The Birthday Sticky Notes

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I didn’t mention Valentine’s Day on February 14 because that would have been too expected, but today is the day.  Over the years I’ve seen some awfully nice gifts delivered to women for Valentine’s Day.  It’s actually easy for me not to be too concerned about Valentine’s Day gifts because I am not a gift person.  Even before the wreck, there were very few tangible items I ever wanted, and now, it’s hard not to look around and be blown away by the excess in which our culture lives.  My lack of desire for gifts works out well for my husband.  As some of you may know from reading my newspaper column over the years, the first Christmas we were married, Chad Jagger gifted me an electric screw driver.

That’s when we stopped exchanging gifts.

So this past December when my birthday rolled around, I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting any gift.  And when I walked into the kitchen (seriously, what a gift to be able to walk anywhere), I noticed a hot pink sticky note on the counter.

There in my husband’s scratchy, almost illegible handwriting, was the following:  “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMY J. JAGGER!  I LOVE YOU!”

That was a fantastic way to start the day.  I opened the refrigerator and found a second hot pink sticky note.  I was delighted.  It was going to be a sort of a game and I immediately began to keep my eyes peeled for little notes around the house.  One of my favorite notes read, “Happy Birthday!  I’m glad I chose you.”  One of the sassy notes read, “I still love you even if you are an old woman.”  (I’m a few years older than my husband and he n-e-v-e-r lets me forget it!)

I was so thankful my husband acknowledged his love for me is a choice. He chose me.  I chose him.  In fact, our spouse is the only family member of which we have a choice.  We literally have no other choice when it comes to family.  And with each choice we make in life there will be positives and negatives.

The divorce rate for couples who go through a tragedy in life is high.  Very high.  Chad Jagger and I completely understand why and cast zero stones.  Just like everything in our life, our marriage, too, has been rocky at times after the wreck.  It’s not talked about in polite Christian circles and I don’t understand why.  Wouldn’t it be helpful for other couples to know they are not the only ones struggling with tragedy and working diligently at keeping their marriage strong in the midst of chaos?

Not to be Captain Obvious, but men and women handle situations differently, including the immensely difficult ones.  If you think Chad and I have grieved, forgiven, accepted, and handled our wreck and our daughter’s paralysis all in sync, you’ve never spent much time with a member of the opposite sex.  There have been days when it has been almost impossible to breathe with the multiple stresses and never-ending cycle of it all.  We’ll be the first to admit, tragedy takes a huge toll on a marriage – even a marriage that was on pretty stable ground before life literally crashed.

Maybe the world would laugh at the simplistic nature of my birthday sticky notes.  Maybe they wouldn’t be satisfactory to some.  They certainly fit our budget, and they served as a wonderful encouragement.  Before the wreck, my husband and I took everything for granted – even our marriage.  Like everything about our new life, we now realize our marriage can’t run on autopilot.  It’s work.  Some of the time the work is difficult and painful.  Tears flow and tempers rise.  Some of the time the work is blessed and beautiful.  Laughter flows and contentment rises.

The hot pink birthday sticky notes may not impress the masses, but to be reminded that your spouse still chooses you in the middle of less-than-ideal circumstances? That brings life to the soul.  He and I have learned the hard way; I can’t wait until he decides to remind me of his love and he can’t wait until I remind him.  I can’t base my love for him on how I feel at the moment and vice versa.

None of this costs money, but it all comes at enormous expense.  Very rarely do Christian couples speak of how hard it is to stay committed when the storms of life rail around them.  I hope this acknowledgement has encouraged at least one of you.  Live by the choice and not by the feeling of the moment.  It’s a reoccurring theme.  Our feelings can be oh . . . so . . . deceptive.  Perhaps instead, we can all grab a sticky note.  I have it on good authority that a sticky note of encouragement and love can really make a difference in someone’s life.

Until next Wednesday, Lord willing.  I truly appreciate the time and support you give to the blog.  Thank you.