Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary. We were just finishing up a two week camping trip in Canada, Maine and New Hampshire (I'll blog more about our trip when I resurface from under the laundry pile), and decided to push the whole way home in one day.
And so our special way of celebrating our 20 years of wedded bliss was driving 929 miles with all our kids and the camper in tow. All told, it took 19 hours, due to general stops for eating and potty, aaaand a blown tire on the pop-up.
The tire blew on interstate 90 just outside of Buffalo, New York. It was about 4:00 in the blazing 93 degree sun as my eyes moved between the roaring traffic, the suburban full of our children, and my husband efficiently changing the tire. As I watched, I prayed continually. I prayed that the drivers flying by would be cautious, that our children would be calm, safe and cool enough, and that my husband would be able to change the tire without incident. And I also gave thanks that the tire was on the passenger side and my husband wasn't right next to the 70+ mph traffic. I thanked God for a hundred things - no rain, no darkness, no freezing temperatures, no desolate road with no cell signal. And I also gave thanks, repeatedly, for my husband's calm, capable, can-do attitude.
At 4:00 20 years prior, my husband and I had been standing in the cool church, dressed in our finest, exchanging our vows. We stood there, at ages 23 and 24, pledging our lives to one another. . .for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death parts us.
And we had no real idea what the heck we were saying. Sure, our intentions were good, our love was real and solid, but no one has any idea exactly what life will bring. As I stood on the side of the road, watching him take care of what I most certainly would not have been able to do, I was reminded just what marriage is about. It is these things, these shared moments, this journey together. A quote from a favorite movie of mine, Yours, Mine and Ours (1968 version) suddenly came to mind. In the movie, a man and a woman marry (he with 10 kids and she with 8), and in this scene, the wife is about to give birth to their first child together, while the wife's eldest daughter is pleading for advice about "proving" her love to her boyfriend. Her new stepfather gives her this advice:
I've got a message for Larry. You tell him this is what it's all about. This is the real happening. If you want to know what love really is, take a look around you(...)
It's giving life that counts. Until you're ready for it, all the rest is just a big fraud. All the crazy haircuts in the world won't keep it turning. Life isn't a love in, it's the dishes and the orthodontist and the shoe repairman and... ground round instead of roast beef. And I'll tell you something else: it isn't going to a bed with a man that proves you're in love with him; it's getting up in the morning and facing the drab, miserable, wonderful everyday world with him that counts.
I stood there, watching my husband take care of what needed to be done, and I was struck with the gloriousness of our shared life together. While we weren't filled with the same kind of angst as the teenage daughter, the father's words apply to us, and all married couples as well. Love is a choice. A choosing to get up together each day and face life -- the good, the hard, the beautiful, the exhausting, the journey together.
And it's amazing. God's blessings in marriage are countless. With each passing year, my husband and I are more intertwined as we share our lives with each other. That's true love.