Give in. By David and Alexandra Wise
I am excited to tie this blog post to a Valentine’s Day re-release of a video that Alexandra and I worked on for two years: “Give In.” The years that we were working on this also happened to be two of the most challenging years of both of our lives. All that struggle served as a test of our willingness to “Give In” to each other and highlighted the necessity of doing so.
Watch the video here, and then read on:
The video highlights two characters on two seemingly different journeys, but at its climax we realize that they have both been journeying toward each other all along. That is how it has felt for me. I spent so much time thinking I was on my own and was working for myself, but the journey was always drawing me to a place where I could “Give In” to Alexandra and be a better husband to her.
Since it is Valentine’s Day, let me start out with a heartfelt confession to my wife: you are way too good for me. Seriously, I married up… like, way up. Your love for me and the kids gives me something to aspire to every day. I thank God every day for allowing me to be a part of your life. I am eternally in your debt.
or putting your spouse before yourself, isn’t really a well promoted concept in our society. I think most people approach dating and relationships wondering what the other person can do for them. Are they attractive enough (and will they remain that way)? Do they have enough of my favorite qualities? Do they make enough money? Do they come from a good family? Are my future new in-laws palatable? Will we look good together? Will they bolster or hurt my reputation? Do they like enough of the same things I do? I’m not saying that these things aren’t important, I’m just pointing out how “ME” centered they are. Most relationships fall apart because both partners put themselves before the other habitually (usually one more than the other) and eventually someone decides that they have had enough.
I can tell you that I fell into this trap as well. Not being selfish is difficult in life as a professional athlete. A typical day might involve eating a protein rich breakfast; getting in a small work out and stretch; training and trying to improve my skills on skis; eating a protein-rich lunch; maybe going to see the physio to work on any ailments I might have; watching video of myself with my coaches and analyzing my technique; I might spend some time on the trampoline or doing yoga depending on the day; then I would eat another big meal. All those items seem self-centered. As athletes we get to be the front men for a big team of people: coaches, equipment techs, physical therapists, doctors, psychologists, administrators, etc. These people don’t work directly for us, they work for the team, but their whole role is based around serving the athletes, so it is easy to take them for granted.
I approached marriage in a similar way. I expected my wife to just jump on board and serve me and my purposes. Early on I didn’t communicate well with her. I didn’t let her in to my struggles. I wasn’t vulnerable about the difficulties I was going through. I was often distant and sullen because I was going through struggles that I thought she couldn’t understand. I also didn’t do a good job of expressing my interest in or my support of her hopes and dreams. Meanwhile, I struggled to understand her frustration and difficulty supporting the things that I was pursuing. I am so grateful to my wife for standing by me in those early years despite my stupidity and pride. I don’t know how she did it. Luckily, she stuck around long enough for me to learn something vital: unconditional love is the cornerstone to a healthy relationship. Early on I was caught up in the conditional love cycle: I’ll work for her, but only as hard as she works for me; I’ll sacrifice for her, but only as much as she is willing to sacrifice for me; I’ll serve her, but only as much as she is willing to serve me. Here is a little secret: if you approach relationships like this then someone will always be in debt and you will never be truly free. It is only when you surrender your need for justice and truly put your significant others needs before your own, that your relationship will take the first step toward freedom. My wife doesn’t forgive me when I mess up because I deserve it (most of the time I don’t). She forgives me because she truly loves me and wants me to prosper. I think if we all strove to truly put our significant others’ needs first we would be surprised by how content and joyful we would be about it. If she puts me first, and I put her first, we are both well taken care of. Surrendering our need for control and our desire to have our needs met is ironically the first step to freedom. When both members of a relationship put each other first, everyone is well taken care of. That is what “giving in” means to me. I believe I exist for two reasons: to serve God and to serve the people around me, starting first and foremost with my wife, followed closely by my kids. This video is a representation of that journey to “Give In” to my wife and her needs. I thought by putting her first I was surrendering my freedom, but in the end, I was only beginning to discover true freedom.
My name is David, and I Give In.
Once upon a time there was a boy who thought he was a man, Me.
I spotted you from a mile away and saw you as a temporary prize,
A tall athletic brunette with bright eyes.
I thought “She’ll make a perfect addition to my trophy case”
But you and God had a different plan.
The supposed conqueror became the victim,
In the end it was my pride that was destroyed. -Good riddance
I was a child playing stick ball, and you belonged in the major leagues.
For three years you would flit in and out of my life,
always leaving me yearning for more, inspiring me to something greater.
Then one day you fluttered down to my level and allowed me to call you: “Girlfriend”
I knew I was lucky then, but I had no idea that it was the start of something better, and harder, and more rewarding than I could have imagined.
Never in my life did I have a better idea than to ask you to be my wife.
I was NEVER more fortunate than when you said “Yes”.
I used to think I knew everything about you.
Seven years later I know I’ve only begun to scratch the surface.
You showed me what love, kindness and humility are.
You lead a life that makes me want to be a better man.
You motivate me to a better future, without shaming my broken past.
What is love without conditions?
Ask her, She’ll tell you.
So Butterfly, I want you to know that I love you.
I love you for your flaws and weaknesses, just as much as your beauty and strength.
God gave you the flaws to keep you within my reach, though you’ll always woefully outclass me.
Thank you for stopping your flight long enough for me to catch you.
It still amazes me that you decided to stay.
I like who I am becoming because of you, and I LOVE who you are becoming in spite of me!
Thank you for eight years of your precious life,
whether we have seven, or seventy, or seven hundred left,
I will be forever yours, as long as you will have me.
When I married david,
I didn’t know what love was. I mean, real love.
Not lust, not selfish love, not comfortable or convenient love.
Real. Raw. Empowering. Self-sacrificing. Painful. Deep. Uncomfortable. Unconditional.
Just because 1 Corinthians 13 is read at almost every wedding ceremony, does not mean the two individuals actually have a concept for it themselves. Nor does it mean they will practice it with each other in the days to come. But from my experience of “Give In” with David during our hardest two and half years, I believe I learned how to love David best by learning how to accept the love he had for me.
Until I married David, I did not know that I was loved. So, I fought for love in every situation I found myself in. Whether I was fighting for love with God, David, our daughter, my friends, my own family, or my in-laws, it was always rooted in the deeper issue that I did not know my own worth and value. I was a mess. I acted like an entitled child throwing a tantrum for a lollipop that had to be purchased before the parent could hand it to the toddler. That sucker was mine, but I fought for it like it wasn’t. Until “Give In” happened.
The making of the music Video “Give in,” for me, has been a long and sometimes torturous process of learning how to accept the relentless love of God over my life. I was stubborn to believe that I could neither gain more grace from doing good, than I could lose grace from doing wrong. And that frustrated me. I wanted to earn God’s love as much as I wanted to earn David’s love. My lack of awareness or understanding that I already had God’s Love was my downfall. It wasn’t until I learned that I could not fail him, and that he really would always love me for me, and not what I could do right or wrong. That I finally gave in and surrendered to the amazing grace and could accept David’s unconditional love for me, too.
I am still growing in this understanding, and I hope I always find myself on the discovery of how much I really am loved.
Bottom line; I cannot love David, if I cannot accept his love for me.
As David mentioned, real love really is contagious. It’s infectious. That’s why Hollywood can’t get over it, that’s why the top songs on the charts are still singing about it. Love is the single most powerful weapon we possess.
As the great theologians, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, once said: “All you need is love.”
And, it’s not a mystery anymore that perfect love casts out all fear. 1 John 4:18
David’s example of God’s perfect love invaded my dark and scary places of insecurity, doubt and disbelief. It knocked down my walls of self-glorification, and fear of rejection. David saved me from the self-destructive path I was walking of pride and shame when his kindness and goodness led me to a place where I could openly confess what was going on and not fear his punishment. Far from my understanding of marriage or any relationship, I found out that the more I told him, the more he loved me. There was no secret I wanted to hide anymore.
Knowing that I was completely accepted empowered me to accept myself. Which led to a chain reaction of me accepting him, my children, and the people around me in the same unconditional way.
As David and I continue to grow in our acceptance of love, our passion for repentance grows exponentially. We learned to confess the deeper issue stuff, not just surface level. And from confession we learned to forgive. Forgiveness comes from a place of understanding what it means to be forgiven. As we experienced each other’s forgiveness, it became almost impossible not to forgive others.
Forgiveness has been a cornerstone in our marriage. It has deepened our hope and joy for any situation that comes at us. When things go wrong, or don’t go the way we planned we can forgive the person who caused it. And in times when there is no one to blame, we can forgive the situation we are in and find peace to give thanks for the adversity.
“Give in” from the very beginning for me, was about giving into forgiveness. Loving David even when he didn’t deserve it, because I knew that I also had been forgiven. And I don’t mean loving him like, I will allow him to sleep in my presence. I mean loving him passionately, and intimately with complete vulnerability, even when he irritated me the most.
I remember one fight in particular, I was helping David pack for another big ski trip. Of course, it was another day of packing chaos. Home for one day, unpacking and repacking. He had misplaced an item, (his absolute worst nightmare) and logically blamed it on me because I was the one who has been home.
We were in the garage standing across from a mess of skis, bindings, wax, and baggage yelling at each other. And I will never forget the classic scene from “The Notebook” that ran through my head as I halfway listened to his latest accusation toward me. And, in a flash, all my anger and disappointment, and fear of rejection completely melted away. I had my answer of “justice” and it looked nothing like revenge. It was love. I walked over and kissed him right in the middle of his rant. And suddenly it was like a lightbulb went off and we remembered what was really important.
I’ve used this learning lesson much on my marriage and parenting since then.
If I am fighting with my significant other or my kids about something I feel entitled to have, then I care more about the thing than I care about them. Which we know is not true at the core, but it is the subliminal message we are sending one another when we fight about nothing like that. We are saying, I value my stuff more than I value you. But when I kissed David that day I was reminding him where his love, value, importance, worth and identity comes from.
I was reminding him of the love that he already had. He only needed to accept it.
So, my marriage advice is this, it’s simple and it has everything to do with you; and not them.
You are accepted. You are loved. You are worthy to be accepted and loved. So, celebrate the goodness of grace in your life. And with your new sense of joy, share your unconditional love with others. They can’t help but love you back.
David my beloved,
As we stand here today, I am overawed. Six years ago you only married a part of me. I was lost and broken.
Yet you chose me.
You chose me though I only had pieces to give. You were strong enough to be gentle and brave enough to be kind.
I am chosen and I am yours.
When I ran away you pursued me with an unrelenting love. You have never let me go.
When I denied you, you never left me. You are for me not against me.
I am not alone.
You taught me what grace is. You saw past my worst mistakes and you spoke to my identity.
You enabled me to see myself the way God sees me. You stole every reason I had be afraid.
Your faithfulness and your perfect love has healed me.
I am whole.
I stand in awe of God’s everlasting love for us. He never stops doing us good.
He showered us with mercy when He brought us together.
I am humbled.
So today I renew my promise not only to you, but to God. This time with a new heart, and all of me.
I submit to the authority God has given you over me, I will follow you where ever you lead.
By the grace of God you are who you are. Worthy of my trust in all you do, you can not fail.
I am in awe of who I am because of you. You will always be more than enough for me.
I promise to be your helper in what ever God Gives you to do.
I promise to encourage you and support you in how God leads you.
I promise to love you children and raise them in the way of the Lord.
I promise to bless you in you grief and sufferings.
I promise to celebrate with you in your victories.
I promise to comfort you in your sickness.
I promise to strengthen your weaknesses with gentle truth
I promise to respect you even when you are wrong
I promise to let our marriage to point to something bigger than us.