On the occasion of our 30th wedding anniversary: My wife is awesome

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hirty years ago a woefully unprepared young guy stood at the front of a the “old auditorium” at Mount Zion Baptist Church (Jonesboro, GA) to take as his wife a trusting young lady. He has since been harassed for wearing a white tux with tails. She looked beautiful in a traditional wedding dress.

They had endured many sessions of pre-marriage counseling, though could hardly have been less prepared for what lay ahead. Rather like when a would-be pastor leaves seminary for the ministry, or a medical student shows up for his or her first ER rotation.

Thirty years is a very long time that flies like a falcon in a steep dive. I am unsure adequate counseling exists to ready a man and woman for the merger that is marriage. “Two become one flesh,” in the biblical parlance. Losing one’s self to the other, for the other and in the other might also work.

Image: Marty Duren

Image: Marty Duren

Sonya Duren has given more across the span of these three decades than seems possible for one human to give. She has sacrificed much “success” as defined by some, but in doing so has gained a worthy, honorable name.

“Who can find a capable wife?” asked the king’s mother in the 31st Proverb. “She is far more precious than jewels.” I wonder if the king’s mother was wagging her finger in lecture mode. Regardless, she was right. A capable wife has an immeasurable worth.

We married young and became parents quickly. Our firstborn arrived two weeks before our first anniversary. (Yes, the math works.) Barely ready for marriage we found ourselves in parenthood. I often did and do poorly. Sonya almost always did and does well.

Three children, a number of moves, career changes (for me, hers remained), and years later, I can say: my wife is awesome! Most of the people I know believe we have a successful marriage. Some have indicated they wish their marriage were like ours. One naive teenager called it “perfect.”

Kids these days.

While not perfect I feel it is excellent, even enthralling, and it has been worth it. Both the worth and the excellence are directly attributable to Sonya’s patient faithfulness. This post is not intended to say, “I wouldn’t be where I am without her.” It is intended to say, “I wouldn’t be without her.”

She has always been a stream of cool water refreshing our family. Whether teaching school, preparing amazing meals, learning to reupholster furniture, refinish furniture, becoming a power-seller on Ebay, landscaping, gardening, interior design, demonstrating spiritual leadership to our children and women in our ministries, being a constant encouragement to me, a remarkable pastor’s wife, praying for and with me, helping me think through multiple moving parts at any given life moment, bandaging knees, killing spiders, giving massages and ten thousand other things, God has done a good, yes a great thing for me.

She knows when to let me rant and when to say, “Okay, now you listen to me.” She knows when I’m slipping into depression often before I see it. She knows my eating weirdness and never complains when meal choices are without preference. But she’s such a great cook it never matters what she prepares!

Hundreds could rise up and call her “blessed.” Women who have spent scant time with her realize immediately how special she is. How much more those who know her well.

I do not know how a husband could love a wife more than I love her. I cannot imagine a woman who deserves being loved any more. It’s possible, I suppose, but I cannot imagine it. The awesome thing about a 30th anniversary is the very real chance of thirty more years to try and love her in the extreme. To finally and consistently love her as Christ loves His church.

I will not create a comparison game between men’s wives by saying Sonya is the best woman in the world. But I will say she is the best woman in mine.

Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.