Thursday, September 20, 2007

Before and After

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!

Ed Litton

P.S. You can also see our kids.


Anonymous said...

Pastor Ed,

As I read your blog tonight (while picking our KidGrid music for October)a song came on my Windows Media player which was playing the background. This is a song I've sung in many weddings, but it was amazing to hear the lyrics while I read your blog.

"God before us
God beside
God within us abide
God in Heaven and in this place
Father we commit to You this day

God in pleasure
God in pain
God will ever remain
God in gladness
God in strife
Father we commit to You our lives

For we know that You are faithful
Through the stillness and the storm
For You've been with us from the start
Father we commit to You our hearts"

It's neat to see you and Tammy at the start of it all. God certainly brought you through a wonderful life together. You both have blessed so many people.

You are loved!

Heather Messick

Anonymous said...

Pastor Ed,
I can't help but think that these writings you've done since the day of Tammy's death should be gathered into a book that would be a comfort to others suffering the loss of a loved one. God has certainly gifted you not only with the spoken word but with the written word. You are an absolute blessing to me.
Teresa Callan

Patricia said...

Beautifully written.

Teresa Graham said...

Pastor Ed,

Thank you for journaling your walk with grief. It is another evidence of God's work in and through you.

Today I posted some thoughts about Tammy on my own blog. I pray it ministers to those who read it.


Henry said...

Pastor, through your loss, God is helping me in mine. Three years ago my 25 year old son Bryan was killed my an drunken driver. Your recent blog's are no doubt a word from God to all of us who hurt. I don't understand why my son had to die but I know God is in control. I'm sorry I didn't get to meet Tammy, she was a very special blessing to our church. I'm proud to call you my Pastor. There isn't enough time or space to tell you how God has used you in my life through your preaching. There isn't a day that goes by that my thoughts turn to my son and how much I miss him. But I can say It is well with my soul.

God bless,


AmberG said...

Revelation 7:16-18 (English Standard Version)
16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 17For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

God Bless You.
We send our love,
Landon and Amber Gaines

Nicole Salter said...

I'm so thankful that my parents raised me in a church led by such a godly man. So many times, I hear Christians say that we are to praise God through the rain. I have a hard time trusting God in hard times. Thank you for trusting God. Your faith is ministering to me in so many ways.

Nicole Salter

widow in more ways than 1 said...

Dear Pastor Ed,
My story ended Sept.19,2004 at 2:30am. On a Sunday morning, my husband saw the face of God and went to his heavenly home. I became a widow at 43. We have 2 children, a boy 3 and a girl 7. My story as a happily married woman of God ended and have another tomorrow as a widow. I knew God's hand has always been upon my life and never wanted to live a day without him as my Lord and Saviour.
I don't understand why and how to tell my children that we trust God, he loves us so much. People don't treat you the same anymore. You don't think of yourself as single, but as married still. My church family has hurt me the most. I got more kindness from non-believers than believers. When this began, my life was broken, I turned to a couple from FBNM to help talk to my little girl. I had prayed & prayed for word's to comfort and wisdom for her. She asked to talk to them because they knew her daddy and had a kind heart. After 2 visits, I was told that my husband was dead and I was alive. I had to go on with life and get through it. My face is ever before God and ask the Holy Spirit to comfort us with his words. Three years later and we are looling for the next tomorrow that will bring us closer to Our Lord's return with his Saint's.
Bitter?yes Joy? only in the joy of my salvation and the children the Lord BLessed us with. Forgiveness toward those words from church family that crushed us spiritually? Yes,because they know not what they do.

On a Sunday-sr