Ode to a Naive Bride, June 14, 1985
On June 15, 1985, I was a college graduate of three weeks and a bride of 24 hours. I remember languishing poolside in Floridian bliss, humming along to the popular song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” sipping a cold drink and exchanging smiles with my groom. I didn’t want to rule the world exactly, but I did have big plans for my new married life.
When I hear the song now, I smile at the irony of the first line: “Welcome to your life; there’s no turning back ….” At 22, what did I know about a commitment to care forever—no turning back?
Occasionally, I wish I could return to June 14, 1985, and meet myself as a young bride at the back of the church. I’d whisper candidly to the young me about my expectations vs. the reality of the years ahead. If you had asked me then if I understood the scope and weight of my vows, I would have said yes, but I didn’t really.
Being in love didn’t prepare me for those first grocery shopping ventures when I plopped favorites into the cart, and he promptly removed them. I didn’t know that without due warning he would change my radio stations. Who knew we’d spend 22 years disagreeing about how to mow the lawn? And how could I have known that he had a sleeping disorder? Or (and this still puts a chill up my spine) that we would have kids with sleeping disorders? I didn’t understand that he couldn’t be “everything” for me. After all, he was the love of my life, with emphasis on “my.”
And that poor groom--he didn’t know the half of his bride’s self-centered capacities. He didn’t know his fun-loving girlfriend would be so uptight about clothes on the floor and dust on ceiling fans. How could an affectionate girlfriend neglect to meet her husband when he walked through the door after work each night? And how did she manage to break so many things weekly? Imagine his confusion about a wife who six months into marriage began daily afternoon naps that merged into nights. Had he married a narcoleptic? No, the power naps were due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy, and he would be a dad in only his second year of marriage.
God did. He knew we would go through seasons of joy alternated with frustration, depression, family deaths, disappointment in each other and in ourselves. But by the grace of God who remained faithful to us when our commitment has lagged, and through the support of church family and friends, we stand together twenty-two years later.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Three strands: God, my husband, and me.
At times, the cord frayed but didn’t break, because ultimately, we love God and value who we are as a couple and a family more than we love our individual selves. Not because we’re noble or martyrs but because God’s spirit in us “grew” this counter-human commitment to something bigger than ourselves as individuals. Based on statistics, it’s a safe bet that without positioning our marriage and family on his principles and grace, we wouldn’t be together today.
A line in the aforementioned songs says, “There’s a room where the light won’t find you/holding hands while the walls come tumbling down/When they do I’ll be right behind you ….” In the tropical sun of 1985, I wouldn’t have believed that darkness could ever threaten us. But by banding together when it came and walls fell, we defended each other when one was weaker. And when we were both tired, our anchor strand was strong enough to get us through.
I am not as naïve about life and expectations anymore. I do know that when my husband is pushed, I’ll be right behind him, supporting him. When walls tumble, I’ll be right beside him holding his hand.
And even if I could time travel and enlighten myself about the triumphs and trials to come, I’d trust in the outstretched hand of my groom at the altar, squish my puffy dress through the vestibule, and confidently meet him there—no turning back.
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