Drum roll, please!!!!!
Today, I have officially been married over half my life.
But y'all . . . I was married when I was twenty-one. I am now almost forty-three and have been married twenty-one years. Those are some sobering facts, especially when one forgets how long she has actually been on the planet. (AKA, denial)
Whew. Yesterday, on our actual anniversary, our kids asked us about the BIG DAY.
What were you doing at this time?
Were you scared?
How did mom look?
How did dad look?
Did you dance?
Oh, yes, we danced.
My handsome groom walked up to me, and whispered, "May I have this dance?"
I laughed aloud and nodded eagerly.
You see, we had been preparing for this moment. Our first dance was rehearsed, complete with twirls and dips. And we nailed it. We lovingly gazed into one another eyes and hummed a tune by Harry Connick, Jr., while we made our debut as Mr. and Mrs. Williams.
The children listened to our stories, squinted their eyes as they looked at Mom and Dad, trying to imagine the Before picture. Like all teenagers, they have difficulty understanding life existed before their first breath. Jeromy and I take great delight in reminding them of how that first breath came to be. Wink, wink.
Anyway . . .
Then, we transitioned into favorite memories.
First five years?
Jeromy and I smiled over breakfast, gave our answers, and gladly reminisced about our ups, downs, and sideways.
And we attempted to be transparent with the kids, as much as they can comprehend; some nuggets of wisdom are stamped with until later.
But grown-ups understand, or they should. The romanticized version of marriage is full of warm and fuzzy. But what about the happily-ever-after?
Like most people, we returned from the honeymoon, and the real dancing began. The in-step, out-of-step, you-just-stepped-on-my-toe for like the millionth time jig that all couples unwittingly engage in after the rainbow has faded and the unicorn makes his get-away with the Just Married sign.
Thankfully, during the first ten years, we were quite in-sync and despite certain hardships, very together—even if the grip was characterized with white knuckles and gritted teeth.
But when years 11-15 came up, I quirked one eyebrow over the rim of my coffee cup and he looked down at his bowl of cereal.
"Mom, Dad, c'mon! Favorite memory?!"
Finally, we made eye contact—a whole lot of memories exchanged in that one expression, and in unison said, "Survival."
You see, those were the years when we walked the valley of 'till death do us part—not hand-in-hand—but solo. Figuratively, we had decided you do your thing, I'll do mine and then we'll pass in the hallway, kiss the babies, and continue on our treks.
What ensued was equal, but separate meandering in that dangerous place called the land of cohabitation. As in, the music cues and you don't like the song, so let's just sit this one out becomes okay. Except it's not okay.
We were not only unintentional about spending time together, we didn't want to spend time together. Why? Because we didn't like each other. We looked back on our BIG DAY and remembered—not with fondness, but with a sense of Who were those people? and Where are they now?
Obviously, we found one another again and made it. A baby on each back, we held hands, begrudgingly at first, and climbed that darn mountain. Out of breath, we reached flat ground and looked back at the valley, saw our separate paths riddled with pain, hurt, and confusion, and vowed
never to re-visit That Place—alone.
And, praise God, we're dancing again. Have been for years now. Do we have bruises, bloodied toes, and sore backs? Yep. Do we cry, laugh, wince, and grit through the many maneuvers? Oh, yeah.
But, within the context of us we're reminded of the bigger picture. The eternal one. God uses marriage as a metaphor for relationship with His people. We, the followers of Jesus, are the bride. He is the groom. And sometimes, as the bride of Christ, just like as the bride of Jeromy, my dislike of circumstances causes me to head toward the wall of chairs and own the title of Wallflower. But is that what I'm called to do? Nope. I'm called to dance. And not alone; with the other followers of Jesus. To move toward the final goal, giving God the glory . . .
Even when I don't like the song.
Even when I'm tired of injuries.
Even when I don't like my partner.
Even when all I want to do is hide in a corner because this broken world has worn me slap out.
Even when . . .
After twenty-one years, I'm thankful for the calendar—the one that tells the story of us, but also the one that reminds me to take my partner's hand and dance till the last trumpet blows.
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.