Wednesday, August 18, 2010

31 Years - No easy Answers: Commitment is a choice, faithfulness is a life-style, and following Jesus is a steady pathway

Today, as you may have guessed, is our wedding anniversary. Thirty-one. No big adventure planned, like last year's celebration trip to Italy, but we did begin the day exchanging cards and flowers and gifts. Then, tonight, it will be out to BoneFish Grill.

The big adventure, of course, has been the thirty-one years! "Successfully married" people are often asked things such as, "If you had known then what you know now, and if you had been told about what would happen over the next few decades, would you have still chosen to get married...?"

The short - and always anticipated - answer is, "YES!" But the truth is a lot more complex.

I mean, look at us! We were twenty-three years old good grief! Such knowledge would have been beyond our capacity to process. Marriage is always one step at a time. It's neither the ability to see into the future nor blessed ignorance that holds things together... it's the decision to live in the context of promise, faithfulness and commitment.

No pair of twenty-three year olds could possibly be equipped with the capacity to process let alone comprehend all that we have experienced as a family since 1979.
  • Rebekah's career alone has been mind-boggling. She was already attending Columbia Theological Seminary when we married. But very few people had a clue as to what it might look like for a woman to lead a Presbyterian Church - and what it might mean to be a "minister's husband" was about as clear as colonizing Mars.
  • We may have only raised two children. But, we more than compensated for the relatively small number by having not just any two kids, but Andrew and Naomi. Need I say more!
  • Now add in mortgages, and medical challenges, and financial ups and downs, and moving, and my work in exceptional education, and mid-life career shifts, and the everyday realities of parents who pass away and siblings who divorce and a church full of people who need a little attention once in a while.... And children get married, and they move to far-flung ends of the USA and Europe and beyond.
  • We've owned three homes and over 20 cars; lived in four cities; earned five degrees (counting Andrew's); taken care of three dogs, two cats, and countless stray people.
  • We have travelled to more countries than we can count, hauled our children on dozens of epic family vacations, and thrown ourselves 120% into life with a continuity and consistency that hasn't let up since we were 23 years old and really didn't know any better.
Between us, Rebekah and I have been invited to half the states in the Union to speak about life and faith. And the reason (I believe) that people still want to hear our testimony and read our stories is the fact that we've always been up front about the fact that we love, we pray, we struggle, we triumph, we fall flat on our faces, we get up again and we're always willing to learn.

We know that there are no easy answers, and we're comfortable with that. But the reason we can pull it off regardless, is the fact that commitment is a choice, faithfulness is a life-style, and following Jesus is a steady pathway. God is with us on this journey, but God does not take away the opportunity we have to always choose - every single day - to love and to live and to remember that we are doing all of this in the context of promise.

Could we have moved forward in the light of all that knowledge, August 18 thirty-one years ago? To be honest I'm not sure that we could have even begun to process such a path - it would have been like trying to pour ten-gallons of steaming hot gumbo into an 8-ounce Styrofoam cup... it would have melted, overflowed, then simply disintegrated!

But here's the bottom line. This thirty-one years has been amazing, rich, layered, nuanced. It is a marriage packed with flavor and bubbling with life. It's always been, in many ways, simply too much to handle... if, that is, we were doing it alone, it were all about us and it stopped there.

But - and I love the way Paul puts this in 2 Corinthians - "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

And so, thirty-one years along this great adventure, I can say with confidence that it's a journey I am unreservedly glad we are taking. There is still so much to look forward to, and so much to experience together.

God has this unlimited imagination. it's our passion to engage the possibilities, and to encourage other people to do likewise.

I have no doubt that on another anniversary, say our 40th, I'll have occasion to look back at this coming decade and say, once again, "There is no way we could have imagined what was coming!"

"However, as it is written:
No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him..."

1 Corinthians 2:9


Rae said...

Derek, what a wonderful testimony! I forwarded this on to my newly married son and his wife. Happy and blessed anniversary to you and Rebekah!

Heather said...

Happy Anniversary to two of my favorite people. As I read your testimony, I wish you could have seen me nodding my hand in agreement and my internal dialogue screaming, "YES!! EXACTLY!!"

Darrell said...

Happy Anniversary!

Doris said...

Great article. Congratulations to two people who are great role models and a source of encouragement to many. Even to some who have been married longer than 31 years! Enjoy Bone Fish Grill, one of my favorite eateries. God Bless.

JoAnne said...

Now at last an email to forward to all my list--those who despair of the "times" and those who celebrate the Life! Thanks!

Gerard said...

A Very Happy Anniversary to you and Rebekah. God Bless you both and thank you for sharing your testimony with us.

lanelle813 said...

Congratulations, my dear Derek and Rebekah (whom I haven't met but love all the same).


Ali Hoad said...

Congratulations to you both, may the next years be another chapter in the book of Maul life May God richly bless you from me and Kathleen.