I blog mostly about other people and their lives. I've been thinking lately how I'd love to spend more time writing about my own life, the people that fill it, and what I'm learning. So in light of that I thought I'd start by writing a blog post in honor of my husband and his 32nd birthday.
I could write A LOT about this man. About the first time I saw him in O' House Dining Hall at UGA, or how he taught me about God and grace in a way I had never heard before, or what a fun dancer he can be if the environment is right:) But what I've been thinking about lately is how my admiration and respect for him has grown over the past 13 years in knowing him. It seems like most people have an incredible amount of admiration for someone when they see that person from afar, but as they get to know him or her better it wanes as all the imperfections are seen and the mystery of the person is gone. I am so so glad to say that this has not been the case for my knowing of Jared. The more I know him, the greater my admiration grows. And I know this is by God's grace and kindness in Jared's life (and mine).
You know how you wonder if you'll ever change? Or if you're any different than you were 10 years ago? That is something Jared and I talk about a lot. We run into the same struggles in our lives that we did in high school or college, and thought we'd grow out of. But as much as we feel that way, I can honestly say that Jared has grown in his love for me and others, the quality of his character, and his confidence in God. He serves more readily than ever before (helping raise our boys together, helping me move furniture a million times because I'm obsessed with redecorating and rearranging, freeing me up to get out of the house when our 4 walls are driving me nuts). I see him talking on the phone at 10pm, listening to someone who is struggling in life and needs help. After he gets off the phone and I ask him who he was talking to or what was going on, and yet Jared never discloses his conversation or details because he wants to protect the confidentiality he has established with a friend. He doesn't like talking about people or their weaknesses because he knows his own all to well. And when he does fail in any area of his life, he is quick to ask for forgiveness and change direction. I remember growing up and seeing my dad as a man of great integrity, and it turns out that is what I found in my husband, too. Jared is the kind of person that lives honestly before God and people, not hiding flaws to appear better than anyone but desiring in the deepest parts of him to be genuinely transformed by the grace of God.
Recently Jared took Ethan (our 5 year old) to a friend's house while I was home with Andy. He said they were working on a surprise for me and would be back later. When they got home, I walked out in the garage and found a table built from an old wooden door. Ethan ran up to me, telling me that he and Daddy built a table for me for the back porch. I've been wanting to create a better space on our back porch for awhile, and had mentioned that I would love a table like the ones I've seen built out of doors. I come from a family that makes everything, from tables to puppet theaters to houses. Jared's strength when I married him was not building and creating, and I knew that and had no expectation that he would love to be a handyman. And yet that day he built a table for me with the help of some tools from a very handy friend. Jared walked into the garage and asked if I liked it. OF COURSE I DID! He said he was listening to me and remembered when I saw one I liked a few months back. He listened. He remembered. And he built a table. And yet this gift is so much more than a table. It is a picture of what I see happening in Jared. He is growing in his ability to act on love. He is using his life to serve, not hoarding time but pouring himself out for others. And I am one of the biggest benefactors of this. His strengths are still there and growing, too. But what has made a greater impact on me are not his strengths but the transformation I see happening in his weaknesses.
Jared recently became a part of a counseling group in Athens (Stonegate Counseling Associates) where he serves as a pastoral counselor. His emphasis is on helping with pre-marital and early marriage counseling, depression, stress, and spiritual growth. I couldn't recommend a better person to talk to in those stuck places in life. That says a lot considering I know the man better than anyone and have struggled with depression myself. He recently started a blog as a starting point for his counseling ministry, and I hope he continues to write candidly about life and hope. Jared has stepped out of his comfort zone to open himself up to others in this. 10 years ago he wouldn't have dreamed of writing personal thoughts on a blog for the fear of criticism or feeling too vulnerable. And yet God has worked in him courage to share publicly what God has been doing inwardly in him for a long time.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Bryant. I'm so glad you were born 32 years ago, and I owe your mom a big thank you for giving birth to a nearly 12 pound baby. You have loved me in so many ways and through so many situations, and I can't wait to say amen when God tells you, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."