He made me cry last month.
I was driving down I-40 with tears flowing free and my kids asking me what was wrong from the backseat.
Ten years. Five little humans. Four Houses. Two dogs. A kitten. Innumerable chickens. A spectacularly large collection of not particularly special rocks. A few nights working it out until the sun comes up, many more late night laughs that steep away into watching the sunrise together. Grasping hands, grasping coffee cups.
Has it just been ten years? Or has it been a lifetime?
It feels a little bit like both.
Because how do you measure a marriage? Certainly counting days on a calendar echos hollow against the fullness of those days.
So we find ourselves celebrating this week and I found myself crying last month.
And can I tell you a little something? When I really think about it, I always feel like I got away with something. Like maybe, possibly, if he had actually understood who I was he wouldn’t have asked. He wouldn’t have promised. If only he’d known.
To be fair, I’m quite sure both of my parents tried to warn him. But just a month over a year after we met, four months after we really started dating, one hour after I flew home from Europe, eight weeks after we were engaged. He asked. He promised.
When I really think about, I feel like I got away with something. I don’t know, maybe he was optimistic. He usually gives people the benefit of the doubt.
Because ten years is plenty of time to find out the truth.
Too many feelings. Too many opinions. Too much. And yet…too little follow through. Too little attention to detail. Too flakey. Not quite enough.
So a month ago, I waffled. Should I go, should I not go? Should I even try or is it time to quit for good? And finally after giving all of my thoughts a line-item out loud, I got to the bottom line. “This opportunity? It’s gonna cost a lot, and honestly? I’m just not sure I’ll ever be able to return on the investment.”
Casually without even looking up from the dishes he was emptying he said, “Well, I don’t know if it’s worth the investment, but I know you are.”
And I felt like I got away with something, because I’ve done everything in my power these last ten years to prove that statement fundamentally untrue. I’ve thrown tantrums and I’ve thrown in the towel. I self-destructed and left a path of destruction behind me. I’ve wasted and then wanted.
I don’t know if it’s worth the investment, but I know you are.
Maybe he is just optimistic. Or maybe he just wanted to give me the benefit of the doubt.
Actually, I don’t even get the phrase. I even looked it up to try to understand it, blame it on the time change or just my thick skull, but it still doesn’t make sense to me. Seems to me like we should call it the benefit of belief.
Because he had it ten years ago when we said “I do” and he has it now. This crazy ability to believe in me. To forget the bad and find the good. And it made me cry. For weeks when I would think about that simple statement my eyes would overflow from the depth of feeling it created it me.
For years I have taught and preached and proclaimed that we are free indeed. That we are free because we can know that we are irrevocable loved by our Creator and the way that I proved that was by pointing back to creation itself. When God made us did he not know what we would do, had he no thought that we might tumble and fall and then just keep on falling?
He knew. And he knew what it would cost. And this omnipotent Creator took the dirt into His holy hand and made us anyway. He believed we were worth the painful price. And that, my friends, is how we know we are irrevocable loved.
“And now husbands, love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
Maybe this man I married just got it long before I did. Ten years before I did in fact. It turns out he knew what it would cost and he decided to make a marriage work was worth the price.
He understood something I didn’t: Every time I failed and fell short, work was being done. Christ was working in me. Maybe my husband does believe in me, but on any standard on this side of kingdom come, I’m a bad bet, so I tend to think he isn’t betting on this side of heaven. His belief isn’t in me. It’s in Christ in me. The hope of glory.
How do you measure a marriage? There are probably a lot of good ways, or maybe none. But over here? I’m counting the bets placed as high as the heavens. The hope of glory.