I’m the Second-Bravest Person in My House
During my heli-hike adventure that included summiting remote peaks in the wind & rain and hanging off rock faces hundreds of feet tall, I got asked a question similar to the one I get a lot in other places of the world.
“Would your wife do this?”
“Absolutely not,” I answered.
Crystal confirmed that answer a couple days later, when I texted her a picture of April & AJ, a San Francisco couple who were in the helicopter group right behind mine.
“That looks awful. I’m glad you like doing that kind of thing because I would have lost my mind.”
To my wife’s credit, she has leaned into those fears to join me on adventures. She’s repelled waterfalls with me—including one almost 17 stories tall. She’s parasailed and zip-lined and driven a snowmobile high up into the Colorado Rockies with me. She’s tried whitewater rafting and even kayaking with me, the latter of which mostly in cold, wet misery.
I don’t push Crystal to like the things that excite me. I want her to enjoy her time with me and her time away from her stressful ministry.
At the end of a long, wet climb up Mount Nimbus, I got asked the familiar question from Marianne, a doctor from British Columbia. “Does your wife do stuff like this with you?”
I mentioned some of the list you just read but then added, “She’s emotionally courageous.” That’s just one of the ways my wife is braver than I will ever be; and she’ll never have GoPro footage to prove it.
She bravely befriends.
Crystal has her sitcom-perfect circle of “besties” for going to plays and playas, but she is constantly initiating relationships with the marginalized, the abused, the confused, and the hurting. While my vacations are solitary writing sabbaticals and remote backpacking trips, she uses her vacations to visit brothels and recovery ministries in Nicaragua. She spends her evenings, mentoring both young professionals and middle school girls from tough neighborhoods.
She courageously confronts.
Crystal bears a hyper sense of justice. She wants to right wrongs, but not in a Twitter-hashtag or empathetic-Instagram-selfie kind of way. When she sees brokenness, she moves toward it. When she senses a friend creating distance, she investigates it. When truth is being twisted, she searches the Scriptures and confronts what she finds to be errant. Like a woman heading into childbirth, she prays then bolsters herself for the pain that will lead to new life.
She fearlessly forgives.
Crystal has forgiven me of more than one human should ever have to withstand. When I genuinely ask for forgiveness, though, she grants it. People have written her off, repeatedly lied to her, betrayed her trust, and taken advantage of her generosity; but she hasn’t let that keep her from investing in others—even the ones who inflicted the wounds. When I would cut bait, she casts again.
She reluctantly releases.
Crystal can read people better than I ever will. (She decodes me better than I know myself sometimes.) Candidly, I’m intimidated by her discernment and regularly consult her for relational advice. She will hold onto a cause, a disciple, and a friend longer than I will; but she also knows when to release someone to their willful trajectory. That’s not easy, especially after extended investment. But she knows that there are other women who can use the energy she’s preserving.
She selflessly sacrifices.
I’m not allowed to share details—and I rarely get details—but some of Crystal’s investment is costly. Nights spent in the apartments of hurting women, hours spent taxiing the carless, frequent trips to the emergency room, ardent text conversations late into the night. While I was writing this post, she had a free Saturday; and she spent it, photographing all day to raise money for 19 other women to attend an enrichment conference.
While Crystal will never jump out of an airplane or off a bungee platform with me, she will jump into messes. Though she may never run off a mountain in a paraglider, she will run to someone’s aide. While I’m chasing adrenaline, she’s chasing social justice.
So, the next time you think I’m the brave one of the two of us, think again.
Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com