30 Nov Building a Fine House
It began over thirty years ago. Or did it begin before that? Did God have the two of us in mind for one another when He laid the foundations of the earth? He knew what was coming, so He knew we would be together. The two of us. The five of us. The generations yet to be.
We arrived at the Philadelphia airport after our honeymoon. It was mid-December—rainy and cold. The shuttle brought us to the parking lot and dropped us off. But we couldn’t remember where we’d parked the car. I stood in a bus shelter with our luggage while Todd walked around in the dark, in the rain, scouring the lot. It felt like hours, Todd doubling back to me every so often. Somehow, I didn’t mind standing there in the cold. I didn’t feel rushed or worried. I was content–peaceful even–waiting for my husband. Finally, he pulled up in my 1991 Hampshire Green Honda Accord, and we headed home. We turned up the heat and slowly coaxed life into our frozen extremities, while the radio played, “Our house is a very, very, very fine house.”
This life was new and exciting. Our love was young. We’d known each other since we were kids, but we’d been “together” just over a year when we married. Added to that, we were one of those rare couples that started having sex on our wedding night, not before. So that was new, too.
We went home to our very fine house, and we began the very hard work of melding two lives into one. When I say it was hard work, I don’t mean that negatively. We had our lows, believe me, but we also had incredible highs. We were laying the foundation of our family. Hard work is imperative to producing something good.
We were working out our relationship, much the same way we work out our salvation in this world. When I look back on those first few years of marriage, I’m glad we’ve moved beyond that to a different stage. The shouting matches are over (for the most part). Miscommunications and hurt feelings are rare now. There was an underlying uncertainty then about who this person actually was and whether they meant what they said standing up in church that day. Those trials are behind us. Some of the fears seem downright silly now, no matter how real they were at the time.
The struggles in the stage we’re living now are less intense, but perhaps more crucial. The newness has worn off. We have to be careful not to take each other for granted. We can be tricked into thinking we know everything there is to know about one another. Grass in other pastures might sometimes appear greener, or at least more exciting. We’re consumed with the whole-body draining task of raising three children. We try to fit our different vocations into this framework. Then we attempt to find the time to have a real conversation. The biggest challenge is remembering that all those questions we had in the beginning have pretty much been answered satisfactorily.
I know your heart now. You mean to do me good and not evil all the days of your life. You meant what you said all those years ago standing up in church that day . . . and so did I.
It will be seventeen years on Saturday. We are still working out our marriage every day.
It isn’t easy, but it is so worth it.