Thursday, October 5, 2017

"darling, darling, stand by me..."

"If the sky
that we look upon
should tumble and fall,
or the mountain should
crumble to the sea

I won't cry,
I won't cry,
no I won't shed a tear,
just as long as you
stand by me..."

I am stepping away from writing a message with a moral tonight. This post is simply a recognition -- and a thank you -- to my husband. Florence and the Machine's lush version of, "Stand by Me" -- beautifully captured in this Game of Thrones-themed music video -- says most perfectly what is in my heart.

Marriage is not always "white lace and promises, a kiss for luck and be on your way" -- to quote Karen and Richard Carpenter. At least it hasn't been for me. Marriage has been many things -- but rarely has it been a stroll through a field of wildflowers, or a day on the beach.

When Jeff and I married, we were both grown ups who had been married before.  We had five children between us to love and nurture. The oldest three were well on their way to becoming independent adults. The youngest two were still in grade school. The last twelve years have been devoted to making sure that our children felt loved, believed in, and supported.

The youngest are our twin daughters, and we have had the privilege of raising them with their dad and stepmom -- as well as their birth mother who was part of our parenting dream team. The girls have been our day-to-day (and night-to-night) focus for more than a decade. Jeff, has been their advocate, college finance advisor, car/truck/horse trailer problem solver, banking liaison, etc. since the day he became their stepdad.

He has been willing to take whatever work necessary -- in addition to his primary jobs -- in order to make ends meet. He is often up well past midnight -- even when he has to be up by 5:30 the next morning -- filling out FAFSA forms, writing emails to the college registrar's office, or just figuring out phone plans.  He takes every call they make to him - asking for advice about anything from how to check the oil in the truck, to where they should go for fixing a broken screen.  He is the silent hero in the background of their accomplishments and successes. I am in awe of his tireless care for them. Within our parenting team -- he is on point for every situation.

When difficult bumps in the road threaten to send us careening around an unexpected curve, through the guardrails, and flying off the edge - into a logistical or emotional ravine of self-doubt, lack, uncertainty, or fear, he is as steady as a rock. He quietly reminds me that we've seen harder times, faced worse criticism, and weathered greater storms -- and that we will get through the current one as well. We might get wet, but we'll be together, and together we'll expect "a bow of promise."

When I am trembling, he is rock solid. When I am frantic, he is unflinchingly calm. When I can't find my way out of the pit of despair, it is his hand that is exactly where I need it to be to pull me up. He is faithful, trusting, God-focused, and unmoved by earthquake, wind, or fire. His peace cannot be taken from him, and I count on his calm to remind me that God is with us -- we will not be afraid.

Someone recently asked me why, after the end of my previous marriage -- one that brought three beautiful children into my life -- I would re-marry. You know, it was not something I ever anticipated doing. But when your best friend wants to stand by you -- well, it wasn't much of a choice.

Like trees, our roots have become so entwined under the surface, that even though our closest friends and acquaintances rarely see us doing anything together, we are what stabilizes the other in every storm. We trust that we are each, always, reaching towards God first, and persistently digging deeper for a spiritual foundation in every situation.

Whereas I am a turtle and would rather do nothing, than tuck deeply into myself in a storm, he is an eagle that uses the storm's invisible thermals to rise higher in his understanding of God's ever-presence.  From that higher point of view, he gathers the bigger picture and brings it down to where I am - coaxing me out of my hermitage.

Recently, it was his strength of conviction - that we were going to be safe in the midst of a storm - which gave me the courage to love when I wanted to scream, cry, wail, and weep. It was his spiritual poise that calmed my own quaking.

In the chapter "Marriage" from her primary text, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy states -- with scientific certainty:

"The scientific morale
of marriage is spiritual unity."

I have seen this proven day-after-day in our marriage. When we unite in our love for God, and our love for others -- we are strong, unflinching, and resolute in our fearlessness.

Elsewhere in a collection of articles, sermons, and questions/answers titled, Miscellaneous Writings, Mary Baker Eddy asks, and answers, this question:

"What do you think of marriage?

That it is often convenient,
sometimes pleasant, and occasionally
a love affair. Marriage is
susceptible of many definitions.

It sometimes presents the most
wretched condition of human existence.
To be normal, it must be a union
of the affections that tends
to lift mortals higher."

I used to think that she was talking about different kinds of marriages. That some marriages were convenient, and others were pleasant, and yet others were a love affair.

That was until I was married myself. 

 Now I think she means that every marriage has moments when it may seem to look pleasant one second, and wretched the next. The genius of marriage is that it gives us ample opportunity for growth in grace, and and the same opportunity for monitoring our progress -- since we must do it over-and-over again, day-after-day, with the very same person.  As a scientist, it is this controlled environment - within the laboratory of our human experience - that allows for the most accurate assessment of change and growth. 

So tonight, I am writing to say thank you to the man who demands the best from me - by always bringing his best to the table. He would rather be kind than right. He is patient, tender and true. He is willing to go the extra mile for our daughters, and the people he works with. He holds uncomplaining guard over our family -- and the world.  It humbles me. His trust in the over-arching goodness of God's sovereignty is breath-taking. I am blessed.

offered with Love,


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