to love, even today

by Katherine

Never before binding myself to my husband have I ever known such stretching of heart. I’ve felt pain and bliss as everyone does, but never this way. When love and marriage happened to him and me, so intriguingly fast and right, it was not how I had come to dream of it or expect it to arrive. We slipped into each other’s lives by surprise, and nearly without effort. Two starkly different souls with opposite histories saw that their lives were somehow heading in the same direction all of a sudden. It seemed wonderful to join the adventure of life side-by-side.

We met at the campground where prayer nourished the ground and the Creator’s praise energized every game and hiking trip. Generous hearts and homes helped us, guided us, and looked out for our good and growth. I stepped from that valley to the church in another one – a perfect May day where love and gladness beamed from all faces. There we made our forever covenants with God and each other. It was unforgettably perfect.

And here we are today, one year and one month later. The newness and thrill of being married comes and goes with the hard, ragged tries to live in step and understand one another. But there is never any doubt at the end of each day that we belong this way — straining and learning to love each other without condition.

Who would ever have thought that a self-righteous perfectionist with a religion degree would be fitting herself with a former drug addict and emo punk band lead singer that got kicked out of high school? He’s still silencing the calls to “come back” and the lie that he’s a failure — I impatiently bruise him when I attempt to fix his wounds with rules and Law, (which is often my urge instead of tenderness and still more grace.)He’s impulsive and a little sloppy –I’m a planner who needs every painful detail, obsessed about straight lines and mental order. He carries the weight of diabetes and seasonal depression –I’ve never known any suffering worse than menstrual cramps. He’s a joker and a goofball — I take every word at its value and get hurt easily. He’s easygoing and social –I’m fighting off painful self-consciousness and fear of people. This is just the start of our complexities.

This first year has brought so much delight over being one, sometimes it seems our hearts will burst with the wonder of it. It brings great pleasure to see how our differences fit just so brilliantly — how two so very opposite people can find home and healing in each other. But somehow it seems that this year has just as often shown us the dark, shadowy parts of ourselves, and the ways our differences can be used to hurt one another. We find ourselves frequently uttering pained, helpless cries to God, (or even struggling to pray at all) because we’re discovering more of how deeply we’re broken and cannot save one another. The temptation to throw up our hands grows strong, as we feel so fiercely our inadequacy to love the way we really need it.

With a sigh of thankfulness, we can say with confidence that these shadows have not shouted loud enough to break us, but have helped us fall hard on the only one who can save us. Jesus is the sinless spouse who daily bears with us, the most disappointing, frustrating and opposite people. We abandoned him, and still: he went after us in love. Even now, he is tenderly with us to the end.

And that is how I can hold tighter to Seth each day, even when we can’t seem to find any hope, even when we’ve hurt each other the same ways again after so many promises, even after we’ve uncovered an even deeper, uglier wound we’ve never seen before and can’t feel the love we speak. We’re being held all along the way, and all the pain of learning love is drawing us deeper into light, and making us glimmer just a little more brightly with peeks of what we’ll be one day. We’re stretched and we weep, but in our expanding we are better filled with Jesus and deeper breaths of grace. In belonging to Him, we are free to lay down our lives for one another and be honest without any fear of being cast out.

And we can be brave enough to face today and say:
“Oh, darling, let’s lift our heads and keep on. I love you forever.”