“I” is for incredible and Ivan, and Ivan is the next stop on my “family tribute” series. There’s already a much-abridged summary of things he faced in Year One (if you missed it you can check it out here.) Tomorrow is the last day of his first Spring Break at VCS, and I’m beyond proud of how he’s managing a full-time teaching load (junior high and high school!), while facing our rollercoaster home life with courage and grace. To slightly alter a Taylor Swift lyric: “We don’t love the drama but the drama loves us!”. Instead of dashing off a generic “Day in the Life of Ivan Utomo” post, I’d rather draw you all a concept picture of why he’s the greatest guy in the entire world (from my perspective! <3)
“I” is also for integrity – which Ivan has in spades. He chose me on the deepest level that day he proposed in Golden Gate Park (San Francisco – for those who were wondering!). Since our wedding took place only days after his 23rd birthday and I was still 22, you can imagine the number of raised eyebrows. We said we wanted to be together forever, but just words won’t make dreams come true. How could we make that kind of permanent commitment so young? Our choice was founded on God’s help as well as our own love, though, and a fairly decent “starter life” didn’t hurt. I was headed for grad school and Ivan was finishing grad school. We understood each other’s fields and were enthusiastic for each other’s opportunities. We could support ourselves financially. But then the accident. Ivan had a disabled, brain-injured wife and he was still only 23. We had our first anniversary in the hospital.
This would have been a prime time for anyone to rethink his “I do”. Ivan was (and is!) extremely gifted and his whole life was still ahead of him. I was his only obstacle. Honestly, we lost track of the number of people who asked if he would stay, especially during those early months. But one of the qualities that made me fall in love with Ivan is his integrity. He had promised God we would be together forever just like he’d promised me, and he kept his word. He faced more than just living with me, though. The Bible calls a Christian husband to protect his wife and provide for her. Since we were both employed and enjoyed a stable lifestyle when we got married, that didn’t seem like such a big deal. It was more like a “be nice to Grace and keep her safe” kind of deal. But then we lost everything and it turned into a “take care of a disabled girl, pay the rent, put food on the table, finish grad school, and find a full-time job” kind of deal. “Overwhelming” is an understatement. Do you know I’ve never heard Ivan complain about that deal during our journey, not even once? He’s 25 now, his face looks more tired than it did, but he carries himself much taller. I’m pretty sure his integrity is taller, too. Ivan trusted God, and God is sculpting him into a much stronger man than I could have imagined. I admit we still have a super long way to go before a lifetime is over, but I’m positive he’ll be incredible every step of the way.