As I alluded to a couple of days ago, today is my eighth wedding anniversary with my lovely wife, Jana, and four of them have been the happiest years of my life (that's a joke, people. My father-in-law used to use that one a good bit, and it never gets old).
Much like a lot of things I've noticed as I've gotten older, the last eight years seem to be simultaneously a moment and an eternity. Weird how that happens. In that time we've had our share of adventures, and I am continually grateful to be with her as we find our share of new ones.
I am often reminded of something profound that Jana and I read during our pre-marital counseling from the book, A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Van Auken. I passed the book along a few years ago, so I don't have an exact quote, but the gist of the passage was this - that it's actually quite easy to destroy a marriage, and negligence is the most dangerous assassin. Van Auken spoke of his own marriage, about how he and his wife dedicated themselves to each other's interests in order that they may avoid what he called the "creeping separateness." It boiled down to a simple truth, that each day a married couple will either choose to take a small step toward one another or a small step away. The application is that if we're not careful, we can easily erode our own marriages by slowly and surely drifting apart from one another.
That particular part of the book is ingrained in my consciousness. With the increasing amounts of things out there to entertain us, it is very easy to drift apart. I'm not going to criticize anyone for playing video games, but there is a hard reality for someone who spends hours alone playing games online by himself. The Van Aukens of A Severe Mercy figured that surrendering all the things you love to do (i.e., playing video games) wasn't really all that helpful either, so instead, they chose to do such things together for the sake of their marriage.
Jana has always done this. She knows things about music and recording and Weezer and comic books that she probably wouldn't have except that she's married to a guy who knows a lot about those things (a great example would be the very nice guitar I mentioned in the last post... she had taken the time to learn that about me). And I know about soccer and Young Life and Wendell Berry books and David Wilcox records because those are things she is interested in. Jana taught me how to throw a frisbee and play Ultimate; I taught her about the X-Men. And our marriage is much stronger, deeper, and better for having done so. Like with anything, I find that if I can get inside of something new and engage it in my life, I will find a new appreciation for it. And with each passing day, month, and year, I continue to find newness and a new appreciation for her as we continue to, as best as we know how, to take those small steps towards each other.
I've certainly done some boneheaded things in the last eight years, some of which cost us a little money and time and some others that cost us a lot more money and time. But despite my crazy ideas that haven't worked as well as I thought, Jana has remained my biggest fan, encouragement, and example of God's feelings about me through her love with no strings attached, her patience, and at times, her compassionate forgiveness. I am not worthy of such a love, nor is it something I could have earned. It is a gift, and God forgive me for the times I have taken that for granted.
Almost eleven years ago, Jana and I fell in love working as summer camp counselors on St. Simons Island. It was the day before the end of the summer, and neither one of us really wanting it to be so, we ended up staying up all night, dipping our feet in the Epworth fountain, and fighting mosquitoes as big as your head under a full moon. Three years later we returned to that fountain, and I asked her if she might like to do such things with me for the rest of her life. That's where the song, A Lovely Shade of You, came from. I don't write too many traditional relationship love songs, but certain occasions call for such a thing.
Okay, enough sap for today. I've got things to do and kids to wrangle and clothes to wash. But I wanted to take a few moments to celebrate my wife; heck, maybe if we all did that a bit more our divorce rate wouldn't be so high.