Susan Tall's Husband

“He can blow the flute very well-that ‘a can,’ said a young married man, who having no individuality worth mentioning was known as ‘Susan Tall’s husband.”

This line from Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd makes me smile. Laban Tall, who is somewhat in awe of his bossy, ‘lawful wife’, is overshadowed by her more dominant personality. It is amusing, because at the time of the novel’s setting, the 1860s, women might have expected to be overshadowed by their husband’s characters, which is an equally disagreeable state of affairs.

Sometimes we are only known or referenced in relation to another: X’s brother, son, cousin, employer, employee or neighbour. This often undermines us, denying our individuality and personal dignity. Yet there is one relational status which is an actual poromotion: Christ’s Servant. This status is the best, the most uplifting and the most dignified to which any human can aspire:

His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ Matthew 25:21

Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free,
Sweet and strong, and, ah! so patient,
Brought me lower, while I whispered:
Less of self, and more of Thee!

-Theodore Monod