Thirty-five years ago to today I stood at the end of an aisle and awaited my lover’s approach in her long, white gown. We had dated over three years, graduated from college together six days before, and now stood on the dock of the greatest adventure of our young lives.
What is so amazing to me is that our love as only grown deeper over the years even as we have changed so much. I am not the same young man she fell in love with and she is not the young woman I fell for. We have both changed greatly over the years and not in ways either of us expected. Our continued joy has not been trying to stay compatible, but in fighting hard to find the “us” at every stage of our journey.
I’ve learned this over the past 35 years. Joy does not come from getting all that I want, nor is it giving Sara everything that she wants. The fullest joy has come in finding those things we can say yes to together. Wherever we could find that place where we could both participate wholeheartedly we found great joy.
That doesn’t mean we both don’t have things the other does not enjoy. Sara thinks golf is a stupid game, and I don’t enjoy the gardening that brings such peace and refreshing to Sara. So we have our times of doing things the other doesn’t have to participate in. But the bulk of our friendship is found where we share wholeheartedly our life together—the decisions that fit us both, the moments that express what is inside each of us, the friendships we enjoy together, and the spiritual journey that has drawn us closer to the Father’s heart.
Through awesome joy and bitter pain we’ve somehow found a way to get on the same page together. That hasn’t always been true in our journey. At many points we couldn’t see eye-to-eye and struggled with what was happening in the other. That’s been quite a process since we both are flawed humans, making our share of mistakes, at times taking the other for granted, and sometimes just wanting things our way.
But we’ve never settled for a disjointed friendship kept looking ways for our hearts to be joined together anew and find those things that would express both of us. That has not been easy, but we always put our growing friendship above any thing else we might have wanted for ourselves and the fruits of that has been its own reward. And our trust for each other has grown through it all because neither of us ever betrayed the other’s trust.
Right now we not only seem to be on the same page, but even in the same sentence. I don’t think we’ve arrived, and I’ve no doubt that time and circumstance will yet challenge us, but we are wholeheartedly committed to sharing this journey together, no matter what.
So we wake up to our 35th anniversary this morning ever more in love. And by love I don’t mean the starry-eyed romance of fiction, but the deep-seated friendship that does the hard work of caring, serving, changing, working together, being true, and all the while cherishing the other. I stand amazed at all we have shared together, and grateful that we have each stayed faithful to the promises we made to each while standing on that metaphorical dock a long time ago. We do see all of this as an act of God’s grace working in our hearts and lives and find great contentment in the settled love we share together.
Sara, thank you for 35 awesome years. Thanks for going on this journey with me and being a partner on it, helping shape the realities that have formed our life together. I love you, Sweetheart, only and always!
The fullest fruit of it I enjoy now is in the unbridled joy of my wife. She has always been fun to be around, but through our early years she was quite reserved. But as God has shaped her, she embraces life with a greater joy and it spills out at times in spontaneous laughter that rings with freedom and joy. Hearing that laugh is among my favorite sounds today.
We’d wish the same for every couple we know. A life of love and true friendship is a great reward! And if you’re not enjoying it now, there’s no time like the present to start on a different journey together, where you fight for your friendship more than anything else.