January 4 is our 34th wedding anniversary. Sometimes it feels like a whispered breeze, barely noticed before gone. Often it feels more like a very long time, until I remind myself it’s just over half the years my parents will have been married next month. It hasn’t been easy; it hasn’t looked much like what either of us envisioned the day we walked down the aisle.
But we’ve grown, sometimes quickly, often slowly. The apostles told Jesus that if a man couldn’t divorce his wife then it would be better not to be married. But it’s that very commitment that can force two people to decide that learning to get along is better than a lifetime of misery. I thank God for the commitment demanded by Him that has taken us through hard times to this place of contentment with each other, commitment that didn’t allow us to consider anything but faithfulness "till death do us part."
Mainly we’ve learned a little about the nature of love. Sure, romance and fireworks are nice. But love is so much deeper. Love is the placing of the beloved above the self, desiring his or her good above one’s own, and the willingness to sacrifice for that truth. No one does it all the time; I do it less well than most, perhaps. But we have both learned something of this over time; I am privileged to be loved well by the man who committed himself to me.
It is this sacrificial love within iron-clad commitment that allows true affection to grow. Every time one puts the other first, it creates a deeper respect and concern than already existed; it reminds one that the other is a bearer of the image of God as well as a needy fallen man or woman – and both those identities require respect and concern, require the love of God Himself placed within us through the sacrifice of the Son and the seal of the Holy Spirit. And this is the genesis of affection that shows itself in constant little ways each day -- a blanket in the middle of the night, a note of encouragement, a glass of water on a hot summer day, a simple smile at a shared memory . . .
I am grateful for these thirty-four years.