TIME TO "UNPLUG"
June 24, was our 40th anniversary. We were gifted 2 nights at a B&B, perfect timing for a break between post-op recovery & treatments. So we headed to Abilene for history lessons, antiquing, & unknown to us, new relationships at The Victorian Inn. During our 2 hour car ride, we found ourselves shaking our heads in amazement as we discussed fleeting memories & how FAST our time together has passed. We don’t take much for granted these days. Wisdom has taught us to hold life in open hands. Ultimately, we are not in control. 3 things have been unchanging, like a woven tapestry thread, keeping the foundation of our relationship secure. 1) We agreed, from the beginning, NEVER to entertain the option of divorce. As a result, our love has grown stronger through the multitude of blessings & trials in our 4 decades together. 2) Our Lord Jesus has become more & more & more central in our daily living with each passing year. 3) #2 is the SOURCE of #1! J
Steve & I were an unlikely match from the beginning. I was raised in small town Iowa & lived my entire life in the same house. Steve lived in a military family, moving a total of 20 + times before settling in Iowa after his dad retired. My life revolved around family/grandparents, church & community. Steve was un-churched & never had relationship with, or really knew any of his grandparents. I had a steady, consistent school experience &, without television in the house, was an avid reader. Steve barely remembers completing any one year in the same school until junior high. Unknown to his parents or teachers, he was functionally illiterate & didn’t read his first book, to completion, until he was an adult. My world was small & safe. His world was uncertain with alcoholism in the home & constant change. I was quiet & reserved. He was funny & outgoing.
We met the first time, through his brother & my sister. The next time I saw him was 2 years later, the month I graduated from college. We were both signing contracts to work at a brand new “revolutionary” residential facility for disabled adults. The required intensive training prepared us not only for the job but for the possibility of some hard life realities. We discussed heavy issues with 30 other staffers in training, but also with each other, long before we said “I do.” Long story short, we connected within the first week & were married a year later. For being so different, we were instant soul mates, drawn by our mutual faith in Jesus Christ from the beginning. I’d never met anyone like Steve, openly passionate about Christ because of the choices in his life that brought him to see his need. While attending church was status quo in my community, he actually talked about Jesus in the dailies of life. We were young, impulsive, & thought we knew more than we really did. But God was gracious in our ignorance & protected us through thick & thin. Steve knew my parents loved him & I knew his parents loved me. Starting out with that support was, & is, incredibly important.
On the way home from Abilene, we listened to our wedding ceremony. Outside of noting that we sounded like kids, we listened in silence and were overtaken by humility & gratitude. Our loving Father has been faithful to make those wedding day commitments our life reality. We will never be perfect this side of heaven. (As Ian Thomas writes, since the fall of Adam, there has only ever been one perfect person.) But He is always at work in us, bringing our marriage closer in line with what He wants it to be…a visual expression of Christ’s love for the church. Early on, we were blessed with 3 daughters who love the Lord to this day. So far, we delight in 9 grandbabies, ages 3 months-14 yr. Is there anything more heart-warming than seeing life anew through the eyes of a child? Kids are the most honest, unpretentious people on earth!
I would be remiss in neglecting to add that we have also had our share of trials. Although we aren’t ones to look for trouble, life on this earth eventually & periodically tends to remind you of your limitations. Physical-- too numerous to bore you with; financial—we have some good stories, living 35 years on a support-based income; relationally—hands down, the most painful refining tool in our lives! Whether the rejection comes from family, friends, the people you minister to, or the world at large, it hurts!
My youngest daughter challenged us to “unplug” during our 3 days away. That intentional action made a world of difference. We left responsibilities & the unknowns behind. No guilt about it. Our phones didn’t dictate or interrupt our time together. No guilt about it. We weren’t run by the clock. No guilt about it. We relaxed. We shared. We wandered aimlessly & we wondered purposefully. We enjoyed interacting with fascinating people around the breakfast table. We laughed at ourselves. We felt quiet in our souls. And it was GOOD!