Summertime is traditionally wedding season here in Upstate New York. Our church has two weddings in just over a month this year. Planning, dresses, shoes, toile, bows, tuxedos, vests, candles, cake, punch, flowers, etc., etc.
In the course of a wedding, one will inevitably read or hear the popular fairy-tale phrase,
"And they lived happily ever after."While that phrase is quoted at the end of the story or the end of the day when the bride and groom drive away, it is a misplaced ending...for the wedding is just the beginning of the story.
How did Cinderella and Prince Charming live after their royal wedding? How did Beauty and the Beast find happiness in the rest of their days? What does happily ever after look like?
After almost 22 years of marriage, here's what ours looks like:
-moving hundreds of miles away from all our family and friends to a place where we know no one and we work together to make friends.
-arguing, but always making up
-moving to 4 different states in 3 years and going on weekend adventures discovering hidden places and making the most of the short time we will live in each area.
-going through labor with our first child together - me in tremendous pain and him rubbing my back, looking in my eyes, cheering me on. Me having to trust him while he agrees, in trepidation, with the doctor that we need a c-section.
-watching him change our son's first diapers and seeing him fast asleep on our couch with our 10b son sleeping on his chest so I can sleep our first night home.
-finding out our son has a chromosomal disorder, not knowing what the future will bring and praying together, handing our son over to God
-making a career move which brings us back home to family
-long harvests where we are separated for days and weeks
-going through more labors and deliveries, each one bringing us closer together
-praying over our 5th child, born blue, not breathing and rejoicing when he takes his first breath when he is one-minute old. (longest minute of our lives)
-having a 7-week premature baby girl. Him driving me to the hospital every morning and picking me up every night for 2 weeks. Going out for ice cream or dinner almost every night. Crying, praying, holding hands, holding our wee baby, talking to our children on the phone every night.
-crying with one another over the diagnosis of our son's severe scoliosis
-waiting together for 14 hours while our son was operated on. Long nights in the hospital. Hearing his voice over the phone encourage me when I didn't think I could take any more.
-Countless decisions regarding our children's health and being together for hours and days in emergency rooms, hospital rooms, and operating facilities.
-vacations with our children
-Cleaning up throw-up together in the middle of the night...many nights.
-mid-day talks in the barn....some with laughter, some with tears.
-homeschooling our children together - me teaching, him encouraging. Me choosing curriculum, him supporting and willing to pay whatever it takes to make sure our children are well-educated.
-meeting betrayal with forgiveness and grace
-praying over land, crops, equipment, relationships....all things farm
-walks down our lane
-weeping over and praying for our children's spirituality and futures
-sneaking out for ice cream or coffee, just the two of us
We have not lived happily ever after. We are living happily ever after.
It's not all sunshine, white horses, castles, magic pumpkins and glass slippers. The real happiness comes from holding each other through the sorrow and the pain. True love isn't dancing on the ballroom floor - true love is holding the hand of your husband in the emergency room after a farm accident and praying he comes home with you.
So this is love. This is happily ever after. This is the fairy tale come true.
What is your happily ever after?