on hard years & no matter what love

RuthAnnDavid-319

On our wedding day I stood there in that lacy white dress, so excited to be married to this man for forever, clutching the letter that I had written to him, admiring the glint of my ring–but also having some kind of vague feeling that, as time wore on, our love would be less meaningful, more worn in and routine.

***

This week marks the end of our third year of marriage–and oh, what a year it has been. 365 days ago we were packing up a house into storage, leaving the city where we met, where we learned to love each other. Since then we’ve lived in a dorm room, in my parents house, in our own little town house. We’ve said goodbye to friends, trained teachers, renovated a kitchen, preached at small town churches, slept in two twin beds pushed together, sold popsicles, started divinity school, and taught fourth grade science. We’ve laughed, cried, fought, danced, cooked, snuggled, and eaten lots of ice cream.

***

I love the TV show Parenthood. One of my favorite story arcs on the show involves the family’s aging patriarch trying to save his 40 year marriage. He starts the process with a simple, quiet gesture: he looks at his wife and says, “Millie… I see you and I hear you.”

It sounds easy. It’s not. Seeing and hearing requires humility, selflessness, & intentionality. It is a great act of love. Seeing and hearing another human being. Not turning away, no matter what.

***

This year has been hard in ways that I never could have dreamed. It’s been the opposite of so many things I expected. It’s been full of learning & growth, but none of that has been easily won.  I’ve worked harder and cried more than ever in my life. I’ll always remember this as a year my heart was broken and my faith was all but gone, over & over again.

***

As a kid, my favorite book was this tattered trade paperback copy of The Little Gymnast. (I have no idea why, I think I just really wished I could do a cartwheel.) But you don’t need to read that great literary classic to know that gymnasts need spotters. Everyone looks at the Olympic gymnast up on the high beam, no one notices the spotter.

If you watch gymnastics on TV, you’ll know that the spotter doesn’t seem to care one bit about accolades. The spotter never takes his eyes off the gymnast. He sees her and he hears her.

***

When I was little, my dad said the same thing to me every night when he tucked me in. “I’ll always love you…” to which, in my little high pitched voice (complete with a cloying southern accent), I would reply “…no matter what.”

***

This year, over and over and over David has seen me & he’s heard me. Through the balancing act of this hard, confusing year–he’s never once taken his eyes off of me. He’s seen the pain, heard the hard questions. He hasn’t turned his face away. Maybe that’s one of the greatest gifts we can give one another in our marriages, in our friendships, in our families–permission to hurt, doubt, and be human without judgement or superfluous advice. This year David has encouraged me, he’s prayed for me, he has pointed me to Christ… but he has also let me grieve, ask, and be angry. The space to do that has been such a gift.

***

During our first year of marriage David & I fought a lot. In hindsight, I see that underneath most of the conflict I stirred up, I was really just silently asking the same questions over and over: “Is this really it? Will you really love me forever, stay forever? Is this no matter what?” (Yes, I’m sure this was a Total Joy for David.)

Today, I don’t feel the need to ask those questions anymore. I know there will be things to come that we can’t imagine. But I didn’t imagine this year either–and here we are. Tired and spent, yet holding hands. Dancing in the kitchen.

This is what I know to be true: the kind of love that sees and hears you when you’re at your most desperately unlovable is a no matter what love. And no matter what love is worth more than any butterflies, any first date feeling, any mystery or romance.

Things do become worn in and routine. But what I didn’t know three years ago is that worn in love and routine giving of yourself is the most meaningful thing of all.

***

Happy anniversary, David. Thank you for seeing, for hearing, for cheering for me & keeping me safe during every flip & stumble on the beam that has been this year. I’m grateful for every minute of this worn in, routine life we are making together… and I don’t care how hard life is (knock on wood) as long as it’s with you.

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3 Responses to on hard years & no matter what love

  1. Kathie Broom says:

    Happy anniversary to two of my favorites. Keep keeping on! The best is yet to be!

  2. Nelda Broom says:

    Blessings to you two forever! Love you. Gran and Papaw

  3. Reggie Broom says:

    Great post, You’re wise beyond your years. You always have been. I’ll always love you…

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