Monday, January 26, 2009

Love on display

The other night I was watching the television as President Barak Obama entered one of the inaugural balls. He came in and as he greeted the crowd he turned to look at his wife, Michelle and he said, "Isn't she beautiful?" Those words touched my heart. It was great to hear the most powerful man in the world complimenting his wife. It was also nice to know the words were sincere. It says something about the man.

The truth is that for the last eight years we have witnessed that same kind of love and devotion in President George W. Bush toward his wife, Laura. Those who know them best will tell you that their love for each was on display for all to see. It was an example for all to follow. Unfortunately it was often over shadowed by the tumultuous events that have gone on in our world since September 11th and the decisions made in its aftermath.

I received this e-mail today and I thought I would share it with you. I know that there are many who don't have a high regard for the job George W. Bush did as President. I'm not going to argue that. But when you look at him as a man, as a husband and father, he gave us an example that we can be proud of.

A Love like no other...

Who could have predicted that when Joe and Jan O'Neill invited their two single friends, George Walker Bush and Laura Lane Welch to a backyard barbecue in the summer of 1977 their efforts at matchmaking would end up making history? Who would have known the couple would not only be attracted to each other, but that sparks would fly and ignite so quickly into flames, that they would marry in a mere three months? And who could ever have imagined that eventually God would lead this same young couple to become the President and First Lady of the greatest country on earth.

George W. was admittedly "smitten" by the lovely young Laura. He said that she was "gorgeous, good - humored, quick to laugh, down - to - earth, and very smart." Laura thought that young George was "kind of cute, and funny" and liked how he made her laugh. Though they were opposites in personality - - he outgoing and sometimes outrageous, athletic and from a boisterous, energetic family, and she a calm, quiet and thoughtful reader, and beloved only child - - they found they shared the same beliefs and values - - " West Texas " values of an individual's worth and of personal responsibility. They discovered they had common interests - - they both loved to read and spend time with friends. They fell so quickly in love that they married on November 5, 1977. According to Laura, “It was a small wedding, just about 75 people. It was in the church I'd been baptized in as a baby. So it was really a wonderful way to start a new marriage." That was thirty - two years ago.

Their marriage began with a honeymoon in Mexico , followed by a congressional campaign trip throughout Texas . It wasn't politically successful, but both have said it was a good way to start their marriage because they got to spend every minute with each other and loved it. Rumor is, they still do!

After years of trying to have the family they so desired, the Bushes became proud parents in November 1981, of lovely twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, both named after their grandmothers. The family was deeply involved in church and community and in developing loving relationships with each other that have stood the test of time...through difficulties and triumphs, through a not too successful oil exploration venture, a very successful Texas Rangers baseball team, the Governorship of Texas, long and difficult campaigns, and finally to the White House as President, First Lady, and beautiful, mature and gracious first daughters of the United States of America .

The story of George and Laura Bush is a wonderful love story..... a song of delight and passion, humor and fidelity, steadfastness and grace. The President has said, "I saw an elegant beautiful woman who turned out not only to be elegant and beautiful, but very smart and willing to put up with my rough edges, and I must confess has smoothed them off over time." There really aren't that many couples who after 30 years display so openly their deep affection for one another - - in their embraces, kisses, whispers, playful pats from well - placed hands, touches, and looks that could melt the coldest heart. When they are together, they can be alone in a room full of people. They have allowed us to observe their love and to love them even more because of their adoration for each other, and even at times to be "twitter pated" and inspired by what we see in them...the intimacy, the trust, and even the passion of mature love.

One can easily see how much fun they have together and how much they enjoy each other's company. The delightful interaction between them can erupt at any moment in time, and the joy of the Lord and enjoyment of each other radiates in their faces.

Observers have noted that when Laura walks into a room, her husband is visibly calmed, while she has said that he has brought excitement into her life. But above all, they provide for each other comfort and refuge in times of need. Laura has said, "We have a very sustaining relationship. It's always been that way and we're lucky to have that relationship." George has said, "Laura brings me great comfort. It's very helpful to know that in this wonderful job, that I am not alone." And, "My wife is a rock."

The President, ever more effusive in his manner, has declared what we have all come to understand: "Laura is a beautiful person, inside and out." She is to him, "mi esposa...mi amore"... my wife, my love, and "the great love of my life." And in moments when she needed assurance and encouragement, he has been known to say, "You look beautiful, babe!" What a gift it is to the leader of the free world to have a woman by his side who has covenanted to be with him always in love and support! Laura has observed that in politics you have many enemies, so it's better if it's not your spouse. It's not difficult to see that these two are not enemies! In a rare unguarded moment when asked about the President's appearance, Laura expressed that "After nearly 30 years of marriage, I still think the President is the most handsome man I know."

There is no obligatory political handholding between them... it is the handholding of lovers; of two people who communicate that love through touch. Even the kisses on campaign stages can be filled with passion, and the embraces intense and electric. And, oh, the joy of seeing them holding each other close as they danced at the Inaugural Balls, sometimes gazing lovingly, sometimes teasing, but always enjoying the magical moment together!

What a blessing it has been for the past eight years to observe this exemplary relationship! It is so extraordinary and exciting, yet so normal...just like us, but not. This couple has been through tough times - and yet they have endured with an abiding peace and joy. They have endured through the grace of God and because of their faith.

I pray that Barak and Michelle Obama's marriage will be as strong, if not stronger, that that of George and Laura Bush. I pray it will set and example for all of us who are married from one end of this great nation to the other.