A month from now, my husband and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary. We are now at the point where our children and our nieces and nephews and our friend’s children are getting married, which very well may make us old. I prefer the word “experienced.”
And what we’ve learned from 25 years of experience is a lot. Relationships require hard work and sacrifice, and sometimes it’s just easier to stop trying. We’ve been there too. But our hardest times have also been the source of our greatest joys. In fact, if you were to sum up marriage as a weather report, it would be described as mostly cloudy with showers of blessings.
I quit my full-time job as a newspaper editor after I gave birth to our oldest son, and that meant our household income was cut nearly in half as I struggled to earn enough freelance income to keep us afloat. Loose change became a priceless commodity. Eating out became a memory. But that made any extravagance special.
Even fast food became an extravagance, such as on the night we treated ourselves to dinner at McDonald’s and tickets to see Aladdin in the theater. Never had a cheeseburger – the only sandwich l could afford – tasted so good, and never had I been so excited about seeing a movie, even if it were animated.
Vacations were often to the homes of relatives or friends or were the product of an insanely good deal we got through a friend of a friend, but every one became an adventure. Our favorite vacation – a trip to the Grand Canyon – was largely the product of a friend’s generosity. Even in the desert, the blessings rained down.
One particular week, grocery money was nonexistent. Then one evening I heard a knock at my door, which I opened to find bags and boxes of food. I cried with joy. Never did I take a full fridge or pantry for granted again. The showers of blessings had poured upon us yet again.
As our kids grew, we had always planned that I would return to work, and we would put our sons in a Christian school. But God had a different plan, one that caught both of us by surprise, and so we ended up homeschooling for 16 years. With my career and income taking a back burner as I experienced intense moments of fellowship daily with my strong-willed children, you could say we had a little stress. But I chose to view my pint-sized sources of stress as blessings from God.
Through those lean times marked by intense moments of fellowship, God – in His great grace – allowed us to raise two sons who are called to full-time ministry. Had I not temporarily put aside my career, had I not committed my full attention to the education and training of my sons, had my husband not supported me in every way, I’m convinced they would have been lost and entrapped in the world.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” – Psalm 103:1-5
Life is hard. Marriage is harder. This is my message to our children, our nieces, our nephews, and our friend’s children. Go into both with your eyes open to the struggles and especially to the blessings. And there will be plenty of both. But the latter far outweighs the former.