Of Miles and Marriage
Tis the season of emptying the photo cupboard to find various and sundry pictures of your graduate, hoping you don't mix that baby pic up with one of his brothers.
The struggle is real.
Wednesday evening greeted me with a text from the oldest saying, "Tomorrow's Thursday Mom."
And in first-born fashion the provoking came with an attached gift card to you-know-where to get me out of the house for Pete's sake and just write something because he knows I feel alive encouraging with the click of the keys.
So, thanks for that first-born.
How about you never get married and just live with me and support my Panera addiction, Mmmkay?
(You don't have to make a decision right away, just sit on that a while.)
I think I can safely say that if one of my kids came up to me and told me that they too wanted to graduate this year with the other two I'd run for the hills.
The last few months have brought me break downs over meatloaf at SOMEONE ELSE'S HOUSE I had just met and have me reaching for the double stuff Oreos by sheer instinct and dropping them in my shopping cart.
Yes, just sifting through their old pics does that to me.
And in the sifting for history to display on the same make-shift Senior board for the third time now I stumbled upon a little stack of glimpses into the making of this 23 year-old marriage.
These pics are always greeted by the crew with the exact same words every.single.time.
"Wow. Look at those bangs."
Not a hint of appreciation for the three precisely placed curls with the one inch and a half curling iron, the Aussie hairspray keeping it all together or even a moment of silence for the forehead burns that brought the amazingness they are now viewing.
Nope. No clue.
And I laugh because there's SO much more than bangs in these pics that they have NO CLUE about.
There has risen a generation that knows not snack shop shop nachos, serious rooms, off-campus dates, or even the coolness of bright white socks with bright white Keds.
I'm sad for them actually.
And these kids who came from two people getting demerits for "loitering" in the library remind me that even though they are the closest to us, they are not "us."
They only know through stories what it was like writing notes and hiding them from chaperones on ensemble.
Or how we had to save seats at dinner for each other and hope beyond hope that we had actually signed-up for that evening's meal.
Recently I was able to enjoy endless hours with college girlfriends and I forgot what laughing over college does for the soul.
The food, the way to beat the pass system (Ahem, you know who you are.) the girl who weighed herself in the "buff," surviving on prehistoric brownies from the vending machine, late night study hours hoping that just sitting by the smart girl would rub off on you, dates to the Christmas banquet you regret and too many things to leave on this page.
Some things are better off in the gut-laughs of 40's something friends.
Some times I feel like memories are like miles traveled.
Miles that you can describe to someone who never knew the same road and won't ever carry the weight like the dust you remember getting in your own shoes.
To me this makes the distance covered with a particular someone even more precious.
You only have a single road, for a single moment with a single individual.
Goodness that's marriage, is it not?
When I draw out Joel and I's 23 years as a road in my mind I immediately recognize a few potholes I thought we'd be stuck in til today.
Why do we always return to the hard before the good when looking through our heart's eye?
I shrug the thought off and head to the very beginning where we thought that this was our road to conquer as a couple who were committed and would eventually see everything the very same.
After all, we WERE one flesh.
Oh my. This actually makes me laugh out loud to type.
If we're honest, I mean really reeelly honest can we just admit that this has brought it's own set of newlywed problems to many couples, most of all ourselves?
Somewhere along the Baptist way, "one flesh" meant "one brain, one goal, one set of abilities and even one taste in music, bless God!"
And twenty-ish years down this road we laugh on an overnight in Pittsburg that we let ourselves think we had to be just like the other for so long.
Hadn't our differences brought us to life? Brought us to a wonderful way to work together and compliment each other?
When I stopped becoming angry that he wasn't a mind-reader and he stopped wondering why on earth I had opinions different than those he had grown up with, our marriage found a newly asphalted patch that sure ran smooth.
I love cheap gas station frozen pizzas and he loves black coffee.
He leaves his socks on the floor every single day and I look at a shower before eleven-thirty as early morning.
We can read the very same Bible verse and get two totally different perspectives out of it.
And in order to enjoy that you need to just take your hand's off of the other's personality.
You may want to give that personality a little choke-hold some Saturdays when you want to rest and watch cooking shows and he wants to begin twelve new ministries, but I know that he'd like to hide my personality when I decide that midnight is the perfect time to discuss the persecuted church and how we can perfect every thing at church.
Give me all the soft places on bodies, in parenting, and in ministry any day of the week over the smaller sizes, frustrated hearts, wondering if I really could be a parent to this brood, or if we could be all things to all people.
We're more rounded, but in all ways well-rounded and I'll take it.
Don't get me wrong, there's been long seasons of road work.
Cones that reminded us that things were torn-up and needed replaced ASAP.
Sometimes you detour to work on the ugly that comes with flesh/flesh situations, and you remember that traveling in the Spirit is so much more enjoyable when you take the time to check yourself before checking another.
I'm not one for renewing vows in an elaborate ceremony but in keeping them moment by moment each day, each turn in the road.
If you had told me that my time in God's Word bowing low to the will of the Lord himself and his words would make a strong marriage I wouldn't have believed you.
That loving his law, making it my delight would aid me in delighting in another person, I'd have laughed.
When waistlines mattered, good cooking, compatibility, even love languages took those first places.
But I know better now.
Like I know that homemade cakes aren't really worth the hassle, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my own crazy wonderful walk with the Lord is the most important ingredient in sharing a life with another soul.
A soul in tune with their own failings walking with the Lord is then ready to keep walking beside another broken individual.
What a balm humility is.
My two youngest found our guest book from our wedding and showed us that years ago they were so sad that they weren't part of our special day that they decided to sign their names on the last page just as if they were.
I laugh at their scribbles in pen at how cute it is to see them want to be acknowledged right there with us when we became a couple.
And I think hard on that for days to come.
They are here NOW, watching every argument, every humbling, and every laugh over burnt short ribs.
They are our guests to the mess of busy, the preciousness of a forehead kiss and a "no you are not sleeping in my bed with my wife and I."
They hear the sweet words, see the coming behind at the stove to snuggle while making dinner, and know when we are frustrated with each other over forgotten milk at the store.
I hope at the end of the day, they rest in the glue of grace that has kept us together, enjoy hearing their Dad say that he'd rather be with Mom than anyone else on a deserted island and that we look forward to them leaving so no one tries to steal the raw sugar on our homemade cappuccinos.
I see now, as we have half our nest emptying that if our marriage wasn't lovely and growing we would want to cling to these kids instead of celebrating their launch into God's big wide world.
We look forward to watching them walk their own roads and pray to finish our own well before them.
Here's to the miles ahead, Joel.