Back when I was a young man, I received a bit of counsel about marriage that I thought only applied for that time of my life.  Looking back now, I see how wise that piece of counsel was…and how it applied to me at any time in my life.  The counsel was from God in an answer to a request I had for Him.  And these three words shows me just how much He truly knows my heart, what I need…at any point of time in my life, and how I understand.

He knows me…and tailored an answer that He knew I’d understand:


In the Beginning

During my youth, I was considered a kind of social klutz…considered “weird” or “nerd” by many of my peers at the time, and that affected me to some point.  I was awkward with girls and was unsure of how to act when I was around them.  I truly envied how the popular boys and athletes were so “skilled” socially and how they’d draw crowds of adoring females.  However, as I passed through my awkward teen years, I learned to develop friendships with young ladies that were more meaningful and deep…in contrast to the superficial throngs of “adoring fans” which never really seemed satisfying to me anyway.  Still, that didn’t stop my parents from worrying about their son’s lack of dates with young women, and I’m sure they wondered whether I’d be able to marry at some point at all.

So, before going to college, I requested for a particular blessing from God…and in His answer to me (which was lengthy), he said, particularly about marriage: Live for her.  At the time, I understood this meant that I needed to prepare my life in such a way that I’d be ready for her when the time came.  I needed to earn a degree, prepare for a career, prepare my heart, improve my social skills, and fill my “social bucket” with new friends….all of which would help me prepare for married life.  It was the perfect counsel for that time in my life.

When God gives counsel, it’s spans your whole life.

ShirleyFourteen years ago, today, I married my first and only Sweetheart.  She introduced into my life a kind of satisfying happiness I had never really felt at any other time in my life as a young man, and I was thrilled!  Even today, that happiness keeps growing.  Early on, there were times when I marveled, “What have I done to deserve the blessing of being married to my wife?”  She’s more than what I’ve ever hoped to have…but God also knew she’s who He’d need to help improve me to become a better husband, a better father….one who’d seek Him and follow Him more.

As our “honeymoon period” passed and “regular life” took over, the children came, responsibilities and priorities increased, and time for myself decreased.  I struggled with balancing how to improve my relationship with my wife with all else that was required of me.  I struggled with finding my place in our marriage, my place in our family, my place at work and church, with myself, and ultimately, my place with God.

One day, as all of this weighed in my mind, God pointed my thoughts to that blessing He gave me long ago…to that very counsel He had already given me:  Live for her.  The answer to my struggles was already there.  I just had to see it differently.  How?  When He repeated the words in my mind…He said it differently….He paused:  “Live…for her.”  And then He showed me:

  • Take care of the family….for her.
  • Improve your home…for her.
  • Earn your living…for her.
  • Give up your career ambitions…for her.
  • Put aside your hobbies…for her.
  • Clean the house…for her.
  • Cook…for her.
  • Tend your garden…for her.
  • Teach your children…for her.
  • Lead your home…for her.
  • Make room…for her.
  • Take time…for her.
  • Spend time with her…for her.
  • Spend time with your kids…for her.
  • Listen…for her
  • Love…for her.

…and that list kept on going in my mind…until, finally,  He said,

Live your life…for her.

That changed everything!

I was so focused on fulfilling my needs, my wants, my goals and desires…everything…for me, that I forgot why God gave me my sweet wife to begin with:  to learn to sacrifice myself, my selfishness, all of me…me?…sacrifice me?…yes, me…for the good of someone else.  I had to learn that loving someone unconditionally meant loving without conditions, without expecting anything in return.  I needed to learn to give, to be more generous, to be grateful, to think of others, to be more considerate, to be more trusting and open, to fill another’s needs, to increase someone’s joy, to be their joy….all without expecting anything in return.  I had to learn that marriage isn’t just “about me” anymore….it’s about “WE” as well.  My love needs to grow, so, first…I need to give myself up…to stop focusing so much on me, on “what’s in it for me”.

I need to give up selfishness…for selflessness.  I have to learn to love…like God.

And God assured me many times thereafter:  All that you desire, I will give to you….(pause)…in good time.

God is wise.  He knows exactly what I need…when I need it, but He also knows that I need to do something as well to qualify for the happiness I seek.  He gave me my wife.  He knows that I need her and that she needs me.  She is God’s gift to me…a gift that loves me completely and loves naturally, a gift that improves me, a gift that gives generously, a gift that points me back to Him.  She helps me be the kind of man, the kind of husband, and the kind of father He wants me to be.  Though I still have a long way to go…I am better because of my wife.  She is truly my Angel.

And she brings joy to my life, just as He has assured me.

For these past fourteen years together, with my Wife as my loving companion, and a future together that He still holds in His hands, all that He asks of me in return for His gift is captured in three simple words:

Live…for her.

bw Omar Shirley

Happy Anniversary, my Love!