An Easy Decision within Eight Seconds…
Sobbing and unable to speak clearly, I mustered out what I could. “It isn’t going to work hunny. My liver is not a match. I will die if we try. Or I will be put on the transplant list immediately.” She was silent and as shocked as I was. We were both devastated.
Finding the strength to say the ultimate curveball I went for it unsure how she would respond. I explained, “Hunny there is something I want to tell you. They said I could be a match for a pediatric child who needs a liver donation. A child who isn’t going to make it.” Anxiously I prepared for her response.
Would she disagree? Would she be hesitant for a stranger? Would it be emotionally just too much after going through everything we’ve been through in trying to save my mom? What would she say? I knew I couldn’t force a decision like this. We needed to be unified.
Her blunt and quick response to this new twist in our story illustrates why I love this woman more than any other on this planet. It was a response born out of conviction, boldness, and deep compassion. With zero hesitation she said, “Of course we can do this. This is the Gospel of Jesus.” I said, “That’s exactly what I thought! I have zero hesitation. I just wanted to confirm with you.”
And that was it. We took a mutual deep breath and said, “Ok… we are doing this.” The decision took a whole 8 seconds for us. Call it foolish, reckless, or unwise (as some have). We call it compassion and following the path God laid before us. A life is a life and all life is precious.
In this post I want to give some background to Michelle whom I have the esteemed honor of calling my wife. Michelle has always been my best friend and soul mate. However, through our 13 years of marriage I have given an abundance of reasons for Michelle to throw in the towel. Not because of infidelity or abuse. But rather the quirks and challenges of me as a human being. I have not been an easy man to be married to and walk beside. I will gladly admit that.
Before getting married I never dealt with many of the issues which both blinded and stalled my development. Issues I was bringing in as baggage. There were bags stacked upon bags. Because of this I was always stunted in my ability to communicate and articulate my own emotions.
Along with this I have always had a fear that I would be forgotten, abandoned, or that those I love will walk out of my life. Sadly, it has been Michelle who has born the brunt of so many of these unfortunate parts of my insecure identity. Through counseling and lots of prayer as well as mentors by my side I have grown as a man and husband. But the journey hasn’t always been easy.And through it all, she never gave up on me. Not once.
A Radical Table Flipper
A little more about my wife and then back to our journey and her role in this story:
Michelle is a fierce and reckless follower of Jesus. But sadly she has often been misunderstood. She is not the cookie cutout, Beth Moore Bible Study loving, etsy shop opening, clean mouth straight laced Betty Crocker type. No offense to any who are. That just isn’t Michelle. To be fair, that isn’t me either. But what she is, to me at least, is as close a representation to the Historical Jesus you can get barring some of the obvious differences (beard, gender, Arabic skin tone, ability to speak Hebrew).
When I think of Jesus this is what I see and read: Jesus was a table flipping, wine making/drinking, “righteous-anger” driven, justice loving, people supporting kind of man. He didn’t give injustice the time of day. He wanted it dealt with yesterday. He longed for Gods Kingdom to come in the dark and dangerous places. Where there was no way, he found a way. Where there was a wrong, he sought to bring the Kingdom of God to make it right. His entire mission and drive in life was “other’s focused.”
I see so much of that when I see my wife and our marriage. She (and we) goes where others will not go. She refuses to give up on anyone who needs hope. She will have the time of her life with the unbeliever who is raw versus the professional Christians who’s noses reach the heavens. She will gladly spend more time with an excluded individual who is struggling to find community because of their LGBTQ+ sexuality and being ostracized because of it. Versus the one who has the squeaky clean life with a perfect “Quiet Time” record who just finished the latest podcast of Steven Furtick, while sipping a latte, and listening to Hillsong Worship. Once more, to be fair, that goes for the both of us.
She’s been told she is a “badass.” Multiple times by multiple people. We aren’t sure if it was meant to be a compliment but we both took it as such. When we see Jesus in the Gospels was he not also “badass?” I too have been called a badass but she takes the cake. Easily.
She will put herself in situations no one else would, to see something happen which no one else could. Whether its personal danger, a risky situation, or something that would be offensive to the safe and comfortable religious folks—if it glorifies Jesus and brings value to a person; she’s doing it. Even if the “scared, comfortable, and/or lukewarm” warn her otherwise.
loves likes a good glass of wine and will most definitely curse if it’s the only appropriate word. Lets be real. Sometimes no other word will due. She will give everything she has to embody Jesus in this life. One time we discussed how each of us would want to be remembered. She communicated in her typical way. She said, “I just want to be remembered to loving Jesus and loving people. Actually, making an impact.” Simple. Brief. Non-flashy. Christ-centered. Did I mention she loves Pac and Biggie?
That’s a really simple snapshot of Michelle. She is a passionate Christian and walks the talk. But it has been her actions this past year which have made this recent decision easy.
When Life and Ministry Got Rough…
Five months ago we experienced serious turmoil in the church we lead. We both love leading our church. However, we both loathe church drama and politics. Our passion is leading a church to accomplish the things Jesus accomplished. During this time, we had lies being spread about us, our marriage, me personally, and so on. We saw actions from Christians that you wouldn’t expect as followers of Jesus. We had people we loved (and always will) leaving us right and left. They walked out of our lives quickly and swiftly. It hurt deeply.
Thankfully, Gods love and grace carried us through to a place of healing and confidence moving forward. We only see what is ahead and what is ahead excites us more than ever. We couldn’t be more excited to lead our church following this journey of recovery. God has huge things in store for our city.
But it was in this season of loneliness and pain that I broke down. One night in our garage by our wood stove I began sobbing. It was just too much. I was ready to walk away from all of it. Michelle walked over to me. She gently placed her hands on my shoulders and began to pray over me. She will never know how her words brought tremendous healing in my life. This pattern would repeat for some time. Even when I was difficult towards her—her approach never changed. Always loving and full of grace. She was an extension of the love of Jesus when I felt the furthest away from Him.
It was in this same season we received the news regarding my mothers need for a liver transplant. And there through each tear and restless night Michelle was there to give me encouragement and help me/us stay focused on solutions: i.e. live liver donation to save her life.
And so her response on the phone that day in regards to this child wasn’t a surprise. That’s just who she is.
She wants a part in helping a child get a second shot at life.
A second shot at running and skinning their knees.
Another chance to run and jump high.
A shot at having a year where there are no more hospital visits, painful tests, or fear of death. She, like myself, wants to do whatever we can to walk out the good news of Jesus Christ for this child that we do not know.
And so for all those reasons and more, I am thankful for her. She takes my breath away with her appearance. Her mind and heart are bottomless; full of wisdom and insight. Her convictions move me deeply and help me become a better human being. Her challenges lift me to new standards of excellence I didn’t know were possible. And her passion to make wrong things right in this world deeply inspires me and our three children.
If you read this long, you deserve an award. Seriously. I am straight up bragging on my wife. Kudos to you. And I admit, I think I wrote this one more for me. But to be fair, I believe every spouse ought to communicate just how much of a better human being they are because of their other half. You and I aren’t promised tomorrow. Why wait?
Honor Your Partner
Think about your partner, spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc.
Recognize the beauty in what they bring to the table. Honor that.
Appreciate who they are and their quirks. Keep a sense of humor.
Thank them for their contribution to your convictions and beliefs. Grow because of them.Thank them for their abundant grace and mercy that was displayed when you least deserve it. Return the favor.
At each turn through this long journey I have Michelle my wife to thank for a large part of who I am. While she hates the limelight (as well as this blog post I am sure) I knew it was still important for me to communicate to all who are following our story that I owe a lot of who I am to my best friend.
Since I have been asked many times “why are you doing this?” or “How can you do this?” I felt it would only be right to explain the other person in my life who has had equal say in this fun new adventure. She too will be carrying a large burden of this surgery and recovery.
To be clear, she would be the first to tell you she is imperfect and has a long way to go. And Who doesn’t? I know I do. But… in my eyes, as her husband and soul mate, I see a gift given to me that I will cherish forever. Someone who I am still head over heels in love with. It has always been and always will be her and I against the world. Especially these past 8 months. But shouldn’t every true marriage be this way?
Thank you Michelle for helping me become a better man and Jesus follower. For being the wife I could of only dreamed of
Also, thank you in advance for the many days of pain and fussiness which surely lie ahead. I found an APP that rings with each press when I need something. So… that’ll be fun.
I love you babe.
4 thoughts on “The Strength of My Wife…”
Thank you Noah this blog reminds me that even after 46 years of marriage we still have to make our time together special and remember the person we married. We met Michelle for the first time when we mentored her and her friend at Alpha and she made an impact then. You are both blessed to have each other and be able to be strong for each other when the other one is down. You are a very brave family with such strong parents. We love and miss you and are constantly praying . Thank you for you xxxx
I read this entire article. It was honest and relative. God bless you for the courage to extend the life of someone you do not know. Also you will not know how many you are encouraging by sharing about your marriage.
Noah I am glad to have a man of God who loves his wife so much as my pastor. I believe this season of your life is going to grow you both in a way that only God can. It will change you both and bring you closer than ever as a couple and family. Looking to see what God has in store for you down the road. Something great is coming from this season of live. When you look back all you be able to say is WOW! GOD IS AMAZING!
Pastor Noah, Thank you for sharing so transparently your heart. It is that transparency that breaks through the religiosity that most have come to know in our faith, that holds us hostage to a life of unrealistic expectations and molds. It is in our imperfect journey, as we learn to deeper and deeper trust the Lord that He takes us to places and experiences that we would have never dreamed of. Experiences most might not understand or with worldly wisdom condemn us for. I love that love is the motivational factor for all of this, and I love that you did not hesitate to respond the way the Lord has called you to respond (and how fortunate you are that Michelle is on the same spiritual journey with you.) Thank you that you and Michelle are living out the gospel in a very real way, that many only preach about. I believe that the ripple effect of this radical love will exceed anything that you will ever be able to tangibly see or know. As I personally have been so disillusioned and let down by the faith community in the past and present, your example gives me hope and belief that this real and radical Christian faith does exist. Thank you for inspiring, encouraging and believing in what God has called Travis and I too. (Even in the first moments after our tragedy and me sharing my heart.) Thank you for your great example of faith. We love you both and will be praying with your family as you walk this journey ahead.