To say that we celebrated 18 years of marriage last week wouldn’t be quite right. If we’re honest, not all 18 of the years were really celebration worthy. Some were more like hanging on for dear life. Others like the rickety old wooden roller coaster at the fair, long and slow hard climbs up only to get that gut wrenching fall back down, all the while never quite knowing if you’re going to become completely derailed.
But there we were. 18 years behind us.
We’ve come far and yet we still long for so much further to go. So many years to grow, to learn, to have time to re-do some of the harsh words spoken, more time to get it just right.
I’m learning that we’ll probably never get to where we want to be, though. We’ll never get it just right with the perfect formulation of love and care and selflessness. We’ll never have that perfect spot of finances all in order and health just so and the world around us all peachy keen.
Instead, we hope to simply be further along than we are today. To have learned something. Grown in some way. Drawn closer together in a new fashion or remembered an old one.
It seemed just about right that we weren’t sitting in a fancy restaurant or any restaurant at all. It made sense that we weren’t whisking away to some secluded weekend spot. It was just so telling of the times that we met somewhere in the middle of the hall, me still in my pj’s and him smelling fresh and clean of shower, looked at each other and said our happy anniversaries, topped off with a kiss that lingered for just a second longer than usual and then carried on with our day.
Because this is where we are. We’re heading off to work with shoulder bags slung and coffee mugs in hand. We’re knocking on bathroom doors and yelling our usual, “It’s almost time to go’s!” We’re saying goodbyes and I love you’s and we’re locking doors and heading off on our ways because this is the time we’re in.
It did progress though, this special day. We had an evening out without our children because it was mandatory they not come. We sat surrounded by strangers, about to become quick friends. I looked at my husband beside me in the stark, cold room of the government office. Took in his face and watched him listen attentively to what was being said. Watched him shake his head in disbelief as we learned what trauma looks like to kids in our very city. Watched him nod along with our teacher as she spoke of giving these kids hope. Love. Even the simple necessities of food and clothing and safety that they’ve perhaps never had before.
I smiled to myself as I thought, “Happy 18th Anniversary.” Hawaiian Islands having nothing on this. Dishes that would make a foodie swoon and the perfect wine pairing can’t compare. Sure, for a second I thought that maybe a walk holding hands might be nicer than learning about separation and grief but it was fleeting. Because the truth is, there’s no place I’d rather be with my man on our anniversary than in a place of seeking and serving the Lord. Offering Him our lives, our hands, our time, our home and seeing where that leads. This anniversary it meant we sat in training, learning how to be a safe place for children who don’t even know what that should look like.
It might just be my favourite anniversary to date.