We feel the lurch in our stomachs and the skip in the beating of our hearts, the flush in our cheeks and the upward turn of our lips and we know. We know that there has been a shift. When I fell in love I felt like I was on a roller coaster. That anticipation of what comes around the corner, how it would feel getting to the highest point, that rush of excitement and uncertainty; it was amazing.
Falling in love with my husband was the easiest and most exciting time of my life. The fresh and new merging into certainty and assurance was life giving. It was beautiful. Never in my life have I smiled as hard or as big as I did during our courtship. Until of course, our wedding day. I am told that I nearly ‘vibrated off the stage’ with giddy anticipation to boldly proclaim, “I WILL” and proudly be reintroduced to our crowd of loved ones as Mrs. to this Mr. that I loved so much.
And then suddenly it felt as though we were on an entirely different ride.
The phrase the game of life is a common one but what do we call the ride of life? I should attempt to coin it so that I can use it here. Dating and the process of engagement are amazing opportunities to stretch and grow in expectation and hope. There is forever that “What if we get married?” or “When we are married.” And then comes the highly anticipated wedding and then you ARE MARRIED.
AND THEN WHAT?
I was not born into a home of ‘leading by example.’ I was born into a home where marriage looked like prison. I looked at marriage as a suffocating land of lost identity and dreams. Love existed as a strained obligation. Until, finally, the bond of commitment could no longer be seen through and our family shattered into the five fragments that had tirelessly fought to preserve the image of something that had never existed. I was familiar with love. There was no shortage of the word in our home. I am certain I heard it on a regular basis.
But love is not (just) a word. Love is a person who calls us into action. Love is a verb. Love is in the doing.
I romanticized love my entire life. It was always whimsical like the Lady of Shallot, with intense emotions and insurmountable odds. I confused intimacy with sex and love with the movies.
And then I met my husband.
I have not one doubt that divine intervention was at work that day seven years ago as we walked throughout a conservation area; that God’s hand was in it. Through this man I now call husband I learned the true meanings of words (which, if you know me at all, you can appreciate the substantial beauty of these revelations).
In doing life with this man I have learned that intimacy isn’t an act, it’s a combination of moments, a sharing of quirks, hopes and dreams. It’s about laughing for too long and too hard at the strangest thing, it’s about being safe in a space that is just for the two of us and that that space is wherever we are together.
In doing life with this man I have learned the significance of commitment. How doing the hard thing when every impulse screams the easy way out is the worthwhile thing. Love is a listening ear when all you want is to be the voice. In doing life with this man I have learned that love isn’t just a word that I hear, but in the daily sacrifices. Sacrifices that are equally a privilege in the daily example of being love to one another. Love is in the quiet spaces, in the laughter and the tears. Love isn’t about loosing yourself through reckless abandon but in the personal growth of acknowledging that through marriage it just isn’t about you alone anymore.
As we enter into ‘wedding season’ I think of the scripture reference from 1 Corinthians that is so frequently sighted. ‘And the greatest of these is love’ which is true but only if there is an understanding of what that actually means. The apostle John described it beautifully here:
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
Every morning that we wake up we need to die to ourselves. As a believer, this is in reference to dying to our ‘flesh’ (for some churchy jargon) but in marriage it is to die to ourselves not in the sense that we lose who we are but in understanding that it is not just about us ever again.
It’s a brand new love.
During this summer time wedding season, as more hearts publically pledge their love and commitment to one another, this is my prayer to them.
That moving forward with this understanding of love that (to quote more scripture) you “love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 Marriage isn’t about ‘me and you’ marriage is about the ‘us’. To me marriage is the greatest blessing, roots to what I hope will be a beautiful forest of trees that will bear fruit that feeds our world with the purest form of love; action.