To Love: A Valentine’s Post {by Tony}

I’m fifteen years old and I’m in the backseat of the car.   My friends and I have just left youth group and the conversation has turned strange to me.  They are discussing how attractive our youth leader’s wife is.  I sit listening for a few minutes and then I blurt out, like a dumb kid, 

“Hey that’s another man’s wife!”  

 There’s a pause and then the boldest and the oldest of us smirks and says, 


“Who cares, she’s hot.” 

 I don’t respond because I’ve already said my peace and been overruled. Besides as I relive this conversation in my head, I also notice that I’m a scared, young kid, giving in to peer pressure and going down without much of a fight.   

  Fast forward 7 years and I’m in college, I’m listening to another conversation and feeling a different level of confusion.  Our friend who’s getting married that summer is excited about his new discovery,  “I found a website where you can count down how many days it is until you get married. I only have 110 days until I can have sex!” 


 Internally I think, 
“You can actually have sex any time you want at this Christian institution as long you have a car and no conscience.” 

  Out loud I say, 
“Why are you marrying this girl? What is it about her that you love?” 

There is initially a blank stare. I’ve ruined the joy, but the blank stare is quickly replaced by this explanation, 


“Well, uh, she loves God and is smart, and she’s really hot!”  

“Yeah!” 
yell out the other guys in the room to much high-fiving and “that’s what I’m talking about!”  I leave the room realizing that I’m probably just going to make people angry.  

 So let me get this straight: women are supposed to, 
– be smart and hot, 
– really hot, 
and, oh yeah, I almost forgot, if you’re Christian,
– love God.  

Or…at least say you love God so your parents will approve of your spouse. 

OK, got it.  So apart from the standards of the world the only other criteria of Christianity is ‘love God.’


     

I wasn’t asking these questions at this age out of anything other than confusion and concern.  Women in general at the high school level did nothing I thought was very impressive (I wasn’t impressive either) and in college I felt that the only reason women were there was to procure a husband.  I wasn’t’ there for a wife so I was not meeting any of their expectations.  My wife still laughs at the story I told her about the time I didn’t hold the door open for a girl in college and she yelled at me, as a large group of us headed into church,

“Hey Tony Baker, you didn’t hold the door open for me!” 

 “Why should I?”, I shot back, “Your arms don’t look broken. You can open it yourself.” 


Yeah I know, subtly wasn’t my forte, or necessary in the mind of a 21 year old. She quickly lost interest the second those words left my mouth.  


Good.
 

Nowadays I just fight a war of sedition and contrition against any woman showing more than passing interest. A well placed e-mail or a disappearing act are just as effective and no one gets as embarrassed or hurt.

So, what did I want?  


I kept coming back to, ‘Love God.’  


Taylor Swift, in the song, Blank Space, states,

“’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.” 

I believe this is a excellent description of the entire human race.  

All of us walking around in this macabre attire pretending to be Snow White, but that poison apple we willing took from the wicked witch is slowing seeping it’s way into our already tainted blood, just waiting for the perfect set of pride and circumstance to eliminate our witness and neutralize any threat we pose to the king of evil angels.    


 If you really believe the Bible is true, that Satan is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour then, ‘love God’ is really your only chance.  Besides, isn’t Jesus seeking you, not to devour, but because you are his creation. He’s the very sacrifice that paid for our salvation.  He FIRST loved us.  This is love, that Christ loved us and gave himself. 


  There it is: Jesus sacrificed.  In Ephesians 5, men are asked to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  



  When I got down and my knees at the age of 26 and asked Kimberley to marry me, I wasn’t asking her to have sex with me for the rest of my life because she was hot.  Getting down on my knees was an act of service, not just that one time, but for all time.  I was asking her, “will you let me sacrifice myself for your every need for the rest of my life.”


   This last weekend, Kimberley used the Madison House to put on an ‘IF’ women’s conference.  She was going for small and intimate to reach a few women at a deeper level.  This still took hours of her time planning and organizing.  I put our four kids, ages 3-10, to bed by myself on Thursday night.  When she got home late I asked her, “What more can I do to help?”  She needed to talk for about an hour and then she really needed to sleep.  Since I had already done all the dishes and organized the kids into a house cleaning army before she got home, she could sleep in peace.  


 Photo credit: Nicole Spellman



 Friday night was the first day of the conference and it was supposed to run from 7-9pm,  I took the kids home from Madison House around 5:30pm. We cleaned the house again, washed dishes, solved 25 different fights about chocolate, seating, and so forth; did devotions, read a book and then I put the kids to bed around 9:30pm.  Kimberley  texted me and asked me to pray because the feed was going out on the Internet.  The conference lasted until 11:30pm.  Kimberley got home and into bed around 1am.  I tried to wake up and talk but I remember nothing except thinking, “she needs more from me tomorrow.”


Saturday was the last day of the conference so I was responsible for the kids breakfast, lunch, and dinner and everything in between.  We re-cleaned the house, and then tackled laundry, mountains of laundry.  Elias claimed, like he claims every time, that he “forgot how to fold a pair of pants.”   A quick frown from me and shake of the head got him back on track.  The 3 oldest quickly formed themselves into a laundry folding assembly line and we took about a hour to fold all the clothes.  We did the dishes, again, cleaned the house, again, and then it was time for shopping and dinner.  


 Midway through Costco I was practically hanging from the cart and my two oldest daughters grew concerned and asked, “Daddy, are you ok?”  “Oh yeah,” I said, “just fine, I have been fasting today for your mother and her conference.”. They asked what fasting was and I explained it was something that their dad does for spiritual reasons.  This particular day I was fasting and praying for their mother to be strengthened but more importantly that the ladies she was working for would be blessed and encouraged by the Word of God. 




 We got home, cleaned the house, again, did the dishes, again and folded the last of the laundry that had finished drying while we were shopping.  Wash, rinse, repeat – this is having children.  Next was devotions and jammies.  



  When Kimberley got home all she had to do was help me pray for the kids and then put them into bed.  I had let them stay up till ten because I knew she missed them and after three days with old dad, they REALLY missed her. 


  As Kimberley and I settled into the evening she needed to talk for a couple of hours about how well Saturday had gone, in juxtaposition to Friday.  She was glowing, the whole experience was a blessing.  She talked till it was late and I was so excited to have been a part of it.  I get deep satisfaction from working hard for her and seeing the fruit it produces in her life.  


  The next day, after church, we went over to Madison House and broke down all the set-up, did all the dishes and brought everything back over to our house.  The only truly happy marriage is one of sacrifice.  I didn’t complain, I didn’t throw any Mantrums(man tantrums), I found joy in serving Kimberley, her joy over the event was enough for me to feel that I had served the purpose that God has given me for that specific weekend.  


 So…what’s the plan for Valentine’s Day?  Our Friends from Seattle moved out to Ohio for a couple of years and I’ve conspired with them to send Kimberley out there for five days while I watch the kids.  I can’t wait, I love Jesus, I love our children, I love my wife.  



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