Tuesday 10 July 2012

Witnessing Love

It has been a little quiet around here lately, hasn't it? My beautiful sister-in-law got married this weekend - married! - so I drove up last week with the boys and my growing belly to be here for the big day.

Every single one of those 12 hours in the car were entirely worth it to witness such magic.

And hey, you know me - I'm here navel-gazing the whole time, thinking about marriage and husbands and love and frustrations and all the ups and downs of the whole messy thing.

Because the husband had to stay behind and work for a couple more days, the boys and I were here alone until he flew up to join us. Two days of fielding questions alone, the same repeated series of questions from family, extended family, family friends, people I've met but don't know, and people I have never met in my life. Two days of guests and preparations and conversations and solo parenting in a home that isn't mine.

And even though I absolutely adore every one of the ten in-laws that either live here or came in from out of town for the wedding, those two days were all it took for me to intensely feel the absence of my own husband.

I really really missed him.

And then he (finally) got here and greeted me with a vague side hug and didn't notice my newly-cut hair and headed downstairs to watch sports with the men without giving me so much as a peck on the cheek and suddenly I couldn't remember why I had missed him at all.

That's marriage for you. Sometimes, anyway.

But it's so much more, too. Once he was here, I felt grounded again. Here was my pillar, my support, my buffer, my anchor. Here was a strong hand in mine, a comforting arm around my back, a knowing gaze, a silent conversation. Here was someone I could always seek out in a crowd, someone I could join without feeling like I was intruding. Here was the one beside whom I could face the world.

And more. Here was the one who helps carry the burdens of our life together, both big and small. Somehow it's the small things that seem to mean the most - the way he brushes the boys' teeth because I hate the sensation; the way he phones on his way home to see if I need anything; the way he brings me water or makes me tea or any of the other countless ways he seeks to serve me and help me. Sometimes we're selfish or ignorant or thoughtless, but always the desire is to serve one another, submit to one another, consider the other's needs and wants and thoughts and perspectives.

And oh, those perspectives. Marriage is endless discovery. I know him and yet I don't, because there's always more. He knows me and yet he is often surprised, adding another piece to the puzzle that is the woman he married.

I remember the days after our marriage, hiding away in what was now our condo, both of us in a state of perpetual joyous awe. We had gotten married; how insanely lucky were we? I felt a (perhaps odd) sense of relief over the finality of it all. Of course nothing is certain, but we were young newlyweds; tragedy was the farthest thing from our minds at that moment. Instead we found comfort in the security of our vows.

That sense of comforting security has yet to leave. He knows both the best and the worst parts of me, and yet he continues to love me. Like motherhood, marriage has significantly deepened my understanding of God's love for His people. My husband sees my deepest flaws and yet he loves me anyway. God knows my heart, my inner thoughts, and yet He loves me anyway. It is the most humbling thing I know of, to be loved anyway.

Humbling. Out of all else, it is that single word that stands out as describing marriage. It has been for me a source of both great joy and deep fury. It has been a continual lesson in holding loosely to expectations, letting go of all that I thought marriage should look like and embracing instead the uniqueness that is the two of us. It has been a steady refining of my understanding of what it means to be my husband's ezer kenegdo, his valiant ally who opposes in wrong and supports in righteousness.

Nothing is quite what I pictured when I said I will, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

To my beautiful sister-in-law and my new brother-in-law:

May you be blessed with wisdom, patience, and understanding.
May you continually learn more about each other,
growing closer as you work together.
May you be compassionate,
placing the other before yourself and doing everything in love.

We love you guys.

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