Today is my parents' 54th anniversary. Wow. That's along time to know and love someone. It has caused me to reflect on marriage. I have had two of them, and enough time has gone by that I can look on this statement with some clarity instead of shame, embarassment, bewilderment, horror, anger or sadness. Yet, it still surprises me.
It has taken me many years to accept that I am divorced and I have decided that divorce is something you never recover from. Never. You can get over feelings and thoughts of your former spouse - but you never get over the loss of your life dreams, the grief over your failure or the way it affected your children. The impact lasts forever. Divorce sucks and I would not wish it on my worst enemy.
Having said that - I now reflect on these two distinctly polarized eras of my life. The first marriage came much too early in my life. I was convinced that I was a mature adult, but I was not. Neither was he. Nevertheless we ventured through the wilderness of young adulthood together- we struggled to find jobs and create a life out of nothing but dreams. We exhausted ourselves trying to make a home out of a rundown house. We shared the ultimate joy of a daughter and a son. But we were not able to distinguish reality from the mere picture of a perfect family. We tried for 15 years and that cannot be ignored. Those years, I now understand, were equal in value to anything in my life now. It was my youth.
Now I am married to someone whose deep love, passion and friendship I treasure and appreciate. He raises the bar on integrity. He gives me space to grow and be a better person. And he will journey with me into old age. (Could this be the bigger challenge?) The second time around as not necessarily been easier, but the rewards have been countless. In our parents we see the security of a long life together and we are committed to that. We can also see the changes that aging will bring (but when we look at each other we strangely look as we did on the day we met).
One marriage was my youth, my past, my parenting years. And this one - this one is my future. I value them both and only now can embrace what they both have meant to me. I do, however, acknowledge envy for those of you who did it right the first time. If you did, please recognize how you have been blessed. You don't know the pain you have escaped.
Amy Grant has a song with the lyrics - if you find someone who's faithful, if you find someone who's true - thank the Lord. He's been doubly good to you.
So Happy 54th Anniversary Mom and Dad. God's been doubly good to you.