Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Man of Action

My husband is a missionary. He'll read this with disbelief, but the words are true. 

I've recently awakened to the fact that our transient, lower class, cross-cultural neighborhood is exactly the kind of place we want to be living. The needs are great here and opportunities to love abound. The kids here need to see a marriage that works, a family that loves, and people that care about them; the adults, too. So I think, I plan, I strategize. How can we build relationships with our neighbors? (Can you tell I am a evangelical pastor's child of the eighties? We need a committee to learn to love.) 

Then I look at my husband and realize that he's already built relationships with our neighbors, and he did so naturally, effortlessly, some of them over years. A point driven home the other day when he was describing the scene of everyone out shoveling snow at the same time. As he was telling me the story I kept interrupting to ask who all these people were to whom he kept referring. He patiently told me where they lived and a little of each of their stories. It was clear that he not only knows their names, he knows them, people I could not even pick out of a line-up. 

When we first married, he was quiet, so quiet. I had enough words for both of us, I suppose. Like a typical extrovert, I played it safe and married an introvert - less competition for attention that way. Over the years, we've both mellowed and matured, he more than me. I still tend to talk at people, rather than with them. I watch in awe as my husband now easily develops friendships with folks, all kinds of folks, but usually, the down-on-their-luck variety...the kind who need Jesus. 

The thing that someone like me, who wants so desperately to love people but can't quite seem to pull it off, can't begin to grasp is how he does it unintentionally. He's not following some sermon or 5-step study of discipleship. He has no vision of how the friendship should progress or when to introduce his faith. Those concepts are foreign to him and probably offensive, as well they should be. 

Recently, while planning a movie/wings night for a group of guys, he announced to me, "Rob's coming." Predictably, I asked who Rob was. "Tattoo Rob?" he reminded me. Surprised, I asked, "You invited your tattoo artist to a movie and wings with the church guys?" Looking at me like I was the idiot that I am, he responded confidently, "Of course."

See, he doesn't see people as projects as I am so tempted to do. Loving them is not a chore to him or a box to be checked. It is simply who he is. The fact that I look at my neighbors as people to be loved instead of just engaging with them shows my bias and my immaturity. I have so far to go in this whole becoming like Christ thing. Thankfully, I'm living with a real life example. Eating wings, shoveling driveways, working on cars, sharing life, building community - these are all just a natural projection of the man my husband has grown to be over the years. 

As is the case with just about everything of importance in our married life, while I'm in here thinking about it, writing about it, praying about it, he's out there actually doing it. Someday, I'm going to grow up and be just like him. In the meantime, you'll find me shoveling alongside him after the next snowfall. 

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