Thursday, April 28, 2016

15 years ago...

Fifteen years ago tonight, I was packing a ridiculously overstuffed suitcase to go on my honeymoon, (that suitcase the airline left behind in Miami for an entire day and night after we got to Barbados. If one more person had said, “It’s your honeymoon, you don’t need clothes,” there would have been violence.) But I digress. That evening, I sat in my childhood bedroom floor having a long talk with my brother about marriage and our parents and life in general. As I ALWAYS do, I stayed up way too late and didn’t wake refreshed on the morning of our wedding.

But nothing could hold me back! Not exhaustion, not forgetting to unlock the church for the florist, not locking my keys in the car at the beauty salon. Nothing could break my purposeful stride toward that altar.

I remember very clearly having a headache and taking a Goody's powder that I now know was the cause of my head feeling as though it would spin off my neck with anxiety -think Linda Blair minus the pea soup. I’m grateful to my brother-in-law, David Putman for making a turbo trip to the Douglas Texaco to get a Little Debbie oatmeal pie and a Dr. Pepper to settle my stomach. I also remember very clearly my mother interceding for me with God to bring me peace from the caffeine-induced anxiety occurring about 10 minutes before walking down the aisle. She’s an effective intercessor. My anxiety lifted almost immediately and my excitement returned. 

My daddy, who was never much for big events, crowds and making fusses about simple things like getting married, was the sweetest, most pleasant and smiling person that day. He offered his arm, told me I was beautiful and proudly walked me in, neither of us realizing what a beloved memory he’d leave behind for me to cherish.

We took communion with watermelon Kool-Aid and bits of white sandwich-bread because I also forgot to check on the elements. But as my friend Keena sang, “How Beautiful,” we were reminded that the elements used for communion are symbols, and the body and the blood of Christ were represented. It didn’t affect the covenant. Most importantly, His Spirit was there in Bethany Baptist Church.

It was a beautiful ceremony and wonderful reception. It was everything I’d dreamed of as a little girl.

But what happened in the ensuing years is part of a beautiful tale too, albeit a realistic one. We’ve had seasons of anger, seasons of doubt, days of unforgiveness and self-pity. We’ve made mistakes and not shown grace to each other. We’ve slammed doors (well, I have) and both spoken hateful words filled with blame.

But we’ve remembered and forgiven. We’ve laughed and cried, and laughed and laughed. We’ve appreciated each other. And maybe more so in the past couple of years, we’ve truly empathized one with the other. He’s seen the challenges I face with motherhood and a job worked from home, and treated me to surprise-cooked dinners and cleaned kitchens, unexpectedly bathed children, tucked peacefully (haha) into bed. I’m thankful for a husband who doesn’t shirk his responsibilities to his job, household or his children. I hope I’ve been as understanding with his particular frustrations and taken steps to make his life a little easier and a bit more pleasant as he has for me.

We’ll still have seasons of anger, and seasons of fear, days when we’re tired and sick and aggravated with each other. It’s just being human.

We’ve created, through God’s miracle, three beautiful and exceptional children who amaze us and make us proud and send us a little closer to the edge every day. We planned to have two and God laughed. We’re so grateful for that third little baby bird, the change-in-plans named Bryce. We'll be a hundred years old when they graduate from high school. We’re hoping science creates some youth serum so we can someday appreciate grandchildren – but all in good time! 

The point is, after 15 years, the raised eyebrow and the smile with the tiny space between his two front teeth can still give me butterflies. Heaven knows the butterflies are less frequent than before because we’re often both exhausted and just glad to sit near each other while we gaze, nearly comatose, at the TV, phone or laptop. In other words, we’re fairly normal. But I still think he’s absolutely the handsomest, funniest, smartest, most charming and considerate man. 

My prayer for our marriage is that we always look for the strengths and not dwell on the weaknesses. I pray that we can show our children that our relationship takes precedence over every other relationship except for the one with God. I know we’ll face trials. We were promised that, but I pray that we search for answers in the right place – that as we look forward, we always look up – to the source of our lives, the source of our love, the source of our joy. My prayer is that we know whatever we must face, that with God’s resources, we can tackle it together.

We’ve got a lot of plans, some of which I can see coming to fruition, and some which may, as plans sometimes do, fly away with the wind. I pray for discernment to distinguish our selfish ones from God’s perfect ones.

I’m more grateful than I have words (all evidence to the contrary) for these 15 years. May the next 50 or so find us healthy, with my Jayboat by my side, smiling that crooked smile, holding my hand, kissing me hello and goodbye every single time.

To Jason: my friend; my love; my comedian; my hero, I promise you our little picnic on that private beach we found on the leeward side of Barbados! Thank you for our wonderful past! Here’s to our future. Happy anniversary.

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