I have in the archives a fabulous cognac lambskin leather blazer that I have had for nearly 8 years. There is something so comforting about a broken-in leather jacket. While it might have some worn spots and imperfections from when it was brand new…it fits perfectly and it is so comfortable. The story behind it is one that I remember every single time I look at it.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalsia in early 2003 after battling intense and debilitating pain for months. I started working in retail with the theory that the constant movement…along with the arsenal of drugs and insane workouts…would be good for me. I very quickly became completely caught up in the way that I looked on the outside because inside I was in perpetual torment that no one else could see or even imagine. I was the poster child for but you don’t look sick.com. I purchased my fabulous cognac lambskin leather blazer on credit for $298 in the fall of that year. This of course was in addition to my monthly allotment in the store I was working in which equated to spending more than I was earning much of the time. When my husband got the bill he was not very happy. He sat me down and told me that I couldn’t spend money like that on a whim just because I felt like it. I of course blew up and manipulated the entire situation (I was really good at that) because HE had NO IDEA how I FELT each and every waking moment of every day. No one could possibly understand! If I was going to feel that bad on the inside I needed to at least look good on the outside. (Yes, I was very selfish and delusional!) He of course didn’t make me return it after that. Even though I should have returned it I decided to keep it because I shortly thereafter got a promotion and I thought I had earned it…I keep it for another reason now.
Just like many of our towels, my favorite tablecloth, and the comforter on our bed have small holes beginning to develop from hundreds of washings over the nearly past 10 years together we will celebrate later this week …just like that leather jacket…our marriage isn’t flawless. It’s had its imperfections, it’s tears and bumps and bruises…it is broken in. When I married my husband I was so in love with him but I had no idea what God had in store for us. I said the words “in sickness and in health”… “til death do us part”….but my husband is the one who brought those words to life and showed me what they really mean in life’s trials and tribulations. He loves me more than he loves himself. When I was lost in a darkness and walking through the deepest valley I’ve ever been through, he was right there with me…just like the Lord was and it’s such a shame that I didn’t even realize how important and special that is when I was in it. He knocked down the doors of the neurologist’s office and said You WILL see my wife today! after being told we had to wait 3 months (and they did!)…he held me while I cried through entire nights in excruciating pain…he prayed for me when I didn’t know how to. He still to this very day lays his hands upon me and prays for me at the start of each day.
My husband showed me…and continues to show me daily…what unconditional love really is…even when I didn’t deserve it. He was Jesus to me…He is Jesus to me. He really does love me the way Christ loves His church. In a day in age where unfortunately few young men are committed to being strong spiritual leaders in their homes my husband makes it one of his top priorities. It is one of the things I love most about him. When I married him I had no idea how valuable that character trait is…just like I had no idea what we would face together…just like I had no idea the joy that abounds from the gift of God’s grace.
I keep that old worn-in leather jacket…I wore it today in fact…because it reminds me that even though our life hasn’t been perfect…it has been immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine. Those imperfections have made us so much stronger than if we had never gone through them. In the thick darkness of the valley I never would’ve been able to say that I was thankful for it…but in hindsight…I really am. I have been blessed by God with not only His Spirit guiding me each day, but the most wonderful husband to walk through this storm of illness with. Neither of them has ever, nor will ever, leave my side. I will take a life, a love, worn-in than “perfection” any day!