Sep 01

BFF: The Huz

In response to a friend’s comment (Marilyn of the blog “Communicating Across Boundaries“) on yesterday’s blog post(Me? Hit On?),  I plan to reflect a bit.  In yesterday’s post, I wrote about an experience at the end of which I called my husband.  He was the first person I called.  I did not text anyone else first.

I just called Kerry.

That is what I tend to do.

Marilyn’s comment on the post referred to the fact that my huz was the first I called and stated, “we live in an age where that doesn’t necessarily happen.”  As she said, it is worth reflection.

Kerry and I  met at Crystal Spring Baptist Camp formally during the summer following ninth grade in the shallow end of the lake.  Crystal Springs sits in the middle of nowhere within sight of I-94 west of Jamestown and east of Bismarck.  The closest town with a laundromat is Medina which is about fifteen minutes away.  At time that we went there, the bathrooms were crude, and the cabins were not air-conditioned.  The lake did not have boats or blobs – just a platform within a decent swimming distance from which kids jumped into the lake.  The activities building had air conditioning, but it could not keep up with North Dakota summer humidity.

The camp, honestly, had little to do.  This is not a criticism as the camp was a spiritual formation playground for some of today’s college professors, pastors, and missionaries.  I could name several off the top of my head.  And if someone is not in vocational ministry, he or she is likely in casual ministry either providing leadership in a church or simply in ministry in the tent-making sense.

Kerry and I had many of the same camp friends, so we knew each other by name.  We had attended camp with each other for several summers and had attended some youth retreats together.  Some of my best camp friends were from small towns in North and South Dakota much like Kerry was.  Having little to do meant that we built relationships, discussed theology, and shared lives with each other.  For many of us, camp was a vacation from the “real world.”  Our camp friends were our true friends.  High school sucked.  Camp did not.  The relationships that I built there have lasted longer than any others.

Back to the lake…

We were both in the shallow end because we did not want to be in the deep end – he because he could not swim and I because I did not want to lose my contacts.  By the way, my husband received an “A” in college swim class.  He is not afraid of the water; he just lacked childhood exposure to water.  It is not for lack of effort that the man cannot swim!  However, to this day, he would sink to the bottom of any lake without a life preserver.  Thankfully, this was the case in ninth grade.  If not, we may never have met.

The lake conversation became the first of many conversations.  I liked him because he was smart, funny, and considerate.  There was little to guess about Kerry Lee Bender.  If I asked, he would tell me.  Back then, people wrote letters, so we wrote letters.  Long letters.  We shared life with each other.  We wrote about our current romantic interests (if you can call them that!), our joys, our struggles, and the heart break when the romantic interests ended.

We did have a little falling out after Christmas of our senior year…it was my fault.  I’m not going to elaborate on that right now.  The letters ended.  We went off to college – different colleges.  I missed him, but I was too proud to tell him what had really happened.

It turns out he had missed me too.

I returned from Thanksgiving break during my freshman year of college, and, for the first time in nearly eleven months, I had a letter waiting for me.  The rest is history.

We started dating for real, I changed colleges, and we married at the end of our junior year in college.  We have been married now for over sixteen years.  We can talk for hours.  We argue intensely.  And we make up always.

If someone would ask me who my best friend is, I would tell them that it is Kerry without hesitation.  Although I still need girls as friends and have several, I would rather spend my night with Kerry than at just about any girl function one could name.  Although I have close friends and mentors, few of them know me as well as my husband.  He truly understands most of me, and what he doesn’t – well, at least he tries to understand and accepts me without conditions.  While others may be able to consider what might be best for me, he more than likely knows what is best for me.

I am not idealistic about my husband.  I realize that he is human, that he has his own shortcomings and issues, and that he is as fallible as the next.  As happens, he has let me down, has criticized when he should have encouraged, and has made mistakes.  It goes without saying that this happens and that we have had to talk through things, said our apologies, and planned for the time the issue comes around.

At the end of the day, though, I know that he is on my side.  There is no Kerry’s team or Stacy’s team in this relationship.  We are on the same team, and that is reassuring to say the least.

There have been times that I have distanced myself from him, but that is something that we have come to realize happens.  It usually happens when I want to be in control or think I can handle something or just want to be independent.  After I crash into some wall of my own making, he is there to pick me up and to pick up the pieces of whatever devastation I have created.  He protects me from the harms of the world and, most importantly, from myself.

When I think of what makes a best friend, I think of no words – just a person – and that person is my husband.  He embodies the concept of my bff and always will because that is just how it is.

I love the song, “Forget Me Not” by the Civil Wars.  Take a listen and then read the lyrics below:

I’ve been awaiting for you
And you’ve been awaiting for me
Tell me that you’ll always be true
And you’ll be the only one for me
Forget me not my dear, my darling
Forget me not my love
I just wanna hold your hand
Hang on every word you say
Let’s write a song for us
And sing until we’re old and grey
Forget me not my dear, my darling
Forget me not my love
I’m coming home real soon
Please leave a light on for me
Tell me that you’ll always be true
And you’ll be the only one for me
Yes, you’ll be the only one for me

I imagine that some day, when we are old and grey, we will look back on the “hit on” incident and laugh about it.

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