Life-lights are special people that touch others with varying degrees of brightness and warmth. They accept others, come alongside when encountering loss, and shine brightest when hard conversations are to be had. They see our flaws yet react with compassion, sharpening our edges, anticipating our needs with a deeper purpose.
Though we encounter life lights everyday, we have a limited number bringing depth to our life. The younger me disbelieved such a person could exist. Then, I met my husband, Greg, whose light is continuing to shine brighter with each year. Now, I believe he was mine before I met him. These life light stories are written to strengthen you and bring an appreciation of the lights God has shinning in your life.
Greg’s Own Get Away
“Didn’t you have reservations for the Boathouse on Isle of Palms, Denise?”
Greg asked in a way that was a bit disappointed. He depended on me to make the reservations, and his anxieties went up when the valet refused to park our car. It was Mother’s Day and there were no tables left on the island, or so we thought. I had planned for our church small group to enjoy a night of fellowship, and we were scrambling to find an open table. The phone buzzed and Janet had a place held at Sol, a few minutes away. “Let’s all head that way to see if we can get those seats!” I was relieved that we had found a place to land when the first call-ahead seating plan fell apart. Greg’s stress faded when all eight of us were
conversing over and looking at menus.
Dave, sitting next to Greg struck up the question, ‘How would you like to go fishing, Greg?” Greg loves to fish, and I am sure he thought maybe fishing on a large vessel offshore. Dave was asking this of a man who rarely takes a vacation and never a “guy” trip. I observed Greg’s reaction and I could see in his eyes a glimmer of hope.
“We are talking 2 ½ weeks in at a pristine, Canadian lake at the only private property in the middle of a preserve.”
Greg’s eyes grew even larger, but soon dropped thinking I just don’t see how that would be possible, but I knew amazing when I heard it.
Like Dave, Greg had grown up in the Ohio Amish corridor, and ever since we had begun in small group, his eyes had been set on Greg to be his next man-cave dweller. And I thought it was my charm that kept him coming back to our church small group each week.
“Denise, did you have a rumspringa?” Dave teased after dangling the Canada fishing carrot in front of Greg’s eyes. During our regular Sunday night meetings, Dave found out we were both from Amish background, and I had regularly given Dave a hard time about some of his habits that made it hard on his lovely wife Jane. Turnabout was fair play.
“What are you saying? Me, rumspringa? Rumspringa is the time when Amish teens sow their wild oats before taking the vow to join the church. The vow meant game over. “Well, if I did, Dave Mathis, I won’t be spilling my guts to you!” In my younger years, I wasn’t close to acting Amish.”
As the dinner was ending, Dave stepped aside as I was gathering my things, “Denise, you need to make this happen, he needs to take me up on this, it’s a chance of a lifetime for someone who enjoys fishing.”
My heart was stirred because I knew at that moment, Greg was going to Canada. Here we were in the middle of a remodel with my front room torn down to framing, my house was in the continual disarray, and life shows up to derail our house renovation project from getting completed, again. But what I was learning in this redo was that the house didn’t own us. We continued to live balanced which meant breaks, detours, and family coming first. It didn’t make any sense for Greg to up and leave the country for most of June, and I knew about day three I was going to regret it, but I learned a long time ago to listen to that small still voice inside of me agreeing with Dave.
“Greg, I want you to work out the details and go on this trip,” The words dropped from my lips as we got into the car. I heard them with my own ears, but couldn’t believe I was saying them. Since living on Congress Street, I had never stayed in the Charleston house solo and just the thought made me feel a sense of dread. Two weeks sounded like such a long time. From time to time, things went wrong at the house. There was always the inner-city crime thing, and the air conditioner breaker thing, the front room security thing, and my mind was going on and on with reasons this was so crazy to encourage Greg to do the man thing in Canada for two weeks. Did I fail to mention the 30-year anniversary thing which would happen just days before he left? This would even mean postponing any kind of trip to celebrate as a couple. What’s more, I don’t think in the 30 years of being together we had ever spent 18 nights away from one another, nothing more than an extended weekend or week-long work trip.
“It would use up all but a week of my vacation time, Denise, I am not sure committing so much time to something for me is the right thing to do, thought it does sounds pretty fantastic.” Greg knew the sacrifice I would be making because our time off for the rest of the year would be limited. The guilt didn’t last long when he was considering days on a clear, untainted lake in Ontario.
“I will ask Tommy if he can live without me for two weeks, but I am not going to get my hopes too high.”“You need this, Greg, you need to get off the grid and not have to think, unwind from all your projects, from our Freedman’s, and maybe even from me.” I threw myself in the mix to get a rise out of him. He reached over and put his hand on my arm and shook me. We both laughed. We were bonded to each other like two pieces of glued wood, but even they could use a healthy dose of separation from time to time. “Talk to Tommy to see what he can do to make it happen.” As much as I depended on Greg, Tommy, his boss, was worse than I ever was.
The next day, I got Greg’s text, “Tommy agreed, Denise, he making it happen, looks like I am headed to Ontario for the better part of June! Can you handle that staying on Congress St? Are you sure you want me to do this?”4
Mustering all the bravery I could muster I texted back, “Sure. It’s time I grow up, don’t ya think?” The idea of spending nights at the cottage. How had I become so needy and unsure that I couldn’t spend a few weeks alone. My brow tensed at the very thought. Perhaps it was all that we had been through in this inner-city neighborhood. Little by little, the neighborhood was becoming safer and I knew our neighbors. After Greg left, a few PJ days with a good book were beginning to sound like my own personal retreat. All this what if thinking was keeping me from the benefits of a house completely quiet. He continually gives of himself everyday to be sure I am well cared for, and in the end I got back a very relaxed and happy hubby! We all need time to grow in our passions, to breathe deep whatever that might look like to you. Give this gift to your spouse. As hard as it was to release my need, it strengthened both of us.