A standing joke between me and my wife is to say something like “I love you just the way you are, so don’t ever change…at all…ever.” (you probably had to have been there:-). So, for instance, say that I’ve just flexed in front of Liz, she would then bat her eyelashes and respond, “oooh, very nice. I’m so impressed. I love you just the way you are right now. Don’t ever change.” Of course the joke is that it’s impossible to stay the way you are. Beauty really is only skin deep and must inevitably change with age and happenstance. Further, any love based on this beauty is bound to be short lived whether you’re a runway model or a 32-year-old pastoral assistant with graying hair.
So why would I talk about fading beauty on Valentine’s Day? It’s not because I think there is anything deficient in Liz, I love her and love to look at her and love to be with her and love to talk to her and I love her active and engaging mind. But more than all of those things, I love how she is. Or more precisely how she is always becoming something else entirely. From the very beginning of our relationship (14 years ago) her beauty was evident. She was serious about Christianity. She knew that God and his glory were worth pursuing and that’s what she was about. Further, she is the one who taught me that you can become more beautiful with age. She taught me that it has to happen hour by hour, day after day, year-in and year-out. I can almost hear her saying, “You’re always becoming the person you are going to be.”
This couldn’t be more Scriptural or more true. I am, of course, talking about the beauty of 1 Peter 3. He tells us of a heart-deep beauty that doesn’t fade with time. In the context he mentions a gentle, quiet, and fearless spirit while submitting to an unbelieving husband (1 Pet 3:1–6)—something I take to be an application of the inner beauty principle. The word he uses for these traits is “imperishable.” What the word entails, among other things, is that these are the qualities that will outlast death. Every other instance of the word speaks either of God or of what you will receive after death (inheritance, promises, a new body), but your heart, to the extent that it is like Christ, will last from this life to the next. It’s proverbial wisdom to say “you can’t take anything with you.” But the change that God works in our hearts before death will come with us, it will be part of the glorified us! Talk about investing in a beauty that will last!
All of this brings me back to today and the purpose of this post. Liz, I love you for all your temporal beauties to be sure, but you are truly stunning in your constant pursuit of God and his glory. Thank you for always changing to be more like Christ for 14+ years, and it is to this perpetual, beautiful changing (the eternal you) that I will say “I love you just the way you are, so don’t ever change…at all…ever.”