Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Love Story


Sixteen years ago today I trudged through foot-deep snow up Prospect Hill, hand-in-hand with the love of my life and quite suspicious that he was up to something involving sparkle. I borrowed his mom's snow boots and winter coat since a girl from North Carolina did not have an arsenal of wintry garb like a proper Michigan girl would have.
I can't recall all of the words but he was on one knee, professing real love, holding out a diamond ring and asking me to marry him. I was crying so hard that I couldn't even get out a "yes," just vigorous nodding and tears and wondrous disbelief that he chose me, a girl who was fickle about everything but him.
I don't even remember the trip back down the hill. I just know that I was happier than I'd ever been. And I would need every bit of it to sustain me through wedding stress and living apart for the entire summer and the muffled sobs in my family's living room closet because I had no privacy with five other people living in the house. He told me I'd regret elopement and that we could make it to August 12th. And he was right.

I thought that once we got married, those difficult, sobbing-in-the-closet days would be behind us and I could simply bask in the happy love that floated my blissful self down Prospect Hill on February 10, 1995.
We didn't know it then but trudging up that snow-covered mountain for the proposal was more symbolic than it was romantic. For 16 years we have hiked and labored and slid to the bottom and climbed back up again and plateaued and...you get the picture. There were times I wanted to make it to the top for no other reason than to push him off the dang thing. I know he feels the same way about me.
They don't make Hallmark cards for that occasion.
Both first-borns and terribly strong-willed, we hold on to pride and are prone to just a wee bit of blame-shifting. We have loved hard and fought hard. But first-born or not, marriage is simply not for the faint of heart.
The Man and I, we love each other something fierce and our strong-willedness came in handy when we were fighting for our marriage.
But love and will are not enough.
And while our story, half-written though it is, is one of grace and triumph, the daily work to make marriage {in this season} something other than cohabitative child-rearing is challenging.
Yesterday we exchanged sharp words with clenched jaws and folded arms. Resentment swallowed us whole and we hardly looked at one another until the morning when we once again commenced to finger-pointing. And as he left for work, I felt wretched and sick.
There is no joy in holding tight to blame.
Midmorning, we talked on the phone and relief came. The making up was not the stuff of movies. His shirt-and-tied self sitting in his office, my pajama'd-self hiding behind locked door from the three-year-old who thinks that getting his fire-truck fixed is more important than fixing a marriage. There was no glorious fanfare and smeary kissing and You had me at hello. We simply laid down our swords and 'fessed up to the ugly.
Between the busy and the baggage, the babies and the burnout, our issues tend to get pushed aside. Love smolders like a day-old campfire instead of the blaze it once was. We feel neglected and disrespected, overwhelmed and overlooked. I choked out on the phone, I work so hard to meet everyone's needs and I feel like I'm not enough. He said he feels the same way.
And so here we are, two totally insufficient people trying to be all things to all people and failing miserably.
That's because being fully enough for one another and for everyone else is impossible. And while we all nod our heads in agreement over that statement, we tend to live each and every day in opposition of what we say we believe.
This week we have repented and forgiven and resolved to take a hard look at this crazy beautiful season of life. Resolved to make our relationship a priority in the midst of children and homeschooling and throw-up and too much laundry.
And I remind myself that even the noblest of resolutions will fall short.
Because there is only One who is enough. Daily, I haul my baggage and brokenness and cluelessness and give it to Him. Boldly, I ask for perspective and fresh love. I thank Him for the gift of my marriage and I remember all that He has done, all that He has given.
And so I have faith for all that He will do and provide...this merciful, rich-beyond-measure God who is always enough.
And that's the real Love Story.

15 comments:

  1. Love it. :)

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  2. Indeed, it is! Thank you, as always, for your refreshing honesty & perspective.

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  3. Scooper,
    *Gulp* trying to swallow the big lump in my throat! These are some powerful words.
    Thank you so much for the reminder of what is really important. I pray that you and The Man keep running to Him. As I pray the same for me and mine.
    with love.

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  4. Scooper, I thought it before, but now I know it. You need to write a book. This is it--your book--this trudging up the hill and sliding back down and clamoring back up again. This is your story.

    You write it well. You live it well. And you express what so many of us experience in the day-to-day living out of love.

    And so many will relate to this, to your transparency and willingness to let us peek into your tear-filled closet.

    I don't say these things to everyone and I have a really good track record for picking winners. You are one of those winners, Scooper. Not many people can write this way and express it all so well. You have a book in you, sweet friend!

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  5. My dear Friend....
    Thank you for your honest words. Thank you for telling it like it really is. Marriage IS hard. It DOES have its ups and downs. It DOES take work. I know we have days where we feel more like room-mates instead of husband and wife. Thank you for the reminder to go to the only ONE who can sustain us and get us through. Thank you for telling your story - it helps me to take a deeper look at mine.
    Know you guys are loved!

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  6. Proud of you, your transparency, your commitment to you marriage and children and the realization that when we do all we can and realize it is enough, He makes up the difference . . . when we yield control to Him. You don't have to ask how I know that.
    Love,
    Dad

    P.S. As others have said, "You have the gift of communication. You always have."

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  7. The hill . . . the closet . . . the One. You are writing a book. I, too, hope that one day it takes the form of what the world considers a "book."

    What you are allowing Him to sculpt out of the stuff of life is honest, strong, and enduring. Daily, I pray that you two will always give Him freedom to use the knife as He wills. That we all will.

    I love you both . . . and all.

    LYF

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  8. I'm a few years behind you, marriage-wise, but facing the same icy hill. Telling God every day that I trust Him with my marriage, and then trying to act like it.

    I'm so glad for your honesty here, and for your willingness to share your life. :)

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  9. I once heard "We can not be all things to all people all by ourselves."
    I loved it. It reminds me that I need God.
    I'd heard the first part before but it left out God. With God I believe we are what we need to be when we need to be it and the rest falls away like the chaff (sp?).

    You are a beautiful, hiding in the closet, sweet, dear friend. I love your stubbornness, your strong willed nature and your selfless heart.

    God made you YOU. And I love you mess and all.
    Julie

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  10. Just a total stranger who wants you to know how thankful I am for your honesty. As someone who is walking in that "sliding back down the mountain" place, it's a good feeling to know others have walked the road, too.

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  11. That love smoldering like a day-old campfire about knocked me out of my seat this morning. Yes. This is what it does...I love your story - I love your honest. We all have had that same fight, haven't we?

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  12. Simply beautiful. And oh, so true. Us too. Together for 14 years, 5 of them relatively "happy" (not all in a row, either). All the rest clinging and climbing and clashing. Thank you for sharing this.

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  13. I have the time, 'hello'. I like this post since the first month of my marriage I visited our closet weekly, full of tears wondering what I had done. Ahhh, the things I could confess. You have a great story that is a blessing to others and so close to home.

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