Because of the demands on the mission and the electricity, My Dear does not shave his head everyday. In fact, he doesn't even do it weekly so his hair is growing out. I have noticed the change in color in some spots. I was surprised by the shiny slivers of silver in his hair.
My hair too is sporting a cluster of grey A patch right in the front. While Skyping with a family member while My Dear had a quick trip to the states, I heard him quietly whisper, "did you see the spot in her hair?" I realized he too had noticed yet another change in his former 21 year old bride. I mentioned that I was going to get it colored while we are on furlough and he was quick to say, "No you're not!" Not that he wouldn't let me but just to let me know how he truly felt about the spot of "wisdom."
My hands now look like my mother's. My abdomen has housed 3 babies that took a breathe of air that captured us as their biggest fans. It is no longer flat as it once was. It droops and folds around the scar that brought one of children to our arms. Parts are sagging, dropping, shacking, and flapping and well, I am no longer 21. Some of me is bigger now than before.The diamond he bravely asked my parents if he could give me still spins on my hand beside the $40 gold band that is more precious to me than any real estate.
My Dear can no longer land his back tuck that swept me away. In fact, he doesn't even try it anymore. His 24-year-old baby face now wears a beard speckled with a salt, pepper, and a few shards of ginger. His body is still strong but grows tired at the end of the day. He is not up for midnight basketball games like before. Instead of gathering sports equipment off of the floor, I am gathering books and commentaries.
I remember coming home from a special education conference that overlapped with his youth ministry conference and finding a card on my pillow in the days when it was just the two of us. Years later, the bed had nursing pads, burp clothes, tiny socks that had fallen off during the night time feedings when I was just too tried to sit up in the rocking chair. Later, we found little cars in the sheets, "blankies", and favorite board books. Sometimes they brought a giggle and sometimes we were just too weary to appreciate what was our normal. We passed out beside one another to prepare to do it all again the next day. Recently, I pull the covers back to find a big ole Holman Christian Standard Bible.
When we were first married, I would get emotional and just need to talk and cry that one time a month. He, of course, wanted to fix it. He would try so hard and what I really wanted him to do was just listen. I came up with a line that I would add to my weeping and jabbering to clue him in that I just wanted him to listen and hug me. I recall seeing him physically relax when "and children are starving in Africa" came out of my mouth. Recently, I was sharing my heart and mind with him while preparing a meal together. As I began to weep, he said, "How about you wait until your over your period before you decide anything." I just began laughing. I don't have to give the line anymore, in fact, he is giving me the reminder!
In 18 years of marriage, a lot has changed. We survived college together and then graduate school with a baby. He has been by my side for truly the most monumental moments of my life. Funerals, births, memorial, encounters with Christ, celebrations and defeats. I do not look like the young lady in our wedding photos, that dress does not fit me and I can't even guess that last time I wore a full face of make-up. But, as I wash dishes, he comes behind me and whispers, "You're beautiful." He knows what treat to buy me. He knows when to just listen, tease or to hug me. He prepares a plate of veggies for me and I prepare a plate of meat for him. After 18 years and 3 babies (and two teenagers and one young lady in our home) we are in a sweet spot. The getting to know you bumps and curves are over. The trying to figure out this parenting thing is getting easier and more often than not, we are on the same page. See, sweet spot.
Many of the teenagers we have worked with over the years are now adults. We chat about our marriages and the difficulties. I see folks getting divorced and even saw an advertisement making fun of marriage. Couples are choosing to just live together instead of marrying. They are giving up on marriage after starting or not starting at all. Marriage, is a journey.
The roads of Haiti are probably the best descriptors of marriage. Bumpy, rocky, steep hills, big holes, and unrecognizable at times. There are sweets spots along the way, fresh pavement here or there and even places where it is safe to pass. Stay on the journey! There are bumps, pot holes and puddles still but you learn to navigate those. Allow the Lord to grow you together with Him. You will reach your destination and there are plenty of sweet spots along the way. It takes time to get to the point where you can be saggy, stinky, and at our worse and still know you are loved.