Friday, August 30, 2013
Dear God, What Have I Done?
I love the picture above. When Rich would teach scouts orienteering he would talk about compasses. In fact, he has a couple of really cool old ones that he has given to a couple of sons when they became men. A compass points the way to go, especially when you are lost. As a believer in Jesus I use God's word as my compass. Good thing too because the night before the wedding I got cold feet.
For some reason we decided to get married on a Monday afternoon. I know it doesn't make a lick of sense but that can just be added to the list of crazy things we did. So the day before the wedding was Sunday and we all went to morning and evening services. After the evening service we stayed and did the walk through for the wedding and then headed over to McDonald's.
That night I remember going into the bedroom and thinking this is crazy, you don't really know this guy type stuff. What if he is an ax murderer and I don't know it? Hormones and wedding jitters can be a funny thing! I was left alone in the room and just prayed. I knew what I was about to do was crazy but I also knew three things, and it is those three things that I held onto.
1. Rich loved God more than me
2. Rich and I had the same goals, same convictions about our roles in the marriage
3. Rich and I promised that the word divorce would never and I mean never be in our vocabulary
Those were the three things that I held onto. So Monday rolled around bright and sunshiny. The wedding was early in the afternoon. Weeks before Rich's Dad had gotten up in the pulpit at church and said, "You all know Jill has been living with us this summer. We decided we wanted her to become a part of our family so we visited a lawyer to see about adopting her. The lawyer told us she was over 18 so she was too old to adopt so the only other way we can get her into the family is to have her marry our son Rich. So I am here to announce the marriage of Jill to our son Rich, August 29th."
So on our wedding day Rich's Dad walked me down the aisle and then turned around and performed the ceremony. A day I will never forget. We had cake and punch at the church and then close friends came back to the house and had a party. When it was time for Rich and I to leave they all had confetti to throw at us. We ran to the car and I had just gotten in when my brand new mother in law threw one more handful of confetti. Somehow my mouth was open (imagine that) and a piece got lodged into my throat and I began to choke. I was so embarrassed and ran out of the car and back behind the house and puked. Not a great way to start on this blissful road called marriage!
We drove about an hour to a hotel that my new Dad had given us as a gift. We brought lots of confetti with us! It was the next morning that would be the most memorable. I woke up the next morning and looked at the floor strewn with confetti and looked over at the man I just married and in horror said, "Dear God, what have I done. I married a man I don't even know, what do I do now?" What I did not know until about 10 years later is this. When Rich woke up that first morning with his blushing bride next to him in bed he looked around and said, "Dear God, what have I done. I married this girl and I don't even know her, what have I done?"
What a great way to start a marriage! We both were in shock. What have we done. Of course back then, communication was not a skill we had so we both tucked that information deep down inside and waited a decade to come clean. Boy did we have a lot of work to do. That is why I call our story an unlikely story. Two people from two very different backgrounds who are both broken and wounded people come together and stay together for all these years.
I would love to tell you we fell head over heals in love that first morning after marrying but that would not be the truth. We had so much to learn. We loved the idea of love and loved the idea of a marriage and we had to learn how to make it work with almost total strangers. There have been several times in all these years that have tested our resolve. The death of our precious daughter Celeste, several years into our marriage would stretch us to the limits. I wanted to run and run far away. Grief does strange things to people. Then the death of our son David would challenge us to look beyond our own grief and work and grieve together.
So here we sit at the start of our 37th year. Rich's body is so tired and hurts beyond what any human should have to endure. Life is not fair and that is the truth. We had so many dreams about things we would do when we were done raising our children. We would work in ministry together, doing hospital visits together, inviting couples over for a meal to be an encouragement. All the plans and they are gone. When you stand at the altar and say your vows and say in sickness and in health, for better or for worse you have no clue what that means.
I know what it means now. I have learned that you can take two broken people and knit their lives together when you have God at the center and know that anything is possible. We are living proof of that. Till death do us part is the promise. Our love is an unlikely love story but one that should give great hope to those who struggle. God has given me a deep and abiding love for my precious husband. One that grew slowly but sure. That compass is ever before us. Thank you God for knitting us together all those years ago.
Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".