Alternately entitled: ” tales from the very. worst wife”
To be honest, this little 4-letter word means more to me today than it those many years ago.
Back then, I barely understood the true meaning of most words even though I thought I knew all I needed to know about this one and another word spelled
Heck, I thought I knew a lot about everything.
Taking a step back to adjust my focus I can clearly recall the scene…
She’s standing there in the upper portion of an Italian restaurant (now a Hooters) between the rented candelabras and before a Justice of the Peace who just happened to play Bridge there every Thursday afternoon. She was their waitress.
Just a slip of a girl….no family present and terrified. This is the first wedding she’s ever attended and it’s her own. There she is, standing in her future mother-in-law’s altered wedding gown, in a god-awful DIY headpiece she made herself, next to a guy she’s only known for 5 months and they’re about to say “we will stay” for the rest of their lives. No, she wasn’t pregnant….just stupid and in love.
She says it. A quick slug to the arm from his brother and Best Man, causes him to snap out of his daze just long enough to stutter his “I will” to the amusement of his family members. And that’s it: they are married.
It was November 16, 1989.
Stay. What did they know about staying?
She……abandoned and left to her own devices against the system of a world that was none too kind. Abandoned by parents who divorced and remarried multiple times and showed no power to stay true to anything or anyone anywhere.
He… no better off, abandoned by his father who likewise left behind a family so wounded that it would take years to repair and recover even a little of what was lost.
What did these two have to offer one another from that day forward?
How would they ever know how to stay?
How could they understand the cost of staying?
They had no idea.
And God would see them though the birth of 3 children and a business, multiple moves, a variety of churches and the death of their mothers. He’d be there in their good and bad decisions, and especially in the sometimes daily hand-to-hand combat with that unseen enemy trying to tear their marriage apart every step of the way.
Yes, God would be there because somehow, even in their ignorance, they knew early on to call out to Him.
Even when staying was simply the last place to stand.
When the enemy would
prowl outside their door
like a wolf in shepherds clothing… and fighting…
sometimes against one another,
sometimes against the God who loves them
and sometimes against
and the skeletons
and the whispers
and the darkness hiding inside their own souls….
they’d fight so hard to stay.
Because leaving is not an option.
Because staying is beautiful.
They’d learn the whole way… how to stay.
Last night I stood at the drugstore counter ready to checkout with an anniversary card in hand. The young clerk and I chatted about the chocolate I was buying for Him [because that’s the way he rolls and I know he’ll share!] She asked me how long we’d been married. When I told her, she sucked in her breath and in amazement asked me:
“What is it like to be with the same man for so many years?“
I had to stop for a moment. Truth is, no one had ever asked me that question before and I really didn’t know how to answer. On this particular day, no lie…it felt like hell.
It had been a horrible day in our history and I wasn’t really up to the task of locating an “I-love-you-Baby-with-all-my-heart” anniversary card. It wasn’t the first such day and it surely wouldn’t be the last.
Today has been wonderful and to be honest, there have been many more days like today than those like yesterday and I know by now to hang on for tomorrow; if God even gives us a tomorrow.
It’s because days like yesterday mix and mingle their flavors with the flavors of days like today and the result is the richness of relationship necessary to keep these two sinners hanging on to one another and clinging to God with all their might.
It’s the Holy Spirit’s staying power: God gives us the power we need to stay.
So tonight, I can celebrate that I do know what it means. I understand the cost and I’m willing to pay the price…
knowing It’s not a perfect relationship….
but it is a beautiful marriage.
And the only reason we know is because these two people were given the courage, by the grace of God to stay through it all just one more day.