Friday, October 16, 2015

31 Moments in Time :: going the distance

I don't profess to be an expert on love and marriage.  In fact, most days I feel as if I haven't got a clue. Then I remind myself that I've been doing it for 27 years so I must be getting something right... I hope...  

In my family, 27 years is nearly a record. Almost everyone in my extended family has been divorced, at least once.  I don't say that as a criticism, I say it as a statement of proof that marriage is hard and it takes daily work.  My heart goes out to those who have struggled to make it work and couldn't. To those who were abused by the hands of the one who claimed to love them. To those who had the towel tossed in for them when they were still willing to try. I am so sorry that it didn't work. Divorce is never easy, even if you wanted it.  

Because of what I had seen in my family I vowed that I would never marry.  I fooled myself into thinking I was a "modern" girl and I didn't need a man... that love was meaningless and marriage would only end in divorce so why bother. Then I became a mom and realized I was only fooling myself.

My baby girl and I crossed the street early one sunny day in August, 1987, in front of the man who 10 months later would become my husband. There he sat at the stop sign in a beefed up jeep, waiting for me to cross.  Dark hair, dark eyes and tanned skin sitting in a black jeep... he had to be the cutest thing I had ever seen.  I waved and smiled, and true to my blonde haired self, proceeded on with my day forgetting all about that candied little moment in the sun. He on the other hand, stalled his jeep, which made me giggle and smile again ...and he did not forget.

A friend had been trying to get me to meet a man she knew, she coached his daughter's softball team.  By chance, we ran into him late that same sunny, August day.  As he approached us I was a little put off. He was a mess.  Dirty and scrubby looking, I was not impressed.  But when he stood before me and I could see past the grunge of a days worth of roofing in the hot, summer sun, he had the sweetest smile and the most beautiful dark eyes and long lashes. The look on his face was as if he already knew me and I was captivated by his gaze.  I agreed to go to a softball game later that week.  After the game we all went for pizza and when we left, I stood outside the restaurant and watched him walked across the street. To my amazement, he got in a beefed up jeep...  I am such a blonde.  I had not known he was the same man, nor did I even remember about our "moment in the street" until just then ...but he did.  To hear him tell it now, it's as if it was yesterday.  He says I looked at him as if I knew him. He even remembers what I was wearing, I have no clue what it was.  When he describes my clothing, I don't even remember owning anything like that.  I think in his mind I was dressed as an angel who floated by in front of him... at least that's how I like to think he remembers it.

After 10 months of courtship we became husband and wife.  Imagine that, a 24 year old girl who was never going to marry, marrying a man 11 years her senior, who had been married once before for 10 years.  Talk about being behind in the game. He already had 10 years of practice at how to do marriage, or how not to do marriage. It was truly the story of a girl marrying a man and doing it for all the wrong reasons.  The first few years were rough.  It wasn't until he had to spend 3 months away from me in another state that I realized the value of what I was so hell bent on destroying.  I realized that I could act like a brat all I wanted, that I could try my best to bring about the inevitable divorce, and he would still love me, even when I was unlovable.

There are those who won't agree with me, and that's okay, but I hold fast to the truth that if you want a good and lasting marriage, one that will go the distance, God has to be at the center of it.  My husband is a man of quiet faith, he always has been.  When we met, I was a girl with an entire set of designer baggage, fully loaded with the pain and heartache I had acquired in my short life.  I was also a girl with a false faith.  No matter how bad I treated my husband he never retaliated.  I may not remember what I wore the day I crossed the street in front of him, but the day the wall began to crumble around my heart, that day I remember clearly.  I had spent many, many months treating my husband badly and on this day, in a fit of fear... hopeless and defeated... rage, I struck him in the chest and shoved him as he reached to put his arms around me and comfort me. He stretched his arms wide open and said, "I love you, it's going to be alright."  Just as Christ hung on a cross with his arms wide open, saying, I love you, it's going to be all right, to a world that is lost and hopeless and in need of help.  This changed me.

My husband is a steadfast man of quiet faith, he always has been, but his faith is real and I have been the wonderful recipient of a saving love as my husband allowed Christ to love me through him.  In his own humanness and strength, I do not think he could have loved me through those years. It was Christ in him. 

I like what the Bible says in Galatians 2:20 (taken from the Message)

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

There are words in this verse that speak to me so loudly... be God's man... my ego is no longer central... The life you see me living is not mine... who loved me and gave himself for me.  All words to help you go the distance in a marriage, and life for that matter.

This is a photo of my husband before I knew him.  It has always been my favorite photo of him because it speaks so truly of who he really is... quiet, calm, gentle, at peace in his skin.. and of course cute.

Yesterday I took this photo.  It has become my new favorite.  There is about a 40 year span between the two photos and yet I marvel that after 40 years of life's ups an downs, he is still the same quiet, gentle spirit, comfortable in his skin... and of course cuter than ever to me.  I love him more with each passing year.  

Our marriage isn't perfect.  We have our struggles. Sometimes "me" gets the best of "us" and we fight over dumb stuff, and serious stuff. But we press on committed to going the distance.  I hope that the example of marriage we have lived out for our children is greatly different than the examples I had.  I hope they see it as something worth every effort it takes to keep it going.  I hope they see it as something to be cherished and not tossed aside. In today's disposable, me first world, this goes against the flow.

If you want a marriage that goes the distance, put God in the center and live out Galatians 2:20 by the power of Christ.  Set your ego aside and let Christ live through you.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:12

Check out Arms Open Wide by Hillsong United.  Believe that God has a plan for your life, even if you are simply crossing the street, and believe that He will give you the power to go the distance in whatever He has called you to do.

This post was written as part of a 31 day writing challenge.  To read more of my stories in the challenge, click on my 31 days link.  Thanks!

No comments:

Post a Comment