The saying by Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get,” resonates with so many in our society. For the most part, I would agree with this statement. So many times our circumstance take us on paths we never expected and/or imagined. Yet, through each walk, each moment, we are defined and refined and hopefully, it is for the better of others, and ourselves, but mostly for the glory of God.
Our lives and our paths are most often determined by our choices, we actually can choose the type of chocolate, the type of mate, the type of marriage we want…..we don’t need to aimlessly and carelessly hope for the best piece…..then hope we are satisfied.
Today, we are bombarded with the idea that “anything goes,” do what makes us happy, and if things get too hard, then quit and move on to something else….to greener pastures…something that fulfills our immediate needs and desires.”
Thus, words such as marriage and love become words of convenience and compromise, lacking in faith and commitment.
I must confess, when asked to share my experience and thoughts regarding my marriage, I humbly laughed because I will be the first to tell you that I for sure do not have nor do I claim to have the perfect marriage or life. I also will tell anyone and everyone that marriages should be based on I Corinthians 13, that marriage is hard and requires work and commitment, and that your mate and others will always fail you, but it is our wonderful Father who will never fail us, leave us, or stop loving us. It is in Him we need to put our trust.
My “love story” may seem odd and unlikely, especially in today’s norm. You, see I fell in love when I was in high school and married my husband shortly after graduation. Everyone (teachers, mentors, close friends and even family) discouraged me from getting married so young. I was told to live it up and experience life and settle down when I got older.
Yet, for me I never desired to go out and “live it up” for I believed “living it up” was sharing life with the man I loved. I had been raised in the church my entire life and was blessed to have a heritage of long marriages in my family from my great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents.
I knew that my husband, Mark, had all the traits I desired: Christian, country boy, good Christian family, funny, smart, ambitious, and he loved kids. I was just blessed to have found him so early.
Thus, we vowed on June 20, 1987 before God and our family and friends to love and cherish each other till death do we part. We were going to live happily ever after.
Then life truly began.
Two bachelor degrees, two master’s degrees and other certifications between the two of us (which equated to almost 10 years of school), two kids, six job changes and nine moves has equated to quite a roller coaster ride.
People may look at us now and think, “Their lives are so easy…they have all these things.” Yet, they have not seen the sacrifices and/or traveled the long road with us.
There were many days I didn’t like my husband very much and I know he felt the same towards me. There were days when the kids were sick and we were physically exhausted and wanted to just “get away,” days when he was stressed from work and came home in a mood, days when we were just selfish and ugly, and days when we had to once again tell our children that we were moving because of dad’s work, but one thing was for certain, we had each other and God would take care of us.
We knew our marriage was an investment and that love was not built on “raw physical” (though that is how most of our relationships begin) or just a moment of elation, but rather it’s a commitment, a choice we make to love this person (flaws and all) and grow old with them. Mark and I made time for each other and always tried to share many of the same interests and activities. My needs were different than his needs and we each needed to be in tune to each other’s feelings and desires. It’s a choice we make every day, just as we choose to serve God. It’s a mindset that “I love you just as you are and I’m not going to keep trying to change you, but love you unconditionally like Christ loves his church.”
This past year has been one like no other. My daughter became engaged in June and married in November. The wedding ring she selected was one with three bands based on the scripture from Ecclesiastes 4:12, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” My daughter and son-in-law know that a strong and happy marriage has God as the center, holding it all together. My husband and I have prayed for her and the man she would someday marry since she the day she was born and I love that God is faithful and that we are witnessing His goodness.
Today, we are empty-nesters and I am struggling like never before. Twenty years of having a houseful of kids with laughter, noise, fights, and tears…..just seems like it went away……in the blink of an eye. Now, my husband and I are alone again and trying to work through this next chapter in our lives.
While having the “woe is me” attitude last week, my dear friend who just lost her husband of 27 years to cancer called. She was sad and lonely and needed a shoulder. The one thing she said has helped me reevaluate and appreciate all those “little things” we all so take for granted: “you know, I have no one to come home and vent to, I have no one to sit with me in church, I have no one to help resolve issues with my kids, I have no one to call to say I made it or I am on my way home. I have no one to hold me.”
Love is a wonderful thing.
Marriage is a gift….an opportunity to “do life” with the one we love. Now through much prayer and gratitude, I am focusing my attention back to my husband and to our marriage (though I am still in transition…not going to lie). God has richly blessed me with health, a loving family, wonderful friends, and most importantly a spouse who loves me and shares this life on earth with me. “For every good and perfect gift comes from the Father.” James 1:17