This is the one book we should be putting in the hands of every newly engaged couple. Wrap it in a bow and gift it at every bridal shower. Their love story is one that speaks of true commitment and deep love in sickness and in health. Their marriage vows? This couple is the definition of a true covenant. They’ve loved one another in good times and in bad. Jay and Katherine Wolf join us as the second guests of an author series for the month of March. Each author in this series will share the heart of a new book; books ranging from those only available for preorder to books released in the past year.
Their book, Hope Heals is now available for preorder. Friends, you will want this book delivered to your doorstep immediately upon its April 26th release! May their story of healing and hope in Jesus encourage hurting souls in the midst of a broken world. To God be all glory. We have His hope as an anchor to our souls.
It is an honor to welcome Jay and Katherine to my little blog home today! Grab a nice cup of coffee and perhaps a box of Kleenex. This is absolutely one of the most beautiful things you will ever read. I guarantee this, sweet friends.
“As I rolled over each morning, through the early light seeping in around the curtains I would stare in awe at the new woman who lay beside me. In many ways, Katherine was the same woman I had fallen in love with in the college cafeteria ten years before; and yet in just as many ways, through the refinement of suffering, she was a different person. I was different too, both inside and out. My newly graying hair belied my age. When people expressed surprise that I was not even thirty yet, I would tell them, “It’s all the years of hard livin’.”
Every marriage experiences the inevitable fading of the honeymoon period. Every married person is confronted with the reality that the one they married might be different from the one they thought they were committing to on their wedding day. This disenchantment, this space between expectations and changing realities, is often the beginning of the end of many marriages. But it doesn’t have to be.
On our wedding day, I had no idea that, literally underneath her bridal veil, Katherine bore a microscopic abnormality, an AVM, that would forever alter the course of her future and mine. And yet this is a picture of marriage in the way that God fashioned it. When we get married, we manage to look the most attractive we will ever look in our lives, yet each of us bears much underneath the surface that will change that appeal—some things we already know about and some we could never imagine. This sounds hopeless in a way, like we’re all marrying strangers; yet the reality is that marriage can bind our hearts together in an unconditional love that our human emotions could never manufacture on their own. Marriage invites us into a promise we may never have had the courage to make, had we known all we would be agreeing to. But rather than creating a prison—a “ball and chain”—marriage can provide a place of freedom, a garden of abundant life unleashed, in spite of all we did not know. When marriage is viewed in this transcendent way, though pain and sacrifice and loss still inevitably come, they no longer pose the same threat because the marriage, not the emotion, is the thing holding it all together.
There was no singular moment when I decided to stay in my marriage. It was more the accumulation of each day’s choice to stay, of each day’s intention to find awe and empathy and love for this woman who had been, quite literally, reborn. And yet in the physical staying it became clear that I would also need to commit to stay internally as well. What was my commitment worth if my body was in it but my heart was not? I was struck by the picture of God allowing people’s hearts to harden, like the pharaoh’s in the book of Exodus, or correspondingly to soften. I began to pray specifically, as in Ezekiel 11, for God to take away my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh, one that was soft and tender toward my wife.
If suffering is like going through fire, I wanted to choose what this inescapable process purified in me and what it melted away. I found my faith and my hope solidifying into something more constant than my emotions or circumstances, creating an altogether separate organism—and that was so freeing. Similarly, the commitment I had made to my marriage was growing deeper, more enduring, and less dependent on whether a given day was a good or bad one.
Yet as the patient/caregiver routines became more entrenched in our lives, as the adrenaline left me and fatigue set in, I could see how that specific part of our relationship could be most rife for a hardening of my heart. As suffering does, this experience had pared away any pretense between us and homed in on our core issues, the core of who we were. Thankfully, as I had known all along, Katherine’s core was pure, though her body and heart had been broken in so many ways. What was exposed was not bitterness or rage, but rather her abiding love. I prayed the same could be said of my core.
Nonetheless, when you put two very different, firstborn, achiever types in a relationship where they are supposed to be one, sparks will fly in both good and bad ways. When you layer on top of that the stress of life and death, the fear of the unknown, and the realities of severe disability, those sparks can light a fire that will either take the whole house down or melt away many imperfections, leaving something that just might last a very long time.
In our new home setting we felt safe, but in an unexpected way, the “honeymoon” phase after the stroke was fading, and we were both trying to embrace the new people who remained. Sometimes before bed, the stress and weariness of the day would induce an argument of one kind or another, but I knew Katherine still needed me, quite literally, more than I needed to be right. Still fuming, we would submit in that moment to care and to be cared for, not so much out of love for each other, but out of love for God and gratitude for the relationship He had given us—a relationship the whole of which was growing far greater than the sum of its individual parts. I would help Katherine to the bathroom and hold her chin in my hand while I flossed her teeth. She would lie down on the bed and I would gently begin the required nightly routine for her impaired eye, moisturizing it, putting in the lubrication, and then patching it shut with paper tape. There was no running out and slamming the door, going on a drive or sleeping on the couch. Yet in the humbling process of serving, even when I didn’t feel like it, my heart once again softened toward her. I found that acting in love inevitably provoked true feelings of love, and the reverse was no less true. In the daily melting away of frustration and bitterness, we could embrace and celebrate the gift of this new life together, and in the midst of the mundane we could remember the miracle.”
~Jay Wolf, author of Hope Heals
This excerpt from the highly anticipated book, Hope Heals was shared by permission of Jay and Katherine Wolf. It is with deep gratitude to the Wolfs that I am able to share their message with my readers today on this blog. To preorder your own copy or to read more about the book, I encourage you to visit HopeHeals.com.
Katherine and Jay Wolf are parents, artists, communicators and survivors. After meeting in college, they got married and moved to Los Angeles to pursue law school for Jay and the entertainment industry for Katherine. Their son James was born in 2007 and six months later, Katherine’s life nearly ended with a catastrophic stroke. Miraculously, she survived and continues her recovery to this day. Katherine and Jay have shared their journey of whole-hearted living and hope in Christ in many forums since 2008. Katherine, Jay, and their family currently reside in Los Angeles, Cali.