a love song for a quiet man

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I remember the exact moment I knew.

We had been dating for less than three weeks, and an old flame had just arrived in town. The old flame was exotic and romantic, a dancer and sonnet-quoter. He said wild, passionate things which made me feel wild, confused things. And then, there was the quiet, new guy – who didn’t say much, who didn’t quote poetry, who didn’t dance. But he was present. And he encouraged. And with him, I felt at home. He met Old Flame’s verbal barbs with gentle words. He waited patiently while the storm raged on.

And so it was, driving past a windmill on the leaward slopes of Table Mountain, that I knew. This, THIS, was the man Ephesians 5 was talking about: the one who could love self-sacrificially, whose behavior was not selfish but aimed at the other’s flourishing.

This was the man I should marry.

Ten years ago today, we did just that. The quiet man and I said our “I do’s”.

It didn’t take long before the quiet man’s quietness became frustrating. It seemed passive; neglectful even. For a chatty girl who placed a high value on “talking things through”, his silence in the face of conflict was infuriating. His quietness was sometimes hurtful: I felt unseen, dismissed, forgotten at times.

We faced decisions, and I wondered whether we were on the same team. We faced opportunities, and I wondered how he could just let them pass by. His quietness seemed like a failure to lead, and I feared it would result in a failure to thrive. He is a gifted man, a brilliant thinker – but his quietness meant he was slow to assert himself. In his quietness, he was overlooked – by others, and by me.

(Forgive me, love.)

But the years have gone by, and the children have come, and on this tenth birthday of our little family – I am overcome with gratitude for his quiet strength. His quietness has meant our home is a harbor: where the waters are still even when the surrounding waves are unrelenting. His quietness has meant safety: I do not fear caprice or wrath or selfishness from him. His quietness is not weakness, it is meekness: a willingness to change diapers at 2am, to weather my moods without snarky retaliation, to return kindness for insult, to serve rather than be served. I know now I was called to love and serve a quiet man, whose passivity in some things does not mean he lacks passion in others.

I do not love him despite his quietness. I love him all the more now for his quietness. This quiet man has been as Jesus to me: a stalwart, an anchor, a bulwark; and I am so very grateful to the God who saw fit to entrust us to each other.

This is my love song for my quiet man, whose kindness has spoken louder than words ever could.