unconditional love

Sometimes Love: A Spoken-Word-Poem Guest Post

Today I am excited to be over at my sweet friend, Briana Meade’s blog with a guest post for her For Better or Worse series. I am also excited/incredibly nervous to be debuting a little spoken-word poem.

When I heard about Briana’s series on marriage I had just published a more traditional post on the topic here, so I decided to take a risk and do something very new and different (for me) in this post. Not only did I write a poem, but it’s a spoken-word poem AND I decided to record it for you. I don’t usually do this (and by don’t usually I mean NEVER) so please bear with my lack of expertise both in performance and videography. I hope you can see past those things and hear my heart in this piece. And I hope maybe something you hear will move you. Because I believe we need each other’s stories to understand our own.

So…(slightly panicking)….here it goes. Check out the video (and the rest of Briana’s awesome blog) here. Let me know what you think! Unless you really really hate it. Then just don’t say anything. (Also, sorry, Mom, about the cursing.)

 

Little baby Jonathan and Lily.

Little baby Jonathan and Lily.

Grown-up Jonathan and Lily (well, sort-of). And don't be confused by this picture. Buddha has not granted us a son.

Grown-up Jonathan and Lily (well, sort-of). And don’t be confused by this picture. Buddha has not granted us a son.

 

 

I Suck at Marriage, but My Marriage Doesn’t Suck

I’ll be the first to tell you that I suck at marriage. Let me give you an example.

A few weeks ago we were sitting on a bench outside a perfect little neighborhood boulangerie in Australia, eating pain au chocolat in the sunshine when Jonathan told me he was thinking of applying to grad school so that he could potentially start a program when we return from Korea. “What do you think?” he asked me.

Do you know what the first thing out of my mouth was? I’ll give you a hint – it wasnt “I think that’s great and I support you in your dreams of getting your Masters,” and it wasnt “Where do you want to apply? Let’s start thinking about how we could make that work.” It was (imagine this with an extremely whiny voice), “But if you start grad school right away we won’t have time to do any traveling after our contract is over because you will have to go back right away for school, and traveling is basically the entire reason I came to Korea!” I actually said that. While we were sitting on a sunny bench on an idyllic tree-lined street in the trendy part of SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA.

Of course, when I came to my senses later I apologized sincerely for how selfish and spoiled and inconsiderate I’d been. But the point is…that’s still the stupid first thing that came out of my mouth. Everyone knows that one of the first rules of relationships is to show support of the other person’s dreams and goals. But seven years into this relationship and I still can’t seem to manage that simple task. I think we can all agree that this was a fail.

*****

Sometimes I really suck at marriage. I have unrealistic expectations. I am moody and unpredictable. I am unsupportive. I am bossy. I am lazy. I am inconsiderate. I am whiny. I am demanding. I am terribly selfish. Jonathan is mostly perfect, but every once in a blue moon he loses patience with me too. He hurts my feelings. He pulls away because I’ve become too prickly to handle. We are broken people and we fail to love each other well in so many ways.

 And yet, we have an extraordinary, impossibly beautiful marriage.

*****

We aren’t the oldest and most experienced of married couples. We don’t have a perfect marriage. But we’ve learned some things along the way. We’ve learned we don’t believe in molding our marriage to meet anyone else’s expectations. Everyone seems to have an opinion – that we got married too young, that we should have kids by now, how our home should be run, who should be “in charge.” And we shake our heads and laugh. Because we aren’t interested in what anyone else thinks our marriage should look like. We aren’t interested divvying up our roles according to some chart or in having children based on someone else’s timeline, and we couldn’t care less about who is “in charge.” People say, “You’ve been together since you were nineteen? Aren’t you afraid that you’ve lost who you are?!” And we laugh again. Because we haven’t lost who we are. Together we are becoming the people we are meant to be.

Because our marriage isn’t about keeping score. It’s not about who’s pulling their weight or who’s in charge or who’s loving the best. It’s about heaping grace on one another until our marriage is dripping with it. It’s about soaking in that grace, from God and from each other, becoming so heavy with it that it overwhelms our disappointments, our failures, our hidden ugliness. It’s the kind of grace that changes us.

Our marriage is about understanding that every day of our lives together we are living out a miracle. It’s the miracle we wrote in our wedding vows, “I choose you, today and every day…” The miracle is not just that we fell in love when we were nineteen. And it isn’t just that we made these vows four Junes ago. The miracle is that when I come home from work each night Jonathan wraps his arms around me in a hug so big it lifts me up off of the floor. It’s that I chose him on my wedding day and I chose him again when I woke up this morning. That I will choose him tomorrow and that I will choose him on the day I die. The miracle is God giving two broken, unfaithful people the measure of grace necessary to choose this kind of love on a daily basis. The miracle is that after being together for seven years, I am still in awe that I get to choose him.

Sometimes I suck at marriage. But my marriage doesn’t suck.

place cards

wedding

Image credits: Rings and place card image by Taylor Rae PhotographyWedding image by Asharae Marie, now co-owner of Grain & Compass

Marriage and Other Miracles

I’ve been trying to blog for days (and days and days) and everything keeps coming out jumbled and messy and I am facing a complete inability to think linearly. Instead all of my thoughts come in bursts and flashes that I can’t quite manage to capture and organize. So the options are to wait until I’ve ironed things out neatly and can present them one at a time like so many articles of clothing folded just so inside my drawer. Or I can go with the jumbled mess, something more like the pile of unsorted, dirty laundry sitting in the hamper. And on top of it. And on the bathroom floor. Which I suppose is truer anyway.

Last weekend we went to Indiana for the wedding of some dear friends of ours. The wedding was sweet and fun and I loved being able to share in the joy of our friends as they began married life. Weddings are a different experience for me now that I am married. In one sense, I feel more joy and excitement for the couple as I know what it is they are stepping into and what they have to look forward to. But I am also always struck with a sense of awe, understanding that I am witnessing a miracle, or rather the beginning of one. I don’t exactly believe that in the moment of the wedding ceremony, you magically become one, but I do believe that through the process of marriage your hearts are knit together in an inexplicable way. Somehow two people who didn’t even know the other existed a matter of years ago become a family. It’s beautiful to witness in someone else and it’s astounding to experience for yourself.

There’s so much of the daily parts of marriage that seem unremarkable, but I never want to forget that every day I am living out part of a miracle. It’s why I wrote the words of my wedding vows so carefully, “Jonathan I love you. I choose you today and every day as my husband, my helper, and my best friend…” The miracle is not just that I fell in love with him when I was nineteen. And it isn’t just that I spoke those vows to him one day last June. The miracle is also that I wrote these same words across my bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker just last week. It’s that when I come home from work at night he wraps his arms around me in a hug so big it lifts me up off of the floor. It’s that I chose him on my wedding day and I chose him when I woke up this morning. That I will choose him tomorrow and that I will choose him on the day I die. The miracle is God giving two sinful, unfaithful people the measure of grace necessary to choose this kind of faithfulness on a daily basis. The miracle is that after being together for nearly five years and married for more than one, I am still in awe that I get to choose him.

I recently started a new job in a large office full of new people. It’s been a challenge to not only learn about the work itself but to try to get to know the people working around me. Everyone has been very nice to me, but it’s hard not to feel isolated in my little cube while I listen to the other girls making lunch plans, talking about hanging out on the weekends and visiting each others’ cubes where they whisper and laugh. One thing I’ve noticed though is how rarely they talk about their husbands or boyfriends in a positive light. It seems that all that they have to say about them is something stupid they’ve done or how annoying they are. Of course, I don’t believe for a minute that this is all they feel about their husbands/boyfriends, but I wonder why it is that it’s so much easier for people talk about their spouse’s shortcomings than to talk about their good qualities.

I think it has to do with the view of marriage that is so prevalent in western culture. That marriage exists to make us happy. If this is the point of marriage, then it follows that people are intolerant of anything that makes them unhappy in their marriage. If the success of a marriage is measured in happiness and the only obligation people feel is towards their own happiness, it’s no wonder so many marriages end in divorce. If marriage is seen as something primarily self-serving it will ultimately fail.

Marriage is about becoming more holy. It is a partnership that spurs one another towards holiness. It is about laying down your life for someone else. It is about showing love and grace and compassion and forgiveness even when you don’t feel like it. It is about encouraging, speaking words of life instead of words of destruction, putting someone else’s interests before your own. The “happiness” of marriage flows out of the security of having someone who chooses to love you unconditionally, not out of your total agreement with every word that comes from their mouth or how they handle every situation. It is the overwhelming certainty of having someone who will not leave you when they grow tired of you and will not turn to someone else when they are discontent.

Living out this kind of self-sacrificing, intensely faithful marriage is impossible for a human. But nothing is impossible for God, and He is willing to share that power with us. And that, too, is a miracle.

 

Just for fun, a few of my favorite pics from our wedding as photographed by the lovely and talented Asharae Brundin Kroll and Taylor Horton. (If you need a photographer, hire one of them. They are excellent and they travel.)

Us under the huppah my brother built, being married by David Henderson

Soooo married!

This is how I feel everytime I kiss him. Only I'm not that skinny anymore. 🙂

 

My necklace from etsy and the bouquet my matron of honor, Lanise Guidry, made for me

We're so cute, they didn't know what to do with themselves.

Please, no more pictures!