Once upon a time, in a far away place, a groom and a bride said, “I do!” With the sparkle of hope shining in their eyes, the tingle of excitement in their joined hands, dreams of years to come afloat in their minds, they strode gracefully into the opening of their happily ever after.
And then things got CRAZY! Really, really CRAZY!
Welcome to the messy but miracle filled, middle of marriage. This is where we spend the majority of our marriage days. In the middle.
My husband Eric and I recently celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. One of the traditions that we have in our marriage is to have an anniversary dinner where we stroll down memory lane to where we have been and gaze out to the horizon where we hope to go. We found ourselves laughing that perhaps our fairy tale would be more appropriate if “Crazily Ever After” replaced the traditional “Happily Ever After.”
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we do not have happy moments. We have been so richly blessed with happy times sprinkled all over our years together. Happy times like the births of our children, family vacations, date times, parties, naps, trips to the zoo, school programs, family gatherings, and holiday celebrations.
We have a lot of crazy. The kind of crazy that means absurd or out of place. Yes, that is us.
Practice our golf swings with snowballs in January…absolutely (although snowsuits add some resistance to a good swing.) Attempt to see how big of a snowball we can make in our yard…definitely (our record is nearly the size of a hay bale thanks to sticky snow & a good size hill.) Shaving cream fights…hilarious (we’d recommend doing this outside as some forms of shaving gel can damage woodwork.) Eating spaghetti with only your hands…of course (have those wash clothes handy in advance.)
Those are just the kind of silly little things that we do.
There has been a lot of bigger crazy stuff too, job & career transitions, physical location moves, health issues, financial flounders, communication breakdowns, heart aches, hurts, losses, and challenges that seem to have no good answers.
That is the guts of our marriage and our lives together. Our story is crazy, but a lot of the happy comes out of the crazy.
This year we really downplayed our anniversary and kept it low key. It was so quiet it was almost a secret, except for a couple of family members & very close friends who like a good reason to be crazy & celebrate. We did not even go out for the evening, we stayed at home eating Chinese takeout on a tablecloth covered folding table in the lower level of our house, while our kids munched junk food & watched movies upstairs.
It was fabulous. Crazy and sweet and fabulous. It gave us time together just the two of us. Here’s the ironic twist, this is the kind of thing we would have done very early in our marriage. This turned part of our conversation to how we thought we would be in a much different place by this point.
By different place, we do not mean that we wish our marriage relationship with each other was drastically different. We are not perfect by any means. We have had some really big bumps and bruises along the way, but we have had an abundance of precious moments together. The sacred history we share is very special to us.
We find ourselves sitting at a place where things that were once in the far away land of “some day in the future” are now passing through the present and into the past. Where we find ourselves today was not even close to our wildest imaginings 18 years ago.
I’m pretty sure I thought we’d have this “how to live daily life” thing figured out by now. Yet, exhausted and spent, we drag ourselves to bed at night with minds filled with the ponderings of how the next day is going to work itself out.
Where do we need to be? Where do the kids need to be? What does everyone need to take with them? What do they have to do when they get there? What’s on the schedule for later this week? What payments need to be made and to whom do they need to be made out to?
Shouldn’t 18 years of experience together make you wise in the ways of daily life? That’s 6,570 days of practice. Shouldn’t we be a lot closer to our goals than we are right now? Why do we have to keep pushing things further into the future? When will the ends all come together instead of fraying apart?
Have you ever asked yourself these kinds of questions? Have you ever wondered when it would stop being so challenging and start making more sense? Have you ever felt like the happily ever after mirage has melted into a pile of gooey mud?
If you said “yes” to any of these things, you are not alone. I have asked myself these questions and continued to do so.
For all of us I pray this:
“I pray that out of his glorious riches
he may strengthen you with power
through his Spirit in your inner being,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted & established in love, may have power,
together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp how wide & long & high & deep is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge –
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”
Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)
We can spend so much energy, effort, and expense accumulating knowledge and still be confounded by the circumstances of daily life. But in a crazy twist, Christ provides a love that surpasses knowledge.
Love. Love. Love.
When the pages of your book are more “Crazily Ever After” than “Happily Ever After” may the love of Christ be the binding and the cover that holds all of those crazy pages together.