When I spent several weeks reporting in a combat zone two years ago, courage was a common topic of conversation.
“How do you respond when you go outside the wire and you realize you’re being shot at for the first time?” “As an unarmed civilian reporter, can you keep your cool that close to danger?”
While I didn’t collect any gnarly war stories myself that trip, I heard quite a few from other reporters. The consensus: you don’t know how you’ll respond to a brush with mortality until you encounter it.
That’s why I say I would gladly die for my husband … I think … I suspect … I hope. I truly wish and pray that I would be able to spring into action to haul him from a burning building or take a bullet for him without a second thought, and I’m pretty certain he would do the same for me.
But the thing is, we won’t know what sort of stuff we’re made of in the heroism department until such a terrible and desperate situation arises (and I pray it never does). If we’re waiting for an opportunity to perform some grand gesture to prove our love to each other, we could be waiting a long time.
Meanwhile, I miss out on little opportunities to demonstrate my love for my husband. Constantly.
Every time I demand something of him without saying “please” or “thank you,” I’ve whiffed an opportunity. Every time I don’t tidy my clothes in the bedroom when I know he prefers it clean, I’ve let another one go by. Every time I listen to him with only half an ear and nod absentmindedly, I’m choosing myself over my love for him.
Regardless of what the movies tell us, life has very few pits of quicksand and perilous cliff-hanger rescues. Life is in the mundane moments, and all those times we are just so tired and can’t really be bothered to make an effort. More than any moment of heroism, how we respond to our spouse when we’re just not feeling it is an indicator of the stuff our love is made of. That’s when it’s difficult and unglamorous, and doesn’t offer much to brag about.
But even though I’m terrible at being consistent with these little acts of love and service, I’m finding that the will it takes to do them is a muscle that can flex and grow with use. When I get into the habit of taking little opportunities to serve and bless my husband and extending grace when I’d rather be annoyed, it becomes easier and more natural.
And sure, I may never be called on to take a bullet for my husband, but no doubt we’ll encounter tougher days as life wears on. We may have to care for each other during long periods of sickness and weakness. We may have to be patient and supportive through depression, unemployment, grief, or a dozen other hardships. And these little acts of love — the seemingly insignificant ones — may be preparing us for a situation we haven’t even anticipated.
We can’t really know what the future may bring or how we’ll respond in a moment of crisis. But I can choose to seize this moment to show my spouse that he’s worth loving in the little ways.
Flickr/ Daniel Gregory