Ed and I were talking about how long he’s lived in this area – 15 years. Fifteen years at our church. He moved from Zambia to the Main Line and has spent essentially a third of his life here- longer, he noted, than any other place he’s ever lived.
It got me to thinking. We’ve been married since January of 2001; twelve years – about a third of my life. While marriage is not a place, it is certainly a state. It’s one that changes a person more, i think, than the place that one lives. Maybe change is not the right word.
Marriage refines and sculpts.
The flotsam and jetsam of self, the frivolousness of selfishness is peeled away and the self that remains is better and truer….and just as likely to (pardon my lack of subtlety) screw up.
For me, and I think for most Christians, marriage has meant a surrendering of self to the other. It works awesome when you are both looking out for the others best interest; being human and sinful and stubborn, it doesn’t always work out that way.
Marriage has been a see saw. Normally one of us is excelling at the surrendering while the other is being a real pill. I am more often, I believe, the pill than the surrenderer.
I could joke about it and say I’m merely enabling my husband to qualify for sainthood, but the truth is for
some many things, my learning curve is pretty terrible. I excel at pride and internal frustration and that can make life rather difficult for my husband. But twelve years into this divesting of self it is getting easier. Parenting our children together has helped. Loving, teaching and helping them grow in their love and knowledge of God has better exposed my own deficiencies far than exchanging unkind words with my husband.
Twelve years and we’ve never yelled at each other. We’ve disagreed, discussed, maybe sulked a bit – but no yelling. No belittling. No meanness. All of which I’m grateful for and have learned from.
Marriage is a forge and sometimes, baby, it is hot. And uncomfortable. But the beauty of those moments when we are getting things right – when that see saw is balanced perfectly – when a shared glance is a conversation – friends, that is a shadow of heaven.