My wife, Lisa, and I are celebrating our twenty-fifth anniversary this month and I’m in a reflective mood. Twenty-five years is a long time, it’s a quarter of a century. I’ve spent more than half of my time on this earth as a married man and father (our oldest is a twenty-four year old honeymoon baby). It’s amazing when I stop and think about the last twenty-five years.
We didn’t have cell phones or email, no Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. We started dating and got engaged while we were in college. During our summers apart I wrote actual letters, on paper with a pen, and physically mailed them with envelopes and stamps, to Lisa. We would call each other, but only a few times a week due to long distance phone charges. We went weeks without actually seeing each other.
Today I got frustrated because I couldn’t get in touch with her on my cell phone while I was standing in an aisle at Hobby Lobby trying to figure out which craft magnets she wanted. I called. I texted. Nothing. I had to wait an entire fifteen minutes before reaching her. How the times have changed.
There are certain parts of my relationship with Lisa that are unchanged, even “old” like me; they’ve been with us for as long as we’ve been together. The way she laughs, her smile, her insistence that I pay attention to her when she’s talking to me rather than watching TV, our conflicting tastes in movies, our love for the mountains of North Carolina, but most importantly our love and commitment to Christ has stood the test of time. I love that my wife is a woman of prayer. Through the good times and bad she has remained faithful to her first love, Jesus.
Marriage, like life, isn’t idle. There is no resting on the past, to quote Walt Disney we “keep moving forward.” It is refreshing that after twenty-five years there is still newness in our relationship. Of course, having children is a guarantee of constant change, but I’m talking about a freshness within our relationship as husband and wife. We develop new hobbies, new friendships, and have new experiences. The one thing that keeps our love new and fresh above all is how we share our love and lives with Jesus. Opening ourselves to being led by the Holy Spirit brings new opportunities to be stretched and to grow. We’ve experienced new ways of praying with and inviting God into our family and new ways of sharing God’s love with others.
Reflecting on our marriage also leads me to reflecting on my relationship with God as well. The bible uses spousal imagery to describe God’s relationship with us more than anything else. St. Paul even tells us that our experience of marriage is a sign of Christ’s love for the Church. (Eph. 5:21-33) I’ve come to see my relationship with God within this marital context. Just as Lisa is on my mind throughout the day, so is God. Prayer begins to closely resemble sitting on the porch with Lisa sipping some wine, talking about our days, and just being in each other’s company. While my relationship with God has some old habitual patterns it also is constantly growing and changing. Everyday can lead to something new if I’m willing to risk following him.