This week Jan and I celebrated 30 years of marriage. When you say “30 years”, it sounds like a long time, but as I look back on it, it stills seems like yesterday that we said “I do” and walked out of the church. Number 30 went by without much of a huge celebration and marker, like some might have had. We celebrated the day walking the streets of Santa Fe, NM, with our girls and with Jan’s sister and her family from Washington DC. Dinner was shared with the four of us over pizza and salad. I didn’t even get her a card. Don’t worry, she didn’t give me one either.
I remember the day 30 years ago. It was over 100 degrees in Arlington, TX, and we stood for almost 4 hours for the wedding ceremony and the reception. I was grateful for air conditioning. That was in the day you had an actual receiving line and stood and met everyone coming through to tell you how excited they were. Others munched on finger foods and drank punch and coffee; we stood and greeted our many friends and family that made the day so special. And it was truly special, one I will cherish the rest of my life.
I remember the vows that we made to each other. They were the traditional vows, “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish, till death do us part.” We stood and looked deeply into each other’s eyes and recited those vows with all the commitment we could hold that day. Today I look back over a span of 30 years and realize how important those vows truly were. We have experienced each of them, all within varying degrees.
There have been some better days, days that were rich with joy and celebration. There have been some worse days as well when we wondered what tomorrow would bring, if indeed our commitment would last. There have been days when we didn’t have another penny to our name, wondering where we would find a dollar to buy food for the next week. God always provided. Always and without exception. These days would be considered those that are richer, but they are born out of hard work and toil. Though we still are careful in our spending, I no longer have to ask if I can fill up the car with gas.
When we made the commitment in sickness and in health, we were young and strong and able to do anything physically we wanted to do. These days are beginning to show the toll of health concerns that often come with age, among other things, and we are making decisions sometimes based on what we can manage physically. These were not considered 30 years ago.
During our wedding ceremony we had a song sung called A Wedding Blessing. The chorus of this blessing said, “I wish you joy, I wish you peace, I wish you laughter in the house when everything goes wrong…but most of all I wish you God’s pure love.” Jan and I have talked about this wedding blessing many times over these 30 years. This blessing has been what has helped us get through these years and made it last. We have truly laughed when everything went wrong. We’ve laughed when we argued, somehow managed to laugh when we fought, and laughed when the days were great. Not every time, but enough to get us through. We have found joy in the midst of heartache, peace in the midst of difficult days, and yes, we have been blessed with God’s pure love that covers a multitude of, well, other things.
These days we are still blessed to have our parents on both sides still with us and in relative great health. After several years of dealing with infertility, God blessed us with twin girls. They have the laughter gene too. They are creative, insightful, and very smart. Sometimes it scares me how much smarter they are than me! Sometimes I have to remind them that I am still their father.
I recently participated in the funeral of a man who had been married for more than 72 years. Their marriage was precious. A few years back, upon their 70th, we did an interview of them. They talked of the marriage and the love that they shared, but that it hadn’t always been a picnic along the way. They spoke of their commitment and how they worked through difficult days along their journey. One thing I’ve learned is that we know not what the journey will bring. Not tomorrow or the next day. Or in the coming year. I am grateful, however, and blessed, to have the one I love along this journey.
Here’s to 30 more!