I told a group of college students the other day that in March my wife and I would be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary.
They looked back at me with faces painted with awe and disbelief. Some of their faces said, “Wow! He is REALLY old!” Other faces seemed to wonder how a relationship could actually last that long. There certainly aren’t many examples.
My heart grinned as I gazed on their looks. It was the same look I had on my face when I was a college student and someone said they had been married 50 years. Back then, people did not often live long enough for a marriage to celebrate 50 years. Today, most marriages do not last long enough to reach 50. That is how things have changed in our lifetimes; yesterday’s 50 is today’s 25.
We all know the divorce statistics. Most marriages simply do not endure.
This marriage that has lasted 25 years is the second marriage for both of us. We are painfully aware that love does not always endure. Sometimes death snatches a spouse away leaving behind unfulfilled dreams, the mortgage for a house and two hungry mouths to feed. It leaves with questions of why, of empty hearts and arms and of a hauntingly hollow existence.
Sometimes sin lures a spouse away. Bad choices make for bad paths; closed eyes inevitably become closed hearts. The fierce flames of divorce ravage the house of love leaving scattered debris and scarred hearts. Amidst the charred frames and damaged rubble are left shreds of insecurity, questions of adequacy, fears to ever want to build again.
Twenty-five years ago I was blessed to find an enduring love that is tender. It can be seen as she looks in the beaming eyes of her grandchild. It is evident when she stoops to look eyeball to eyeball with her first grade students. It is on display when she still grimaces at my humor, grins at our dreams, smiles at the lives of her children, laughs at the good times that have been shared.
Twenty-five years ago I was blessed to find an enduring love that is gritty with commitment. When family relationships were stretched, her love became elastic to bend and maneuver; fluid when absolutely necessary. When material wealth and possessions seemed fleeting, she anchored her love in things that would not move. When life’s mountains seemed to crumble, she rebuilt her foundations on sand that did not shift. When the journey’s path was smooth and lined with roses, she humbly gave thanks to a God whose wind always remained gently at her back.
Twenty-five years ago I was blessed to find an enduring tapestry of love. Woven into her very fabric are filaments of faithfulness, patterns of passion and perseverance, strands of strength. Her love is threaded through her every touch, each word; it is entwined in every trial, each moment of hope.
This love of another kind that we have been talking about is a love that doesn’t give up. It is a love that finds a way over, or around, or under, or through the walls that life thrusts upon us.
It is a love that endures all things, believes all things, hopes all things. It is a love that doesn’t go away because of inconvenience. It doesn’t go looking for better opportunities. It cannot fathom a time when it is over; it fights like Rocky to survive. In my life, it is a rock that has “Beth” etched upon it.
Maybe we needed more examples. Maybe we need to be one.
— Tom May is the Minister of Discipleship at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville. He is an adjunct instructor in the Communications Department at Indiana University Southeast.