For which of God’s gifts are we most thankful? Such questions we typically ask ourselves every year, which is an important part of the celebration of our Thanksgiving national holiday.
For me, the answer was easy.
“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.” (Proverbs 18:22)
My wife, Nichelle, is the most important human in my life. (I described her as the most important person in my life, but David corrected me with, “Dad, Jesus is supposed to be the most important person in your life.”) She is, as one might guess, the one for whom I thank God more often than anything else.
11“The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. 12She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:11–12)
How much she means to me was made even clearer about three weeks ago. Since last spring, Nichelle had been steadily improving after a long period of being nearly incapacitated by symptoms relating to fibromyalgia. See the posts entitled “What’s Wrong with Nichelle?” and “The Twins are Back,” for a more complete history. But three weeks ago, over the course of a couple of days, Nichelle went from virtually symptom-free to nearly completely debilitated. First, I was angry; then for days I was heartbroken at all that seemed about to be lost.
As Nichelle had regained her strength since last spring, she put into action the things she’d hoped to do. She learned to paint. She learned to sew. She prototyped an absolutely stunning tabletop fountain, hoping to market them and other crafts via ebay. She tackled computer projects for me (a field that had always scared her), rejoined the choir at church, and got back onto the special music schedule. Not bad for a single summer!
When her symptoms had become so severe last winter, I had to start planning and operating my life without her at my side. I never liked it. We might spend weeks looking forward to an activity, and do everything possible to rest up and prepare for it, only to determine on the day of the activity that Nichelle would not be physically able to attend. There were times when the exaustion hit that she would fall asleep in mid-sentence, even when she was doing the talking. A “brain fog” would reduce her normally sharp mind to one that couldn’t record a doctor’s appointment correctly.
17“She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. 25Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.” (Proverbs 31:17, 25)
My wife has incredible strength. Few people know the challenges she has overcome in her life (and, unfortunately, I cannot disclose the most significant ones here; even I was not aware of the extent of a few of them until relatively recently—suffice it to say my wife has had significant trauma inflicted by a number of people in her life). Reading our posts on fibromyalgia will give you some clue to the challenges of everyday life, especially in the past year. Even when every day is a battle, she is almost never discouraged.
Other people use negative things that have happened to them or harm that has come to them as an excuse for failure or their own evil. Nichelle, without a trace of anger, uses them as an example on how not to live, and confidently pursues whatever God has planned for her.
Someone asked me recently what there was about Nichelle that attracted me to her. I distinctly remember the first time I saw her. She walked by in church, and I thought, “Wow!” She was beatiful, but there was much more. Even then her strength of character, devotion to the Lord, and compassion for others were evident. We spent a couple of years working in church ministries together, and the more I got to know her, the more I wished she would go out with me. (I tried for about a year and a half, but couldn’t get her to even notice me.) There were other things, too. She laughed at my jokes! She made every experience we shared more enjoyable. She made denim look classy.
When she moved out of her parents’ house to live with our close friends the Flints, they told her, “I hope you like Doug Wilcox, because he’s over here all the time.” Then I finally got her to notice me. Not many months later we were engaged, and married a [very long] year after that.
“Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.” (Proverbs 31:23)
She holds our lives together and held me together ten years ago, during the six month period my as-yet-untreated anxiety disorder probably crossed the border to nervous breakdown. I cannot imagine how I might have fared without her undying support. Whatever good I may accomplish in my own life, she will share equally in the credit.
“She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.” (Proverbs 31:20)
Compassion has driven her life. She is a perfect counterpoint to my empathetically-challenged soul, knowing the grace that God has bestowed upon our lives, the glorious change of His second birth, and always wanting to share that with others.
13“She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. 14She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. 15She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. 16She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. 27She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” (Proverbs 31:13–16, 27)
Nichelle is an excellent parent, and manages a complex, frenetic household with surprising aplomb. (My experiences in just doing the grocery shopping for her convince me that I am best left in the world of computers.) She can tolerate playing “Candyland” or “Chutes and Ladders” with the kids without rolling her eyes, while devastating me when it comes to Scrabble. She teaches the children in dozens of ways throughout the day, and looks after their welfare using her super Mom powers and 360-degree vision.
“Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:31)
There are so many other things to list! I see the evidence of her help every day. She picks out my clothes, cuts my hair, provides my meals, manages my appointments, and sees to it that I don’t stay up all night playing Civ IV. She is a constant encouragment to me spiritually and emotionally. She continually demonstrates to me the power of prayer, and is a model of unwavering faith.
“She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” (Proverbs 31:26)
Few would believe this, but we almost never argue. I’d like to claim that this is due to my own nurturing spirit, but it is more due to her spirit of cooperation. (Also, I have learned over the years, that if we do disagree about something, I am almost never the one who is correct.)
I love the shared jokes and common exchanges we have. Some are just so memorable. Years ago, I commented, “You know, I’m not saying you are, but if you wanted to be a nag, you’d be a good one.” She responded, “Well, I wouldn’t have to nag you if you’d do something the first ten times I ask you to.” We still laugh about that exchange. Others are just plain sappy, like how we often IM: LYMZ, our abbreviation for I love you moresey. (Hey, I warned you it was sappy.)
She’s made me a better, more complete, and well-rounded person. With her, I get to be the super hero little boys dream of becoming. Always, I bask in her love and affection.
Our children are gorgeous, too, thanks to her genetic input.
25“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 28So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.” (Ephesians 5:25, 28a)
If only all God’s commands were this easy to follow!
28“Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. 29Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. 30Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:28–30)
“How beautiful and how delightful you are, My love, with all your charms!” (Song of Solomon 7:6, NASB)
(Mmmmmmmmmmm. I could go on about those charms, but I’ll keep this post appropriate for children.)
Nichelle, I love you.