Wednesday, August 31, 2011
I Never Knew
About a month ago I heard of a couple we know who is getting a divorce after 35 years of marriage and three grown children. Thirty-five years. Take that in for a minute. One of them just up and decided that they didn't love their spouse anymore. Unbelievable. Totally blows my mind. I don't know this family well but, I have wanted, on many occasions to march up to their house and tell them the HUGE mistake they're making. I'm sure that would go over well:).
But seriously, for some reason, this has bothered me a lot because I think the fall-out from thirty-five years just must be so huge. I have also wondered what would make someone leave their spouse after so many years of marriage? How could one sell all that they had sown into their spouse and into their family for a grass is greener mentality? How could this really occur? What happened to love?
I remember very well the first time Steve told me that he loved me. He drove me up to the summit of the Santa Cruz mountains, danced with me under the stars and then looked me straight in the eye and said, "I've thought about this extensively and I can tell you with confidence that I love you. I love you. And I will love you. I've chosen you." I'll never forget it as long as I live. It was an incredibly wonderful and scary moment for me. You see, I didn't know what love was at all. I was scared to take that step. But despite my fears, I did. I answered "I love you too" back and as time went on, I realized that my profession wasn't the end but just the beginning. It was simply a promise of what was to come.
When I was dating Steve and in our early years of marriage, a very wise woman gave me some of the best insight into love and marriage I've ever heard. This is what she said. She told me that there are seasons. There are good seasons where all you feel is love. These seasons are smooth, easy and exciting. There are hard seasons when you don't understand each other and you don't feel like loving at all. There are also tragic seasons where you experience heartbreak and loss, and you mourn together. But the beauty of seasons is that you know that after the barren winter comes the glory of spring where the dead are raised back to life. Each season has its time. God does His redemptive work in every season and then things always cycle back around again. If you know this, you always have hope.
Best advice ever.
This is something that I have held onto over these last nine years. And I've seen her metaphor played out time and time and time again. There have been dark times but I've always known there will be morning...dawn is coming.
Marriage is no picnic. Steve and I have had many difficult moments when we've had to learn to work together, how to give love and respect, and how to care for one another. And there have been many times we've bailed...totally bailed on this and have had to regroup and try again. But it goes back to a choice. We don't ever "fall out of love". We simply ride the waves as the seasons go in and out and we commit to love no matter how we feel at the time. It goes back to those words..."I've chosen you to love." When that attitude is stacked up over many years it produces life, vitality and most of all it produces love. Over the years this love plunges to depths unknown.
Lately I've found myself saying to Steve, "I never knew. I never knew, when I told you that first time I loved you, that I could ever love someone as much as I love you now. I never knew." How could I? Those words were spoken in promise. They spoke of things to come. We committed to love and God made it grow. For only God can produce such incredible love between two people. He alone is the architect. He alone is the artist. I see His strokes of brilliance all over my marriage and the marriages of our friends and family.
I don't know what happened to that couple. There was obviously a break-down somewhere along the way. But I do know this, somewhere, one of them decided that the down season was just too long or too painful and that it would never get better. So instead of waiting for the resurrection (for God can resurrect anything!!) they gave up hope.
But there's always hope. Don't ever buy the lie that the season is too long. It will cycle back. Dawn will come. Don't give up.
Don't ever give up.