14 years and counting...
Fourteen years ago, I was nervously enduring photos. My mother and me, my father and me, my brothers and me, my 3 closest friends and me. In the other room, I knew there was someone whose stomach was just as jumbly, whose hands were just as clammy, whose mouth was just as dry.
Later, as I walked down the aisle, I felt an "out of body" disbelief that I was really going to do this. I was really going to make promises FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE, not knowing what I was going to experience along the way.
My dad was teary-eyed, which I had never seen before. My mom was misty as well. My betrothed looked like he was going to throw up, pale, but bright eyed. And then I hugged my dad goodbye, and I turned to the man who was to be my partner for the rest of our days. I had the same feeling as the one time I went cliff diving. Ready or not, JUMP! Fear, but exhileration.
We have had some very productive years. Seven children, 3 moves, a company begun and continued.
We have had lots of fun together ~ one of the main reasons I even went out with him twice was because he made me laugh so often.
We have had lots of hurts. It is amazing how you can wound and be wounded by the love of your life. We have needed every day of these 14 years to realize that our personal happiness is not the point of being married. That love really is giving til it hurts, and then forgiving the hurt and being willing to give again. And we have not always been in sync with this notion of mutual self-donation. When both people are equal in their sacrificial love, it isn't so difficult, really. But when you are out of sync, and one gives while the other one takes, and then you switch off because now "it's my turn to get", well, love suffers.
We have had joy beyond words welcoming each of our seven children, despite the fact that many times they were not "planned" and therefore caused us worry and fear. The Saturday mornings when we have a passel of children in our bed, or when we are eating dinner and we look around the table and see the abundance of our lives, these are the times we have no words for our gratitude; we look into each other's eyes across all the children, or the long table, and share a deep gaze of amazement.
We are two first-born children, who always think we are right, and yet rarely have the same ideas. We have many opportunities to practice negotiations, and as we get older, being right isn't quite as important as it used to be. We have learned the hard way that being right can come at a heavy cost. It is rarely worth the price our love pays.
We married in our late twenties, and had for the most part assumed we would never meet someone who "fit". It all happened quickly; met in January, engaged in March, married in October, became homeowners in April and parents in July. And then another baby the year after that, then another, and another, and so on.
It is only just recently the whirlwind has slowed enough for me to really look at my life. How did I get from Professional, Single and content to Married, mom to many and truly filled up? So quickly. Where did all these people come from, and how did they get so deep in me, so deep that I am changed forever?
And our story is just begining in so many ways. The idea of "True Love" has changed dramatically for me, anyway. I am realizing just how much of a burden I put on him to create for me the perfect romance. How disappointment can poison a relationship. How fear of suffering and sorrow can limit the amount of love poured out.
Love is a mystery. The love that endures when the "feelings" are low, the love that grows when there is much sorrow, the love that holds us together when we are so upset. That is a mystery. That is grace, and without it, we would never make it.
Love is easy when there is joy and happiness, and completely taken for granted. The love that I am the most grateful for is the love that binds us together when all wordly forces are pulling us apart. It is in this love that I know Christ, I believe in Him, I trust Him, and I love Him. He is the only person that can make sense out of real LOVE. And I thank Him every day that my dear husband loves and trust Him as well. When my husband and I are exhausted and hurt, we can seek refuge in Christ, and Christ always leads us back to each other.
So, that is our story, in a way. We believe that God led us to each other and will hold us together. We believe He sent us our children as gifts and lessons. We believe we are each other's "path to heaven". We look forward to being old together and then praising God together for all eternity.