Nathan and I have been married for over fourteen years. I love the growth, change and depth that has come in that time. I love that we understand each other so well, accept each other “as is”, but still pray for changes we hope to see in each other. It makes me so excited for what more years of our marriage will look like.
Something interesting happened recently that helped me notice and appreciate the growth in our relationship. Sometime this summer, several weeks back, he hurt my feelings in a big way. And wouldn’t you know that today I have no idea what he said and did to hurt my feelings? But I do remember how I felt. I felt unappreciated and unimportant because of some things that he said and did. And I let him know this. I wasn’t angry and yelling, but I stated my case in a calm way. He immediately knew I was really hurting and that it was justified. He heard me out, thought about it a while, and then told me how sorry he was. But because he “gets me”, he knew that I’d need some time to recover. Basically in silence. There was nothing more to say here right now. I expressed how I felt, he validated my feelings and apologized. I wasn’t angry, he wasn’t angry and we both knew this would be the end of the problem and neither of us would bring it up again. But he left me alone and gave me some space.
By space, I mean we were speaking but only really about the necessary conversations to make our family and household function. I remember that I was about to leave for a meeting, and that I fixed him something for lunch before I went. I thought in my heart of other times in the not-too-distant past when I would have been mad and shown that by not making his lunch. I remember working in the kitchen and praying for him, that he would better understand me so as to not hurt me like that. I prayed for myself, that I would quickly forgive him and show him only love. And then I left for several hours to do whatever was on the schedule that day.
When I returned to the house later, it was nearing dinner time and there was lots to do in the kitchen. There was still a little space needed between Nathan and me, as I was still processing my feelings and fully forgiving him. I moved about the kitchen and found a little paper on the tray of the toaster oven. It was a small, white, typed out sentence kind of like the one in a fortune cookie. It said “Reasons I love Katy 2/21”, and then it said something nice about me. Hmm. I thought at first he’d been writing things down for a long time and this particular thought was from February 21. But then I started finding another, and then another note. The others said 14/21 or 7/21. I finally understood that there must be 21 notes. (The number 21 has always been one of our special numbers.) I found them everywhere in the kitchen: the coffee maker, junk drawer, oven (that one turned brown during the preheat). I said nothing to him about it and tucked the handful of notes away in my bathroom.
I could certainly feel my heart softening. Later, I found more notes in my jewelry drawer, makeup, medicine and so on. At the end of the day I think I’d found around half of the notes. The next day, all was forgiven and yesterday’s hurt feelings were all forgotten. I found a few more of the notes, and even discreetly starting looking in places I thought they might be. And over the course of the next week or so, I’d found most of them. These notes were about everything. Some were about how I looked, some about things I do specifically for him, some about me as a mother, things he admires about me, reasons he’s proud of me. This was good stuff people. He didn’t find this stuff online or in a Hallmark card. This was the real deal.
Yesterday I was reorganizing my shoes, and guess what I found? Under one of my shoes, there was another “Reasons I love Katy”. I read it and smiled. I tucked it away with the others in their secret special place. But first I read them all again. I held on to each word of affirmation from the one human who knows and loves me best in the whole world. I let the words each sink in anew. I thought back through the whole scenario and remembered the prayers I had prayed that day. I see how clearly God answered them both that day and also over time. I thought about how neither of us has ever spoke again of the incident (which I can’t even remember) and we’ve still never said a word about the notes to each other. I counted the notes, put them in number order and noticed that there are only 20. Number 16 is still out there somewhere waiting to renew me at just the appointed time.