Our Giant Love-ish Story
I love the whole concept of this blog, rebelling and replacing. So, as I was thinking of how I could take the many stories that fold together into our giant love-ish story, I realized there are several things we do in our marriage to, well, stay married. This idea that rebels are few sure seems to be the case with strong marriages today. Our culture actually encourages unfaithfulness, adultery, exchanging the old for the young, shopping around for someone more appealing. It’s just a big old moral-less, marriage-less world out there. I’m just a small-town girl from Iowa turned Texas momma of many who has been at this marriage thing for just shy of 20 years. There are several things my husband Rick and I do to rebel against a culture that says leave if you feel like it. We replace that idea with a commitment that says we’re in this even if we don’t feel like it. Here are some of the other ways we rebel and replace in our marriage:
We rebel against a society that says marriages fail. We replace that with a list of people, friends, mentors, and strangers whose marriages succeed, and we study them and feed ourselves with those examples.
We rebel against this thought that everything should be easy and smooth, and if it’s not, leave. We replace that with the reality that life is actually easy and hard and smooth and rough, and we stand with each other through those four and all the in-betweens.
We rebel against a culture that sees divorce as a solution. We replace that with the understanding that divorce isn’t an option, not a threat, not an out, not up for discussion unless abuse or adultery are involved.
We rebel against the idea that we have to get along all the time. We replace that with the expectation that we won’t get along all of the actual time.
We rebel against a mindset that says satisfy yourself; you’re your own priority. We replace that with the idea that our lives are about others; we can reach further together than we can apart. We see ourselves as a team not individual players.
We rebel against the lie that there’s somebody better. We replace that with the truth that we aren’t trading each other in. It just doesn’t get space in this marriage. It’s not about comparisons; it’s about edifying each other and being each other’s biggest fan. All of my unloveliness and all of his, those aren’t dealbreakers.
We rebel against loose boundaries when it comes to the opposite sex. We replace that with boundaries that say we value our marriage and respect our spouse and won’t be alone with the opposite sex. We simply refuse to put ourselves in any situation that could be tempting or could result in emotional attachments.
We rebel against putting our children first. We replace that with an insistence on dating each other and spending uninterrupted time away from the kids on a regular basis so we don’t miss each other entirely.
We rebel against a culture that says marriage is casual. We replace that with the belief that marriage is sacred and worth sticking out.
We rebel against the idea that being “in love” is a condition of marriage. We replace that with the realization that the kind of love that joins two people for the duration of their lives is so much more than that.
There are so many of our life-happenings I could share, but I’ll just start with how it all began. Somehow the little eight-year-old who thought it’d be cute to have a friend pin me down in the middle of our second grade classroom so he could plant a kiss on my lips also managed to plant a ring on my finger years later.
We were only married a few months before we agreed that this whole marriage thing might not have been well thought out after all. So, there we were, 20 years old, pretty rings and all, racing over a mile (and I do mean literal foot racing) to the campus library at UNI. The race was on: who would find the annulment law in Iowa first? Now that we had come to the realization that we were, in fact, two separate people (despite what our enamored, premarital selves may have believed), we were done. Or not. A week too late. Just like that, we stared at the computer screen, glanced at each other, and walked pathetically back home. (I’m literally rolling my eyes at our twenty-year-old baby selves.)
A year later, we decided since we had to stay together, we might as well run a homeless shelter and be useful. Isn’t it funny how that happens? All clueless and alone, our 21 year-old-selves unlocked the doors for strangers day after day, made sure everyone had food, and let all the guys stay up late in the main house to play cards with us. The rule of a two week maximum stay turned into a winter long stay for just about everybody, no hesitation. It was in that long stretch that I saw something in Rick that still peeks out at unexpected times. It’s carved deeply in my mind, and there are times I have to draw upon it, see it, actually feel it again. It’s the part of him that loves the unlovely. I can’t even tell you how many times I have been an ugly mess of a wife, and my heart goes back to that winter in that home with the ones who had nowhere else to go, and I see the man before me who has the capacity to love my unlovely.
Shortly after graduating, reality kicked in.
We got the news that babies just wouldn’t be a thing for us. For me, that meant the seven entire babies I warned Rick about having would be a whole lot closer to the three he imagined, only actually none. Kids, over.
Then there was the time that he got this job filling up vending machines in Dallas, the job that brought him home with a pocket torn right off his shirt and that look I never want to see again: held up with a gun. Job, over.
At the time, marriage wasn’t easy, and it sure didn’t feel smooth. Oh, and then there are the 500 actual other times, and I may need to add a whole thousand to that number, that weren’t easy or smooth either. This is the story. Our story. Our sometimes joy-filled and sometimes joy-buried story.
Because I’m now in the place where I can look back at those first years, I can trace the rough getting smoothed out. God did just that. Five times actually. I had baby number one just 19 months after the doctors confirmed it wasn’t likely. Then four more actual real-life babies; they just kept coming! Our “Kids, over” turned into a five-fold miracle.
Although our hard, harder, and hardest aren’t outlined here, the fact that we are here, together, writing our story is the clearest way to prove that we’ve done our share of rebelling throughout the years along with a whole lot of replacing. It’s been twenty whole years. Twenty years with another human, and I’m not sure if any of us really need an explanation of what that entails, but I will say, it’s a LOT. A lot of compromise, a lot of commitment, and a whole lot of crazy. We have to rebel. We have to replace. We have to consciously follow those commitments so we aren’t swayed by a culture that feeds any thirst. We choose our chaotically crazy child-filled married life. Over and over, we choose it.
Here’s to the those who rebel, though we may be few, we are fierce!
On an oily note, we rebel there, too. This is, after all, an oily blog ...with a sidetracked blogger. So, here are our some of our family's daily favorites: Orange Blossom Face Wash, every day, an oily skin drying delight for this Momma! Grapefruit lip balm, it’s basically out of my purse every hour on the hour. Shutran, I don’t know what it is, ladies, but something about that oil once you get it out of the actual bottle and soaked into your hubby’s skin, best cologne, ever! Orange, I let my littles bathe in it, well, not literally, but when they ask for oil, it’s the default. Thieves, everything thieves, all the time. Peppermint, deep relief, peppermint, deep relief, we might be addicted. Animal scent ointment is on our list lately because we have all sorts of patchy chappy parts between the seven of us. Here’s to you oily rebels, may you be blessed in every way!
CONTRIBUTED BY EMILY CHESSHIRE THOMPSON, REBEL ARTISAN AND YOUNG LIVING SENIOR STAR LEADER