When people get married, they can’t conceive of what life will be like way down the line.
John and I celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary this past Sunday. (Yes, I was seven when we got married.) We couldn’t know what being together that long would look like. Not on our wedding day.
I’m a big picture person. Not that big a picture.
I knew I wasn’t adult enough to be married. To be responsible. To intentionally have to think of someone other than myself.
Dad grabbed my hand and put it through his arm as we prepared to move with the swelling notes of the Wedding March. He looked at me and said, “You can do this.”
And then he race-walked me down the aisle. Veil flowing behind me. Runaway Bride style. I think he feared I’d bolt had we done as we’d rehearsed.
I was scared. Immature. Mom had handled the details of the wedding, so I’d become an interested bystander in the planning.
I knew there was no turning back.
But when I stood next to John, in front of our pastor, I knew. This was the best choice I could have made. Knew without a doubt that being with him, committing to him, was what I wanted to do.
I look back on these forty years, and it hasn’t always been romance and candlelight. We’ve had our times of crises and problems. Raising six kids has stretched us in ways we hadn’t expected. Hadn’t been prepared for. We’ve been each other’s best friend, and yet sometimes that’s looked very adversarial. But we’re in it together. For the long haul. The “D” word has never been an option.
One of our favorite movies is Parenthood, made in 1989, with Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen. It’s the story of a couple trying to be good spouses, good parents amidst family that challenges sanity at every level.
There’s one scene in particular where Grandma is talking to the couple. The frustration is tangible, and Grandma begins sharing how she and Grandpa had gone to the amusement park when she was 19. She loved the roller coaster. She couldn’t imagine being on something that made her feel frightened, scared, sick, excited and thrilled all at once.
She admitted some folks don’t like roller coasters. They’d rather ride the merry-go-round. But all you do is go round and round.
You get more out of the roller coaster.
Marriage. A guaranteed roller coaster.
The ride is worth it.
You read of all the celebrities today that spend millions on the dream wedding. Throwing a bash that could equal the GNP of a small country.
They forget about the day after. And all those days after. When it’s work to choose to believe the best. Work to choose to forgive. Work to grow up. That becoming one is more than sex. It’s oneness of heart, mind and soul as well.
God intended it that way. We function best that way.
These forty years have been the best of my life. Not the easiest. Definitely the most challenging. But the best.
I love roller coasters.
Buckle up, folks. The ride will be a bumpy one.
But it’s well worth the cost.