One time I was visiting with a woman who was expressing the overwhelming nature of being a parent. She confessed her envy. I had done things right, she said, by having kids young. She and her husband had met later in life, having spent many years single before finding each other and getting married. They’d had and enjoyed their years of freedom, but now they were exhausted and old.
There was one positive, she stated. She and her husband had always had a wonderfully happy marriage. They’d both been in serious relationships before marrying, and had made all of their worst relationship mistakes on other people. At that point it was my turn to marvel, wondering what in the world it would be like to be married to a person you hadn’t wrecked and destroyed.
When we were eighteen years old, my husband and I got back together after the second time of breaking up. We were getting ready to start another summer, our third, of working together. Both of us had gotten to camp early, and we spent several days together before the rest of the staff got there. We spent one of the evenings on the lookout tower, just hanging out and talking.
I remember walking back toward camp that evening and thinking, “This is the man I’m going to marry.” It wasn’t like some love-induced fantasy. It was very matter-of-fact, and I was resolved and accepting of this reality that had just become clear in my mind. There was no official time of getting back together. We were just together from that point on, and it was mutually understood.
I have sometimes looked back on that moment with anger. Stupid me and my fairy tale, magical thinking. What an idiot to base such a huge, momentous life direction on something as intangible as a stupid thought in your head. But stupid or not that’s what I did. And every time there was pain, or doubt, or despair and misunderstanding, I went back to that thought.
“But we have a love story.” Another one of those magical thoughts I kicked and despised. And if I hear one more thing about dying to my flesh and my sinful desires… Except somewhere that’s still true, and just because I have wrongly applied it in the past, doesn’t mean I still don’t need to rightly apply it now. And it isn’t wrong to want love.
“You can only be the dream wife to the man you’re not married to.” Another thought, crystal clear. Once you are married, you are the real wife. You’re no longer a dream, and no longer naïve, or at least you shouldn’t be for too long. And I have wanted to be the dream, and I have wanted to stay naïve, when God would have for me love and wisdom.
O Lord, I believe.