i've been so fortunate to have had wonderful examples of love and strong marriages in my life. the rarity of both in this day and age is not lost on me. throughout my 31 years i've been able to witness acts of love, kindness, and faithfulness as well as acts of determination, grit, and forgiveness from some of the most important people in my life. and while witnessing their acts of love for one another, it simultaneously shaped my view of what love is. and to be honest, it's a lot to live up to.
this week marked my parents' 35th wedding anniversary. i am beyond proud of the fact that they are still in love and happily married after so many years. especially since, in their case, statistically - the odds have been against them: high school sweethearts married not long after graduation, three young children born close together soon after that, one of those children with disabilities. they've been through the heartache of loss (children, parents, jobs, dreams), sickness, financial struggles, and the ups and downs of raising a child with disabilities. and yet, they've remained faithful. faithful to each other, faithful to their family, faithful to their God, and faithful to the commitment that they made so many years ago. in fact, on this their 35th wedding anniversary, they weren't able to be together because they are serving and loving on others on opposite sides of the world. they chose to selflessly spend the anniversary of their love sharing with others about the greatest love there is - the love of Jesus.
i've learned so much from my mom and dad - everything from basic life lessons to the more meaningful that can only be taught be example. i've learned that marriage is not easy. there will be times of struggle and times of uncertainty, but that does not equal defeat. i've learned that the best thing you can do is dig in, press on, and fight until you get to the other side. i've learned that laughing and having fun together is not just beneficial, it's necessary. i've seen firsthand the goodness of God through the faithfulness of my mom and dad in their marriage. if "love is what you've been through with somebody..." then i'm pretty sure my parents are proof that love can be walking through the darkest of days and coming out on the other side not only stronger, but united.
today marks one year since my grandad went to be with jesus. there are times it feels like it's been much longer than just a year and then other times it feels like it was only yesterday. i know that my mawmaw is rejoicing, as we all are, that he is healthy, healed, and home with his maker. but i also know that it doesn't ease the pain of missing him. i consider it a true blessing to have been able to witness their love for one another. theirs was another marriage, much like my parents', that shaped my life and my views on love. my mawmaw and grandad loved each other and they loved jesus. and it was evident to everyone that came in contact with them. they were the epitome of love and commitment. i know that they faced many difficult times throughout their marriage as well. they raised five children and experienced the ups and downs of life - sometimes more "downs" than "ups." and yet, they never focused on the difficult times. they used them to learn from, but the treasured memories that were retold over and over were always, always rooted in joy.
the marriage of my mawamw and grandad was one that exemplified the marriage vows; to love and to cherish, in sickness and health, in good times and bad. as much as you mean those vows when you take them, they tend to take on a different meaning once you actually have to LIVE them. i'm sure my mawmaw and grandad had no idea when they stood beside each other and took those vows as a young couple- teenagers, really- what all those vows would entail. that 50 years later they would mean standing beside the one you love and feeding him his lunch because he can no longer do it himself. or holding hands with the love of your life and reliving the memories that only one of you can recall. if "love is what you've been through with somebody..." then i'm sure the love of mawmaw and grandad is a testament that love isn't what you remember, it's what you do and who you are. love is joyfully keeping the memories alive for those that can't, even when your heart is breaking.
so this week, and always, i'm thankful for the examples of love that i've had in my life. marriages that stay together, pray together, and give the glory to God. and although i do love the quote by james thurber, i think i'd have to add to it. "love is what you've been through with somebody... and bring glory to God because of it."
i'm thankful that because of my parents and grandparents, i know that this is possible. i've seen it firsthand.
"three things will last forever- faith, hope, and love -and the greatest of these is love."
1 corinthians 13:13