I want to try to capture a portion of our marriage because I feel what others saw in us was such a gift form God. It was how He intended a marriage to be. I was blessed to have been Andrea's husband for 24 years and 8 months. God poured His love on me on April 19th 1980 on Kemp Street in Wichita Falls Texas the moment I looked into Andrea's beautiful blue eyes. I want to pass on what God gave us and what Andrea taught me.
I know I won't be able to express all I feel, This blog would be a book if I tried to tell you what I learned about love and marriage from Andrea. But I must try. I feel I need to share what God blessed me so abundantly with, a Godly woman, a submissive wife.
I loved her so very much, she made my days. She loved me unconditionally. That is an amazing thing to experience, unconditional love. God tells us that is how He loves us, and I got a little taste of that on earth.
I get so many comments about our marriage, how strong to was, how obvious our love was for each other. Let me first go on record by saying, "Andrea started it."
To us it was just the way it always was. It was a gift from God, for man on his own could not love this way. It began the moment we met and it only grew. It foundation was a trust for each other. It's walls were a never ending desire to put each other first. You see when you can trust someone 100% you don't worry about getting hurt, or not having a need or desire met. You know your mate wants what you want more then what they want. I always knew Andrea was trying to give to me what I wanted and I the same for her. Like I said she started it and I was just trying to catch up. But most of the time we wanted the same things in life and that was a gift from God. We had truly become one. When we did not want the same thing it was a race to see who could give to the other. Giving was a source of happiness to us so in the end we were always happy, either to give or receive.
I am going to tell you what I feel was Andrea's strongest quality as a wife. It may not seem obvious, and I pretty sure some of you will not like the word I use, but it was Andrea. Keep in mind this only works when trust and love are the basis of your marriage. It only works when the husband has a heart of love. Not love in what can you give me, but love in let me met your need first. Without this love it is hard for a man and woman to fill the roles God intended us to be in.
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Andrea's greatest strength as a wife was she was a submissive wife. I cringe as I type those words because they come with a lot of baggage in our modern day minds. Please allow yourself to let go of what society has taught you this word means and I will try to explain a woman who reflected how God meant a woman to love and relate to her husband. When I saw Andrea fill this role knowing in my heart she was better then I was, it made me want to serve her. For a wife to be submissive she must first feel this love. The husband must first fulfill this role. When you seek your wants first, your marriage becomes about taking, meeting your own needs. But when you a husband first loves his wife and puts her desires first, she will be free to love him unconditionally to be a Godly woman whom is not afraid of being submissive, knowing her husband would never take advantage of her. Knowing her husband loves her first and in doing so loves himself. As a man when you love you wife in this way you will find a woman who lives to give you your desires. It is amazing to experience and no matter what your past is you can love this way. Submit to God first then to each other.
Ephesians 5:25-28Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Andrea wanted, she desired, she longed for me to be the man and husband God wanted me to be. She wanted a husband who was the spiritual leader. Those of you who knew Andrea know the pressure I felt thinking I was to be her spiritual leader. This is the equivalent of Tom Brady allowing the fourth string quarterback to start, no more like allowing a High School JV quarterback to start in his place to make the unlearned become better. All the while watching him fail knowing he could do better by taking over. But Andrea knew that God had set the home up to operate this way. I know you are cringing again at the thought of what I'm writing. Stay with me as I keep trying to explain.
The roles of a husband and wife are in no way superior to one another they are complimentary to each other. Again it begins with trust. Trust your spouse won't hurt you, trust your spouse wants the best for you. Trust built on love, the love described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
I'm not saying we were perfect but I knew this was Andrea's desire and I knew her motivation was her love for me and I trusted her. If she made a mistake it was just that. Besides I was making far more mistakes then she and she would just keep loving me. How could I do anything less for her? I was always playing catch up to her!
I respected my wife and her abilities. As the head of the house (I know that one made a few of you grit your teeth) I looked at Andrea and I saw she had abilities that were far superior to mine and I had some better then hers. When someone follows your lead out of love, respect and trust and you lead out of the same values there is no authority needed. There was never an order given. It was not that kind of leadership. I can only think of a few times where Andrea said, I will do what you want when she had a different opinion. Once was about getting a pet! We were always trying to give to each other out of our love that the only conflict we had was who was going to get to allow the other to have what they wanted.
I knew one of Andrea's strengths was her faith. I knew she was smarter on the bible then I ever would be. But in this one area I needed to grow to exceed her abilities. Andrea wanted me to lead her spiritually and unlike any other area I needed to be the leader. I needed to lead her in prayer and in studying the word. This was very hard for me. Our relationship started with me being much weaker in faith and the easiest thing for me was to just allow Andrea to fill this role. It was not out of love that I did this it was out of my weakness and fear of filling that role which God has put me in. Our life together was really built around Andrea encouraging me to become this man. This is the patience she had for me that I speak of so often. For her the easiest thing would have been to just to it herself. She was better then I and it must have been frustrating to watch me make mistake after mistake. Heck just getting me to understand my role must have been hard for her. She waited for me because she knew God was faithful and she knew in the end this would be best for us both.
Andrea quietly prayed for me everyday for years, probably over 20 years for my faith and my spiritual growth. I was never "done" none of us will ever be on this earth, but I believe God allowed me in the last 2 yrs and 5 months to full fill my role. I think that was God's gift to Andrea to see the answer to her prayers. This journal is a result of a faithful woman's prayers.
It is what she meant when she spoke her last words to me, "Jim you need to be strong now." Strong to take her into the ICU, strong because I would be standing alone in my faith in 22 days. Strong because I would no longer have my mentor with me. It was time for me to step up and put into action the things God had been teaching me. I think Andrea knew I was up for the task. I think she knew she had accomplished a purpose for her life. She raised me in my faith. Now she was letting me go.
That is why I say she made me who I am. She really did. She did it by not just quitting on me and doing things on her own. Which I know at times would have been far easier. She could have gotten frustrated I was taking so long to learn and grow that she just did it herself. But she lived with such a long term perspective. She lived with an eternal perspective in that she knew in the long run her prayers would produce far more fruit then her brawn.
The person I am today is due to a woman of Faith, of woman who loved her husband enough to allow him to stumble fall. A woman who loved her husband to always encourage him to get up after he fell. A woman who loved God first, and used her faith to trust her husband would become the man she needed. A woman who loved me enough to wait. A woman who loved me enough to wait for me to come to a conclusion she knew long before. A woman who put me first even when I was not the best choice, believing in the end that I would be. A woman known as Andrea, Jokie, Jokamus Beautumus, JB, and Little bit. A woman who took pride in being Mrs James Ravella. A woman who humbled me in doing so. I woman I respected. A woman I loved. A woman who exemplified a Godly woman who loved so deeply she forgave the short term gain for my long term benefit. A submissive wife. She trusted me and my love that I would never hurt her.
I hope I'm ready to do this on my own. I must be or God would not have taken her.