Wednesday, September 9th was our 21st wedding anniversary. Back when we first got married, I thought it thoroughly unromantic when couples would just go about their normal, hum-drum lives on their anniversary. No card, no gift, and no date equated no love in my young mind.
How appalled my 21 year old self would have been to have travelled into the future from September 9, 1994 to September 9, 2015. She would have seen the couple who got married with stars in their eyes and mush in their hearts living a seemingly ordinary, if not chaotic, life. She would have seen her aged self sitting on the couch at 9 am with 6 of her 7 children around her each sharing what they got from their Bible reading, singing hymns and reading a Christian hero biography. A few hours later, she would have seen her true-love walk in the door for lunch, but because her older self was involved with homeschooling, very little would have been said between the two. Around evening, she would see the entire family get into their huge van and go to church. She would have seen she and her beloved at the front of the church again, but not as a bride and groom exchanging vows, but standing hand in hand in the midst of their children happily singing hymns with the rest of their loved congregation. After that, she would have seen a crowd of people back at their yard - some dishing up ice cream from cartons set out in a wagon, some around a campfire, some playing basketball in the dark, and some playing hide and go seek. An anniversary party? No...a get-together for some old friends who were leaving town. She would have seen her 42 year old self across from her 45 year old best friend, not next to him. She never would have seen a card or gift passed between the two.
How utterly unromantic!!! How did we get this way?!
But, wait. If my younger self had looked closer, she would have seen the soft eyes that said so much. She would have seen the smiles shared quietly. She may have even seen the card tucked in a book ready to give, but forgotten.
What I realized that day, was not how unromantic our life is, but how our love and romance has brought us to this point. Our house is full of children, our hearts are full of love for each other and our Lord, our home and yard are often filled with friends we have made along the way, and the ability to share our love and joy with others - children, family and friends. Oh, our life is far from perfect, but even in the day to day duties, trials, and exhaustion, there is love.
Our actual anniversary was spent concentrating on other while being aware of each other's presence.
Not completely resigned to neglecting our special day, we made plans to spend the entire day together the following Saturday. I got up and dressed, did my hair and makeup and tried to look practical enough for hiking, but cute enough for a day with my sweetheart. He tells me he loves me with or without makeup, etc., but I think the fact that I make the effort makes him feel pretty good. ;)
How wonderful it was to get away for 16+ hours and drive and explore beautiful areas around us like we used to do in our early days. We had a rough plan of what we were going to do but left enough flexibility in there for spontaneity. There were times of much conversation and times of much silence and, in both, we felt very comfortable and happy. We walked in pouring down rain wearing tacky plastic ponchos - something I never would have done while we were dating. Yet, after 21 years of marriage, never once did I worry about what he thought because he is the one person in my life that sees beyond the wet hair, ugly attire, and blotchy makeup (as well as a lot of character flaws) and still loves me.
Saturday was spent concentrating on one another while putting others aside for a bit. We came home after a day of sun, rain, and long drives happy we had spent it together. So very much like our life.
Looking on it all, our love has become like that walk in the rain on Saturday. We have many sunny days when we are looking and feeling our best and have time to really talk and enjoy one another. However, some days, we get rained on with responisiblities, schedules, sickness, trials. We don't look so good, we are covered in dirt (literal and figurative), and we are passing each other by. However, we know that the sun will come out again and that we will be able to replace the nasty poncho with our dress up clothes. The hair will be combed, the face cleaned and (in my case) the makeup done. We know we will dry off and reconnect.
In short, we walk hand in hand in all the elements of life, loving each other all the while. This is romance.
Not sure what my 21 year old bridal self would have thought, but this 42 year old wife is happy and satisfied.