At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Twenty Years and Good Examples

I know I owe you readers an update on my readings (and next month we should have an even bigger nugget of news to pass along!), but today is a serious and joyful matter to share.

Twenty years ago today, Christina Marie Crowley said "I do" to me before God in Atlanta, Georgia. It's wonderful, surreal, and majestically glorious to know I have been with my bride for twenty years.

Christy and I were talking just last week how it has gone so quickly. In truth, years 10-20 have been the blur, especially as our tenth anniversary came when our youngest, Jordan, was still working through his issues in the NICU at St. Mary's Hospital in West Palm Beach, FL. That set in motion a zany, bone-jarring, heart-rattling three years of Jordan's health issues, Joshua's surgery, caring for Lindsay's needs in the midst of it all, Jordan's death, and then working through our complexities as a couple once we were picking up the pieces from it all. In truth, we've blinked and here we are.

It's especially staggering when I know of a number of people who didn't make it. Some divorces have been particularly ugly, some generally sad, but the dissolution of any union of that nature is tragic and is not what God intended, no matter how necessary a marriage's end might be given certain biblical conditions. Every marriage goes through cycles of joy and despondency; ours has been no exception. Thankfully, Christy and I have--by God's grace--faced each day with the mantra "I will never quit on him/her" at the center.

At its heart, love is a decision, a choice. Yes, there are emotional components to it, but we run into danger when we drag out phrases like "fallen deeply in love" (Because can you fall deeply out of love? What then?) or the Nicholas Sparks-inspired, vomit-inducing "soulmate" (don't get me started) if to suggest that love is primarily emotional. Yes, attraction and enrapturement (is that even a word?) and heart-thumping have their relationship begins to grow without them. But marriages are nourished when you choose to love your spouse every day, no matter what.

And for that, I have a lot of people to thank for their sterling examples. My parents have been married for fifty years. Uncle Bob and Aunt Judy (my mom's brother and sister-in-law) made it to fifty. On my dad's side, the fifty-plus club includes all his siblings, older brothers all. Uncle Walt and Aunt Dorothy. Uncle Glenn and Aunt Clarice. Uncle Red and Aunt Joan. Uncle Jim and Aunt Marlene. Not to mention Grandpa and Grandma Davis, who hit in the neighborhood of fifty-nine years before they died within a year of each other. And my maternal grandparents went past forty-seven years before Granddad Herron died, so coming up short there wasn't for lack of trying.

The amount of faithfulness in the above relationships, the marital determination to exhibit--to steal a phrase from Eugene Peterson--a long obedience in the same direction, is absolutely staggering in the midst of a culture that eats itself to death on narcissism, felt needs, and emotional drive while ignoring love's durability. The heart of love is not the dizzying thrills or the sexual memories (although those in great marriages would say those are pretty wonderful things!). Those events are the result of love that exists and grows rather than being its cause. It happens when the life of a couple becomes a display of Philippians 2:1-11 writ small.

I have a wonderful, beautiful wife, and I am in a gloriously happy marriage, one paved for me by the prayers and examples of those who have gone before. That's surely a matter for sober remembrance and exuberant thanks.