By Kelly Capriotti Burton
Just love him.
That is what I felt God telling me, in the middle of 150 artists, over 1000 audience members, a staff and sound crew, my parents taking care of my little ones, hours and hours of music and operations.
Just. Love. Him.
The “him” in question might surprise you; it did me. In the middle of our annual Big Week (aka Branson Gospel Music Convention, now Revival), I was loving God plenty and definitely relying on Him to get us through a week that held more challenges than we expected. But in the middle of it all, God was telling me quite clearly to love my husband.
Rod and I have only been married seven years. We often recount the things that we have packed into those years: career changes, children, a ministry calling that has taken on a life of its own, a current plan to relocate. Over the past two years, our relationship of husband and wife has often been overtaken by the demands of parenting little ones and teenagers and by our role as business partners.
I confess: All of that rolled up together has meant that I have taken my husband for granted as the love of my life.
It’s never that I don’t adore him. Anyone who knows us knows I do. It’s not that he hasn’t remained my best friend. Though I have a wonderful circle of girlfriends, there is no person I would rather share my time with. But somewhere in the midst of it all, I let go of that ‘spark.’
In spite of what the Disney movies tell us – the spark always remains, and in spite of what the divorce rate tells us – when the spark ceases to come naturally, it’s over, I cling to a truth I’ve gleaned from studying and from talking to a lot of other married and divorced people: Marriage is work. Love is a choice. And my role as wife is second only to my role as a servant of Christ. Serving my husband, as he leads our family, is my first ministry.
No one would mistake me for the woman who “just” stands behind her man. I often stand beside him, and sometimes, I am running in front of him, yanking on his hand. I am not a quiet and demure person, but I do, I do, I DO believe that he is my leader, that as his wife I am to be submissive. It’s not always easy – sometimes it’s the hardest thing for this independent woman to do, but I can testify to you, dear Reader, that I have never once regretted it.
In the midst of the culmination our ministry effort together – the Branson GMC – I saw my husband two weeks ago as I haven’t seen him in awhile, perhaps since my children were born. I sat back and opened my eyes and saw a man I fell in love with, only better and stronger and closer to God and more loving and gentle than he was seven years ago. I saw someone whom I am honored to have love me. I saw someone whom I am not ashamed to say I need. I saw someone who wants my heart and welcomes me in my imperfections.
People ask how the week went, what fruits have we seen. I can site numbers and share the testimonies of others, but I am only now beginning to see the work God did in my heart. He brought me back to a simple role and realization of my place as Rod Burton’s wife. All these other great things I have in my life – my kids, my ‘gospel music’ friends, my ministries, have stemmed from my marriage to him. And even if they didn’t, none of it would be as rewarding or exciting without him.
Rod, let these few words serve as a tribute to you: the man I married, the one you have become, and the one whom I am falling in love with in a new and deeper way. God has certainly surprised me with this gift, a rekindling, and I cling to it as we continue to walk His path together.
Readers, if you are married, I admonish you: Go to your spouse. Spend a little quiet time. Ask God to remind you of the foundation you share and to strengthen what you have together. He wants us to be madly in love with each other. Remember Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: we are stronger when we serve Him together!
Hailing from Al Capone’s old stomping ground, Chicago Heights, IL, Kelly Capriotti Burton was a stranger to Southern Gospel music until marrying into it! Always a music fan, she discovered a fondness for gospel harmonies, southern hospitality, and road life while traveling with her husband Rod Burton.
Kelly has previously worked as a corporate project manager and a high school English teacher. She has written and taught in a variety of outlets and now spends her time caring for three daughters (two toddlers, one teen), assisting with Rod’s ministry, serving as Editor-in-Chief of SGN Scoops Digital Magazine, and to break up the boredom, working as a partner in YMR Music Productions, which presents the Branson Gospel Music Convention.
She considers life to be one unexpected adventure after another; her biggest so far was having two babies in 15 months after being diagnosed with infertility. She considers laughter (with a side of sarcasm) to be the best strategy, God’s grace to be the greatest gift, and miracles to always be possible.