At the end of this month, Philip and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. I can hardly believe it’s been two decades since we said ‘I do’, and if you include the on-and-off dating before that, we’ve pretty much been together for 25 years. We met when I was 19 and he was 21.
The years have flown by. At 46, my hubby now has a few grey hairs plus the odd wrinkle here and there, and I too show some of the years, although I would suggest mine are revealed more on my hips following five pregnancies and three healthy children. Yes, the numbers I have mentioned don’t add up, needless to say, we have known the pain of loss.
On our journey together, we have shared moments of great joy and sadness. There has been agony, weakness, dreams shattered and hope deferred. There have been seasons of wondering if we should continue, earnest conversations and the challenge of finding love in the midst of turmoil. We have understood that life, love, marriage and all that accompanies them doesn’t always equal the happy-ever-after that Hollywood so tantalisingly promises.
I have spent many hours, if not days, wondering how these things work. Whether or not we were designed to be with one person for our entire life? I have joked about marriage being like the family car – trading it in for a newer model when you hit the 100,000km mark. The jokes always drew a chuckle, but somewhere deep within, I’d suggest we have all pondered that at one stage or another.
We’ve enjoyed wonderful seasons as well. Some of the happiest moments of my life have been experienced during our marriage. The birth of our three children fulfilled one of my greatest dreams of becoming a mother and there has been much laughter with many precious moments that are dear to my heart. We are a team and we work well together. We have found our rhythm and we have danced through life. At times, we have carried each other, occasionally kicking and screaming, but for the most part, we have pulled each other forward, putting our trust in God and walking in sync to meet the next great challenge that life delivers. The mystery, the excitement, the joys and the trials!
Today, as I gaze into the eyes of my children and I consider our journey during the last 25 years, I understand the value of what we have taught them through our lives together. They have witnessed the highs and the lows, the laughter and the tears. I am not ashamed to say that they have seen us fight, but I know this has not damaged them because we have pushed through and resolved our differences. As we navigated the bumps in the road, they have witnessed the ordinary coming to life.
What does that mean? My desire is that they have seen, and will continue to see, that through the seemingly mundane, through our everyday lives, we have laid a foundation of hope, trust and strength, which is firm enough and deep enough to carry them through life.
When we strive for the unattainable and focus on the impossible, though the goal looks enticing, the journey can be strewn with frustration and fatigue. Instead, we choose to give our children the real story. Through the wonder of our ordinary, we uncover the extraordinary.
As we continue our journey and look to the next 20 years, we revel in the ordinary. The simple joy of spending nights together cooking, tasting, dancing, laughing and singing. We bring the ordinary to life through family fun with food, exploration, learning and loving. We endeavour to engage with the world around us by building community wherever we go. We open our doors and say ‘Welcome’. By understanding that to have a friend you must first be one, by seeing that through the ordinary, change can happen, that our lives are meant to be lived on purpose and for purpose. We do this by extending ourselves and being kind when friends are in need, by saying yes when all we want to do is say no. We let our children hurt and feel the sadness of guilt and the joy of forgiveness and the release that it brings. By experiencing the deep pain of loss through death and that our mourning can turn to dancing if we let it. We touch not only with our hands but our hearts, our words, our minds and our ears.
We love deeply enough that it hurts and through that hurt, the ordinary becomes extraordinary.
How have we made it through 20 years together? How have we turned the ordinary into the extraordinary? For now, I can only say that it has been by putting one foot in front of the other. One moment of forgiveness after another, deep calling to deep, and just possibly, through a glimmer of an understanding that the tomorrow we hope for is worth all the work that today requires.