Yesterday, I was headed home for lunch when I came upon an unexpected scene. I was the third or fourth person to arrive. A young woman had collapsed at the street corner. A man in running clothes was kneeling beside her, his right arm cradling her head from the concrete. His arm was covered with blood as was her face. He was speaking gently to her, though at first she looked unconscious. He seemed to be pleading with her to wake up, to come back.
I cannot erase the scene from my mind. It was not the blood. It was the tenderness of a stranger.
In my last post, I talked about how women save men. Now I want to talk about how men save women. It goes both ways you know. It has to.
Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. (1 Corinthians 11:11–12.)
First, I want to talk about how my wife saves me every day. She doesn’t have to try. All she has to do is be who she is — wise and insightful, caring, thoughtful, compassionate, kind, and patient. Obedient. Nurturing and ministering. Loving. Committed. And funny. Hilarious, really. And beautiful.
We have been married for 35 years and it just keeps getting better and better.
When we see each other after work, we hold each other and kiss each other like we were newlyweds. Our constant displays of affection used to embarrass our children, but not so much now that they are older.
My wife needs me and I need her. Yes, if she suddenly died, I know I could survive and live on. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what that would be like. From a practical, earthly point of view, I could limp along. But I need her, like the day needs the sun. If I lost her, I don’t know if I could remarry.
When we met, I was 17 and she was 15. We were married four years later, after my mission. I knew if I hadn’t gone on a mission and served faithfully there, she never would have been interested in me. That’s certainly not why I went on a mission but it’s one reason I’m glad I did.
My wife is the reason I get up in the morning and try again. We never stop talking, talking, talking. We sit close in church meetings, often holding hands. There is nothing I’d rather do than spend time with her. She is my sunlight.
And this is how I save her. I love and cherish her more than anything in this world, and I prove it to her, imperfectly, every day. I do things for her. Not things that she can’t do but things that she doesn’t want to do. She doesn’t have to be everything and do everything, because we are partners. She can rely on me to be prayerful, honest, forgiving, and kind. I will make the phone calls she doesn’t want to make. She knows she can ask for a priesthood blessing any hour of the day. God’s priesthood is hers for the asking. I love to serve her. I love that she needs me and wants me.
These ideas may seem old fashioned to some readers. They certainly are old fashioned. But they lead to old-fashioned happiness—the kind that lasts.
Yes, we have the best things life has to offer. We don’t have as much money as we once had or as much as we’d like. We are not sure how we are going to afford to serve a mission together quite yet. We are together, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually. We complete each other. We’ll figure it out.
I think this is how the Lord meant things to be for couples. I know it doesn’t always work this way, but does that mean it shouldn’t work out this way? In spite of my failures and sins, I strive for the ideal, for what heaven looks like and what I know it will be.
Even though we have done well in love, it doesn’t mean that life and love aren’t fragile. I am aware everyday that foolish choices, by either of us, could lead to disaster. But what holds us together is the commandments. They kept us safe before we were married and gave us a sturdy foundation. They have never failed us and they never will. We may fail them, but they cannot fail us.
The other day, my wife signed us up for an art class, an evening class at the local high school. Together we will draw and paint and mold and explore. It will be yet another adventure. They never end.
Back to the tender scene at the street corner. An ambulance and a fire truck came. The girl awakened and, when I left, she seemed okay. But what about the man with the blood on his arm? What about him? Did he finish his run? Could he? I don’t know. But what I do know is that for a few minutes early one Monday afternoon, he tenderly held and protected a stranger. He did what came naturally to him.
I wish I could be more like him. I wish all men would be more like him.
Shortly before our last baby was born, we went into see the nurse midwife, Stephanie. I was feeling a little down about how useless I would feel to my wife in the delivery room. I told Stephanie how I felt and she said something that changed my life.
“Imagine how she would feel if you were not there.”
Being there, just really being there, counts for a lot in life. It makes a huge difference in the lives of others. You can save someone just by being you.
P.S. A friend of mine wrote an inspiring and thought-provoking piece on the divine nature of men. I’ve never seen or heard it explained quite like she does. I highly recommend reading it.