Twenty years ago when I met Clayton he was a pro athlete. Back then I had no idea of his capacity to endure pain and what this meant in terms of pushing his body to its physical limits. This capacity for pain is what put him at the top and made him an elite athlete. I was young and in love and naive and I didn’t understand it, so I didn’t appreciate it.
Now we’ve been married 17 years, have moved countries, have 3 kids, 3 dogs, a mortgage, somewhat health insurance, and have been serving the Lord together, I see his capacity for pain as an enormous strength.
Clayton’s capacity to endure pain is not just physical, it’s emotional, it’s mental–it’s dogged grit. This is where I’ve been so surprised. I marvel, actually. His huge capacity for pain has meant he has a huge capacity to patiently endure long and very well.
Over the years in spite of setbacks, relational pain, letdown, when others didn’t understand, have taken for granted, minimized, haven’t valued, and when some have even dishonored, his capacity for self-sacrifice, to love and serve others with undying loyalty has me falling more deeply in love with him everyday.
Where some try to prove their strength or manliness outwardly, Clayton doesn’t even think in terms of impressing others. He’s just too busy serving others.
He possesses a rare indomitable internal strength. This strength comes from God. God wired him but my husband also chooses again and again to yield to the will of God–no matter the pain or sacrifice. And because of this obedience he possesses the strength and security of heaven. He has nothing to prove to man because heaven has proved him.
Capacity is a funny thing. To have the capacity for great strength we must have the capacity in the other direction for great pain. Without pain we never make gains in our capacity for strength. This is a known biological law in our physical body. Less obvious is how true this is where it concerns our faith-life, our emotions, our thinking, and heart responses to God.
To greatly love and humbly serve others we must have the capacity in the other direction to suffer great relational pain, a dying to self. Without pain, and particularly the right responses to the pain, we never grow our capacity to love and serve.
I have watched my husband have the right responses for 20 years, when in the natural it hasn’t made sense, and then watched as God has built into him a capacity and a strength that is almost absurd. He loves, he serves, he gives to the point where it seems illogical; with matchless integrity.
God has made Clayton, the father of our kids, into a true spiritual father in a church world that is orphaned and desperately needs men who will yield everything to God, no matter the cost, to get the strength of God to father a generation.