In November of 2006, Josh proposed to me in the woods behind his parents house on the day after Thanksgiving. He built a trellis, hung 50 long stem roses in two beautiful bouquets, and put sand down on the ground so it wouldn’t be muddy. Though we had talked about getting married, his proposal was a complete shock, as the day before Thanksgiving he was in a car accident that completely totaled his truck. It is hard to explain the overwhelming feelings I had at that time. I was excited and nervous about the prospect of making such a huge life decision when I was so young. But more, I remember the immense feeling of wanting to be close to Josh. I remember that I couldn’t hug him tight enough, couldn’t feel whole just being with him, I needed to be PART of him.
Life has handed us some pretty hard times in the last 2 years. Josh lost his Godfather & brother-in-law in a car accident in February of 2010. This was first in a whole list of hardships, including paying for a twin pregnancy and birth without maternity insurance (and discovering that we lost at least 1 if not 2 babies in that pregnancy, which could have led to quadruplets!), losing my job, being confined to bed rest for the last 2 months of my pregnancy, Josh’s father passing away, Josh switching to a commission job in a crappy economy, a ridiculous bout of postpartum depression, my car breaking down, Josh’s truck breaking down, and the discovery of some serious health situations for several of our family members. Needless to say, our marriage has been tested…and tested… and tested.
There are times when fighting is the only communication that happens, because you are fighting with yourself 24 hours a day. Having your spouse be a part of you means that you are arguing with that part too. When time goes by and things don’t get better, you start to lose parts of yourself. The part that laughs, the part that cries, the part that is interested in anything, and the part that is the other person. You forget what it felt like to be full, to have God and your spouse working at all times to strengthen your three person partnership.
And then, God grants you a reminder of how simple it used to be. He blesses you with a moment that shows you that this partnership, this marriage, can and still is the partnership it was meant to be. But the blessing comes from your own giving, not receiving. It comes from within you, not without. It comes from recognizing that even though there is a divine entity in your marriage, it is not yourself, and it is not your spouse.
My moment came a few weeks ago, when God blessed me with the kind of inspiration that pops up from time to time between the clouds of mommy brain fog. My mother-in-law is notorious for buying a new camera when her memory card gets full. She could pull the pictures off and re-use the card, she could buy a new card. Instead, she gets a new camera. So, when she mentioned this again, I asked where her old cameras were, and if I could replace the batteries or get the pictures off of the old disks for her. And behold, one of the cameras she gave me held a treasure I had long forgotten and written off as gone forever. Though she had removed the memory card, eight photos remained on her November 2006 camera. Among the photos of Thanksgiving dinner were pictures from our engagement.
And there it was…the blessing I needed. Because of Josh’s car accident he couldn’t move his neck. As he bent on one knee, he couldn’t look me in the face to ask me to marry him. Instead, he gazed at the gift he offered me. The pictures show the effort in his face, as he tried to turn his eyes up toward my shocked smile. How amazing that our married life could start out with such a painful and humble gesture. How could I have leaned on him so much over the years, when he came to me already so broken, so human?
Of course, this doesn’t instantly make our marriage perfect or stronger, but it makes me want to give a lot more. I want to allow him to win the fight, I don’t want to go to bed angry, I don’t want to watch him leave for work after an argument. I want to try harder, and I want to lean on the only part of this marriage that will actually get me through, the divine part, God. As Josh and I continue to struggle with more bills than paycheck, more demands than time, more insecurities than confidence, I want to lift him up. I’m looking for the opportunities, hopefully God with grant me the grace of sight. And maybe, some day soon, he will grant us a break.