Patricia is having surgery. An old bridge in her mouth is deteriorating and needs attention; actually, it needs replacing with a whole new system. So she is having surgery. I get to be the nurse for a few days. So I sit here waiting and thinking about this woman God has given me. I’m thinking about our journey.
I realize this truth: love grows in the journey. We have gone through so many things together. A fairytale romance. (At least we thought so). The births of six children, each birth amazingly different. We never wanted to know gender ahead of time; we wanted the surprise. Will was born in the car on the way to the hospital. That was a surprise. It was also my fault. With Judith, we barely made it in time. Not my fault. With Jean-Luc, we just had him at home; and Dan, outpatient. The last two were her choices. In the process of it all, some of our most stressful surprises are now our best memories, our fodder for stories and laughter.
Of course, having six little ones at home all ten and under had its adventures. There were times when a “bug” would sweep through the whole family. For days we would be up nights, cleaning bedding and carpets and clothes, and praying for God to deliver us from the “pit.” When Judith spent ten days in the hospital with spinal meningitis, we prayed and cried together, pleading for God to be merciful.
Since Patricia stayed home with the children, our financial struggles were ever before us. We needed clothing for the kids, shoes, and more. God provided, but seldom in the same way; it seems He was always challenging us to trust Him in a new way.
When we could manage it, we took trips to California to see Patricia’s parents and family. We would check airline prices looking for a real deal. We packed the car and drove a few times. We rode AmTrak across country, coach the whole way. At that time Judith was the baby, and I hemmed her in between my legs and bags and seats. “Are you sure she can’t get out?” Patricia asked. “Not a chance,” I assured her. A few hours later, we were awakened by a total stranger carrying Judith from seat to seat, asking everyone on the train, “Is this your baby? Is this your baby?” That was not one of my shining moments, but I think that Patricia has finally forgiven me. We bought a pop-up and traveled across the west seeing all the sights we could in as little time as possible. It just doesn’t look that far on a map.
As the kids got older, Patricia came to work with me in the school. Trying to balance this husband/wife-employer/employee thing was often just that—trying. Yet we have walked and talked our way through it.
Learning the difference in how we think and how we react to situations has been a challenge. Forced to communicate through these things—because we had made vows before God to stay together until death—seasoned us. We each have had moments when we thought death might be better.
In the whole journey, we have grown together, we have cried together, we have prayed together, we have laughed together, and we have stuck together. We have learned to love one another, and we have come to see that it is the incredible stresses that we faced together that strengthened our love. Lilies appear through mud, flowers through dirt, rainbows in storms, and love in the journey.
It is our prayer that your marriage would grow as you journey together. My closing thoughts today are a poem I wrote along this theme. I hope that you enjoy it.
How is it that this Beauty
That we call Love
Is giv’n to dust-made man
And calls him out of self and earthly urge
To live for someone else?
This heavenly surge
To life and joy!
I do not fully fathom
Love in its prime;
But this I know:
Love blossoms over time.
As circumstances lash and would destroy,
As man and wife must all their strength employ
To guard Love’s root . . . .