How many years has it been?
How long has it been since we say ‘I do’, and how many Valentine’s Day have we been together through?
In almost our two decades together, I’ve lost count on the number of times we’ve fought, then made up afterward.
I’ve kept all the cards you’ve written and tossed all the envelopes away.
It hasn’t always been easy, has it?
You and I — we’re poles apart.
It ain’t Hallmark pretty either.
In fact, it’s been downright real and a little boring, raw and a lot of bearing.
Yeah, you know exactly what I mean.
I’d swapped my heels for flats, my skirts for khakis.
Movie trips became laundry nights. Dinner out became dishes dried.
You saw me trade the sacred hours of prayer into endless rounds of feeding those suckling babies, and the girl with the pure heart you married? — she became the woman battling herself in marriage.
Yet you say it hadn’t been disappointing.
You said that a face well-made is no comparison to a heart well-kept.
You said we’ve won — because the love we’re choosing to stick with and stick through is what’s bringing us forth, breaking us through.
It’s true, revival comes as ripples in the quiet pool of deep love.
You always seal a fight with a kiss.
We’d polarise, and later on compromise — because you believe we should both win, and lose; to each other and for each other.
You want us to rise with new dawns feeling hopeful, and always joyful.
How I appreciate those nights when you don’t shake a bit even when I rattle to bring the roof down.
And how you’d stay up through my haunting thoughts without them battling you, or them belittling me.
You think I am a person, and this is a priority — and so as long as it bothers me, it concerns you. And that makes me feel heard, and valued — despite the fading glow of my youth, and the flabby folds on my waist.
Thank you for walking the whole length of our hallway after a day’s work to land a kiss on me first, then the kids.
Nobody’s ever needed to remind us that it’s never the differences that tear at us, but our failure to rise and mend the gaps that keep us at bay, and indifferent.
And forging this oneness is hard.
Marriage is work, and love a verb –— never a state of eureka, (regardless of whoever’s told you that.)
And when we marry thinking that we’ll find all that we need in one person — romance and riches, security and satisfaction, identity and community — we crumble under the pressure we wrongly assume we deserve.
But this is what freed us:
Marry past your emotions that wax and wane, and your passions that ebb and flow, and you’ll find happiness as the byproduct of holiness.
Something greater happens when we marry to give.
We love larger.
And find that marriage and maturity isn’t a dichotomy. That they can be two sides of the same coin; like sacrifice and satisfaction are, or how giving and receiving become.
And I believe you — you’ve never had to recycle through your words like I’ve never had to cycle through your love, because those words scrawled in ink tell me:
The real, bearing kinda love is strong enough to hold us through our tears and fears, sustain us through our worries and warts, and protect us in our blindest, blundering spots.
Because loving large is about growing our souls large enough to meet each other’s growing needs, about being what each other always needs, about understanding all that we ever need each other to be.
And in almost two decades together, where we see the most imploring places of us begging for a change —
You’ve always somehow managed to edge closer, bend lower, reach farther, be the first to say “I’m sorry” — so I’ve never had to feel so lost in the gulf between us, so we can always find our voices back to pray for impossible solutions in impossible situations.
Yeah, we’ve almost lost our way.
If it hadn’t been for prayers.
If it hadn’t been for the softening, transforming, tender touch of God reviving our dead bones and broken valleys.
“Marriage is the voice of praying impossible prayers in impossible situations for impossible solutions.”
And after two decades of the real, reviving kinda help-us pleas and please? —
I no longer want a love that sweeps me off my feet.
I no longer want a love that fizzles me up firey.
I want a love that keeps showing up, even when we are both desperate to shut each other out.
A love perfecting us and one that’s perfected in us.
A love with no expectation, just all acceptance.
Because it’s true —
When you’re simply reduced to true love —
You aren’t bothered with the fascination of new love.
Or Hollywood’s version of Valentine’s love.
You’re resolute to lower your knee and heighten your sight,
because it’s no longer a romantic ideal that you need to recreate you.
It’s no longer the need to wander around or wonder within.
You start turning around and tuning into,
You start gazing deep into each other’s eyes, and souls and life.
And in giving in to, and giving us up,
We grow full and overflowing.
This sacrifice — is most satisfying.
This kind of everyday holiness is producing everlasting happiness…