In my wallet, tucked away for over 27 years is a picture taken in a dollar photo booth. After Tammy and I met, I could not keep a dollar in my wallet. It is a picture of two college kids, all smiles and frankly, no clue. Oh, Tammy and I knew what we wanted in life. We were sure of certain things and the unsure things we trusted to the Lord. We were in love. She did not put her arms around just anyone. She did not sit on just anyones lap in a photobooth. Our love was not yet tested. It was not yet tried and proven but it was joyful, full of life and we had a blast with one another. Our love had not earned wrinkles in this aging photograph.
We dated almost three years before marriage. We talked a lot in that time. We shared dreams and visions. We imagined what our kids would look like. We wondered where we would wind up and Alabama was never mentioned. We dreamed about how God might use us. We teased and played jokes on one another. We were yet to learn one another, accept each other and grow in grace together.
When you compare this picture with more recent ones, you can still see the boyish grin, the sweet smile on Tammy's face but there is more. There is a seasoned love that really did grow stronger with every passing day. I am not suggesting we did not struggle. But somewhere we discovered a secret. The secret is that the struggles are what makes us go deeper into the glorious place called intimacy.
She was the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. I never got over the amazement that she would be seen with me much less fall in love with me. She saw potential in me that others passed over. She saw what Michaelangelo must have seen when he looked at a rough piece of granite and said, there is a David in there somewhere. A woman is a mysterious and glorious creation of God. There are many reasons God made woman but the one I am fixated upon now, is how God shapes a man through a woman. When you look at the image on a $100 bill, if you've not seen enough of them, you will have to trust me on this one, but the image is that of a drolish man, named Benjamin Franklin. That image is taken from a painting commissioned by Madame Brillion de Jouy, while Franklin was a diplomat in Paris. She noted with pleasure that Franklin, whom she considered to be one of the wisest men who ever lived is wise because, "He allows his wisdom to be perpetually broken against the rocks of femininity." Praise the Lord for a woman. Her touch, her tenderness, her sensitivity, her maternal ways, her joy, her total otherness than men. Praise God for the day He created her. His genius amazes me. At the risk of sounding like a college freshman with his first thesaures, I am in awe of what God created when He made her.
It may sound rather ego-centric to say this. I run the risk of making it sound as if I am the sun and she was a surrounding planet. Not at all. I had the joy of her. I was given a great gift in Tammy as my friend. At the end of many great days, surrounded by many great people, it was always my joy to go home with her. I remember standing in a United Nations reception in New York shortly after 9/11, the year I served as First Vice President of the SBC and I looked at her across the room and I thought, she goes home with me. I have been delightlfully broken upon the rocks of her femininity.
God sent Tammy to me as an artist and God took her hand and in the most gentle way I believe He wispered, lets help Ed. I loved loving her but I loved being loved by her even more. No one was more honest with me. No one knew me like Tammy. She captivated me and she completed my broken, raged edges. Many mornings we sat in a quiet room with a cup of Starbucks and talked the morning into day. We respected each other.
So when you look at us in more recent photographs, you see earned wrinkles, my fuller cheeks and less hair, four wiser eyes, some ravages of the aging process but look close, notice the smile. The smiles are undeminished by the pains, undaunted by the terror, and unending in their joy.
I rise to bless an artist, a woman, my beloved wife, Tammy!
P.S. You can also see our kids.