I woke this morning with a sense of ache over time- the beautiful ache that comes when you remember the good things about your life. So many times I wish I've recorded more of it, but sometimes you get too busy living life to take time to ponder it and record the special things.
I remember starting to notice David for the first time as someone I could spend the rest of my life with. How could a girl in her right mind not fall in love with him? I loved everything about him, and the more I got to know, the more I loved. Love sneaks up on you sometimes. I loved his boyish grin and his eccentric shirts. I loved his bouncing gait and his attention deficit in a crowd. I loved the freckles on his face, and the red birthmark that always made it look like his pink-lipstick-adorned grandma kissed him on the cheek. And I loved to watch him with people, treating them as though they meant something and that they were important to him. I felt I understood him, and he seemed to understand me, but not in a forceful or assuming way, for there is always more to discover about a person. We discovered love together without trying, and it felt like fireworks.
The engagement and the wedding followed shortly, and we were off!! Building a life in a tiny gray house we bought with a black mailbox and black numbers stuck to it's siding. "4926" - our first address. We had the time of our lives in that little house. I personally didn't think I would ever want to live in anything bigger. I was so happy there, and it felt like that season would last forever. We built a snowman and had designated hot chocolate nights (alright... hot chocolate night was almost every night for a while). We had no television, so we would curl up in bed and watch Netflix movies on his computer (with our hot chocolate). I baked muffins, and cookies, and pies, and tried my hand out at new dinners. My favorite thing was to have the house shining clean, candles and music flickering, and dinner in the works when David got home from work. He loved it, always making a huge fuss about how great my dinner was, or how beautiful the house looked. We went hunting and fishing together (I mostly napped), and enjoyed our first family vacation with his family at Myrtle Beach, then with my family in Kennebunkport, ME. We shared Christmas Day at our own house, and swapped visiting our families between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.
Being a newlywed seemed to last for so long, and sometimes I feel like we're still there. Life does bring changes, though, and changes in life bring change your relationship. In May of this year we were called to Fayetteville, Arkansas where David would pastor the college students at Cross Church. We moved in June. I had never so quickly gone through so many changes in life before. We moved 15 hours away from our little gray house in a matter of 2 weeks, leaving family and friends scattered up and down the east coast in order to obey the call we knew was placed in both of us... Reach Northwest Arkansas college students with the gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples among them, teaching them what walking with Christ means. David became so much more than a perfect playmate- we became partners in a mission assigned by God. The changes have been difficult at times. Packing everything you own and moving half-way across the country to start a ministry from scratch is not something you want to do every day. The stresses could have worn us down, but our relationship stands on a firm foundation. Through all of these changes I have not lost the love and the deep affection I have for that boyish grin. I still love all those things that I loved back then, but I love them differently now... not with fireworks, but in a slow steady way that happens every day.
There have been times in my marriage, just as in the other parts of my life, when I have felt identity crisis. I clearly remember mourning over the loss of my maiden name... I didn't realize how much giving up a name meant. It really is a symbol of what marriage is... self sacrifice. Of course, in a healthy marriage the self sacrifice is mirrored on both sides, making it a lighter burden, but a burden it remains, and love requires it. It requires you to put self further down and look to the needs and wants of someone other than you. It is not for the self-consumed, and it does not always pay back in full- not when you are married to a human. This is not the bitter ranting of an angry housewife. These are true words, spoken with realistic expectations.
I know God understands this truth all too well, having set the example for us in Himself. He experienced human love on a real level in the person of Jesus, and also experiences to this very day the pain it causes, having loved much with nary a returned glance from some. He experienced the ultimate sacrifice in identity. Philippians 2:5-8 sheds a beautiful light on the kind of sacrifice He made on our behalf:
"You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal's death on a cross."
If Jesus Christ, who is God can give up his privileges as God to take on the identity of a slave and a criminal, I think I (imperfect and in need of much grace) can give up my identity as an independent woman, successful in the world's eyes if I am called to it. And I am called to it. I find joy in sacrificing myself to serve David and to serve WITH David in ministry regardless of David's ability to make it worth it. I find joy in all of this because I am filled up past the measure of fullness by the love of Christ. His love compels me.
The rain is still pattering and it's now getting close to 7. Ha! Where does time go? I think I'll have some breakfast.