Tuesday, March 26, 2013
These are two people who only think they have weathered adversity just to reach this moment in white silk and red ribbon roses before the altar. They have no idea of the road that lies ahead, of the inconceivable betrayals, losses, and hardships that will cleave their young hearts while carving deep canyons and gorges across their foreheads.
They have no idea the sacrifices husbands and wives must make for one another, that remaining constant to their wedding vows will not come naturally but will be a conscious choice. All they know is that they believe they have been God-ordained to become husband and wife, that they are deeply in love. And love is enough.
Only it's not. Love isn't enough. It never is, no matter the romance genre's propaganda.
This hard truth they learn not long into their marriage. With a round of the flu less than a month from the day they say "I do" and an unemployed husband completing his first year in law school, there is no honeymoon phase.
The new wife who has spent her girlhood barefoot on the family place in the country where neighbors are more than friends now lives in the foreign concrete jungle of the city where doors are bolted tight, windows are heavily shaded, and nameless neighbors are never home to befriend. Her every evening is spent completely alone in the apartment as husband studies at the coffee shop through the wrought-iron gate next door. Saturdays, she escapes back to the country, stuffing her cup full with every possible ounce of family love and happiness to last an entire week.
By their first anniversary, she has taken a second, then a third job to start paying down the twenty grand in interest-bearing loans husband took out during his first year. Her husband, too, takes a day job as soon as school permits, adding that to his already full plate.
Even still, these difficulties are child's play compared to the trials they will be called upon to endure over the next few years. When all others fall away and there are no words left to say, they will have to choose--to weep, mourn, and cling to each other and the firm foundation of God. Or to escape where life has brought them and be carried alone out into the universe.
Once children in their late twenties, husband and wife are now nearing forty's mile marker. His hair is thinner, hers mixed with sparkling strands of silver. Time etches their laughter and worry lines deeper with each passing year.
No longer is their any shyness between the couple when the camera woman asks them to turn to face each other, her hand on his chest. As before, he whispers a joke only she can hear. This time, though, he is only seeking to make her smile, not break any discomfort. They both laugh aloud at this shared intimacy. Their open faces reveal two people who now know each other better than anyone else...and who still love one another.
Their smiles reflect not the easy laughter of youth and an untried relationship but rather the deeper, more abiding joy only developed over time as each has chosen time and again to stand in the fire--side by side, hand in hand. It is a smile of trust, honor, and respect, as if the one's very spirit is connected by an invisible, glistening strand to the other's.
There before the blossoms is a picture of a love that has been built on the firm foundation of Christ alone.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night. (Matthew Arnold, "Dover Beach.")
at 7:22 PM