Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Last Friday my husband and I celebrated five years of marriage. We dated and were engaged for a year before that, and we had been friends for ten years before we started dating. All in all, I've known Justin for sixteen years, almost half my life. And I've finally figured out how to love him.
Well, sort of. We're definitely a work in progress.
You see, I've always been a fear-based person. Afraid of everything, really. When we got married I was constantly nagging him to be different, to do things differently. I think I was subconsciously afraid that if we didn't completely gel - you know, the stars-in-your-eyes, Hollywood, we simply "get" eachother version of relating - than we weren't meant for eachother. We would somehow deteriorate into nit-picking and nagging and eventually divorce. Certainly we could never continue to like eachother since we didn't really like anything the other person liked.
I love fancy vacations on the beach; he'd rather rough it in the mountains.
I love clean, tidy, spaces; he could care less about clutter.
I would rather read a book, go to a museum, enjoy a wonderful meal. All of these things bore him to tears. He wants to hunt, fish, and do things. He prefers activity to chilling out. In other words, you'd never catch him lounging by the pool.
I have an evangelical bent to my worship. I pray out loud, lay hands on people as I'm praying for them, worship along to contemporary Christian music. I like to talk (a LOT) about what Jesus is doing in my life. My husband is the strong, silent type. I would probably never hear what God is doing in his heart, or how they are relating to eachother, if I didn't ask. He likes calm, quiet liturgy. He prefers to pray silently (but he will pray aloud when I ask him to).
This last was the place that scared me the most. How could we make it if we didn't relate to God in the same way? Where will we come together, where is the common ground?
In the early years of our marriage I used to seriously stress out about this. I would nag him to be more like me. I would try to be more like him. I would force him to sit through countless talks (you know the kind I mean) sifting through my anxieties until he would say something incredibly wise like "I love you, you love me, that's enough."
He's right, of course. Love covers. He's always been right. I've been on the sideline waffling through moments of panic and bliss, and he's been steady-as-she-goes the whole time. Providing the foundation and covering I need to gain security.
I mention this because, in the most real sense, my husband has modeled Jesus for me. He has re-presented Jesus in a tangible, daily way. He lets me freak out, fear, cry, be anxious, get impatient, become angry when he doesn't respond by doing what I want him to do. But he never, never caves. He never becomes something he's not simply to apease me. He remains true to who God made him to be, and, in so doing, he is perfect for me.
Because we are different, we sometimes have to work harder to come together - definitely. But because we are different, when we come together it means so much more. I know that he is willing to sacrifice what he wants in order to love me in tangible ways. I learn more about myself - about what I'm capable of, for instance - because I try new things in an effort to bless my husband. In general, life is simply spicier because we each bring different ingredients to the recipe that is our life together.
Last Friday we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. We went out to a nice hotel and did nothing. Literally. Nothing. He meandered around the grounds enjoying a good cigar while I holed up in the hotel room with my favorite TV series on DVD. The beauty of the whole thing was this: I didn't stress out that we were different, had different wants and different needs. I was thrilled, actually, to release him to get what he needed/wanted and to allow myself to do the same. It felt so light-weight, so comfortable.
"For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:30)
I may be stretching things a bit, but this is what I experienced last Friday night. In a word: TRUST. I've become so sure that Justin loves me I'm able to walk in trust more than fear. I loved holing up in the hotel room, and I loved that Justin was not with me. Don't get me wrong - we had couple time while we were at the hotel (a romantic dinner, a leisurely breakfast). But we also let the other be who we each are. Finally. Five years in I'm finally comfortable enough in our skin to simply be. (Justin has been there the whole time; I'm the late-comer to this party.)
So this is what it means to carry an easy yoke, a light burden. Satisfaction; deep, pervasive joy; light-heartedness; rest.
Thank you, God, for giving me a husband through which you teach me how to belong to you. Thank you., God, for love that covers. Thank you, God, for the freedom that comes when we feel safe. I thank you.
Linking up with Soli Deo Gloria today. Go check them out!