I knew he was going to object, rightly so, to me giving the last of our grocery money to a bum on the street. I feel completely torn. Go with my heart? Submit to my husband’s wisdom? Is there even a right answer to this? Yes. Submit to my husband. He’s my authority. He answers to God on behalf of both of us. What I have to do to honor the Lord in this situation, is honor my husband.
“It’s okay,” I finally breathe. “We really don’t have to go back. It was an emotional decision. We can go home. I won’t get upset with you, I promise.”
“No, Terrica. It’s fine. I’m just never comfortable handing cash out the window to some random homeless guy on the street in the middle of the night!”
“I know, I know…I wish I had an apple or someth—the stew!” I suddenly remembered the stew wedged between our seats in the dark of the car. “Let’s give him the stew! It’s still hot! Can we give him the stew?!”
Josh laughed at my enthusiasm, “Okay—we can do that. I feel better about that.” He was still driving in circles trying to figure out how to get back to the intersection. I dug through the glove compartment hoping to find a plastic spoon. I found a fork. Hmm…that’ll have to do.
As we neared the light it turned red. Perfect. I saw him, his back to us, but when I rolled down my window he instinctively jerked his chair around and frantically began struggling our direction. He won’t get here before the light turns… “I’m getting out.”
“Two seconds!” I jerked my door open and jogged towards him, squatting down in front of his chair. One leg, tattered clothes, clearly unshaven for many months, his eyes were desperate. As I handed him the stew he clutched it to his chest like treasure. His tongue hung permanently from his mouth, even as he mumbled a soft, sincere “Thank you.” I apologized that I didn’t have a spoon. Seconds were ticking like years, our eyes locked, but I couldn’t walk away yet. I remembered what a friend had said recently of her work with the homeless, that it often touches them if you simply ask their name.
“What’s your name, sir?” His eyes softened, hopeful almost. Tension seemed to subtly leave his body. He gurgled slowly over his tongue, “Tim.”
“Tim?” I repeated for clarity. He nodded. “Well, Tim. It’s nice to meet you. Bless you.”
He didn’t respond. I don’t think he knew how. Our eyes remained locked. “I want you to know that we’re going to be praying for you, my husband and I. We’re going to pray for you.” I didn’t ask. I simply stated it plainly, because it was the truth.
He stared at me for another moment, then gurgled again, “Thank you.” I smiled one last time before jogging back to the car just as the light changed.
Josh didn’t say anything. Neither did I. I fought back a torrent of tears, not sure what all I was feeling. After several minutes of staring at the floorboard I said out loud, though mostly to myself, “He was precious. Like a child. So gentle and kind, you could tell.” I paused for a moment, trying to articulate my next thought. “And you know what else? That was more difficult and moving than any check I’ve ever written to a church.” We sat silently letting the statement sink in.
At home a few minutes later I busied myself with an ongoing decorating project in our bedroom, trying to shake the emotion of stepping briefly into Tim’s world. I was too wound up for bed just yet. I prayed silently for Tim, asking God for help to even know how to pray. I was standing on the stepladder when Josh appeared beneath me from the kitchen, eyes full of tears. “Terrica, I know I don’t say it often, but I want you to know how much I love your heart.” All of the insecurity I was still feeling from asking him to turn the car around, melted. I reached for him, tears filling my own eyes. He continued, “I never tell you this, but I’m so thankful for a wife who cares about those things instead of Jimmy Choo’s or Gucci bags.” His voice was shaky. “I’m so grateful. I want you to know that. Even though sometimes I make a big deal out of it, in the end, I’m always thankful when we turn the car around.”
I stepped down and into his arms, and we just stood there in the moment letting all of our gratitude and fears and unresolved theologies just hang in the air around us. My heart surged again, but this time for my husband, “Thank you for saying that. I’m so thankful for a husband who appreciates that about me, and tells me so. Sometimes I just feel like a silly, emotionally-driven girl.”
He laughed, burying his face in my hair, “Well you are, but there’s nothing wrong with that! Sometimes I’m a just selfish, emotion-less guy.”
I giggled, “Yep, so true. You need me don’t you?” I teased dramatically. “You’d be lost without me!”
He looked at me seriously, “Actually, in a lot of ways I would.”
Authentic intimacy in the bedroom begins with vulnerability outside, in the day-to-day moments. Those moments include celebrating our differences as men and women, husbands and wives, learning to appreciate how God made us so uniquely male and female. If you want to inspire rather than require your husband’s affection, affirm the unique characteristics that make him who he is. Most of the time it’s as simple as articulating what we’re thinking or feeling, just as Josh did. Otherwise, I would have continued to feel a little judged rather than celebrated. Those two minutes of him vulnerably sharing his heart with me certainly inspired my affection…but we won’t go into those details ;-)