Once upon a time, in a ninth grade english class in Nebraska, a mean and heartless teacher teased and mocked a short, blonde, fifteen year old boy until he finally talked to a tall, brunette, fifteen year old girl.They were both awkward in the way kids just out of middle school are. She was taller than him by at least 6 inches and outweighed him by 30 pounds. He still parted his golden locks on the side and combed it over and she hadn’t yet figured out how to tame her wild, frizzy hair. She’d yet to lose her “baby weight” and he’d yet to hit a growth spurt. Their sweet, simple relationship consisted of long phone calls and a date to the bowling alley.
One night, the pair were having a lovely conversation when the girl suggested going to a movie instead of bowling. Well, that was too much for him. “Who was this crazy girl I’ve been dating?” he wondered. “How dare she ask me to a movie!?”
After they hung up, he didn’t speak to her again for 3 years.
The girl was confused and sad. She didn’t know what she had done wrong. After weeks of tears, she decided it wasn’t meant to be. Years went by, and the two went on with their own lives, until one day, at the beginning of their senior year in high school, the boy realized the grave mistake he had made and finally worked up the nerve to ask her to homecoming. Miraculously, the girl had forgotten the past heartache he had inflicted and said yes. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Life has taken those two young kids places they never imagined. We’ve have been married now for 11 years and have 3 beautiful kids. In the beginning, life wasn’t exactly how we thought it would be. I think we were both a little shocked by what this thing called marriage actually was. It wasn’t all romantic weekends sipping wine evenings cuddled up on the couch. For one thing, I was pregnant and nauseous or nursing for the first 4 years of our marriage. For another, neither of us liked wine. (Fear not, I am a full-fledged wine lover now.)
We discovered marriage was more about the small, ordinary moments than the big, romantic events. We struggled and we fought a lot. I thought I should get to spend all the money I wanted. He thought that would be fine if we had any money to spend. He wished I would show more affection and I thought about how I would love to if I hadn’t just spent the day with 3 pairs of tiny hands ALL. OVER. ME. We got lost in the piles of baby toys and diapers and midnight feedings. But we hung on and we fought for each other, holding tight to those rare moments alone, working hard to grow roots and branches at the same time.
Marriage is hard. Young marriage is harder. Young marriage with young kids is harder still.
But, you know what? If I had to do it all over again, I’d do it all the same. I love this life that we’ve fought for. I have loved watching this boy I love so much grow up into a man. I love looking back at how foolish I was in so many ways and seeing him stick it out right next to me, I’m sure hoping I’d someday grow up just a little bit. I love knowing who he is now, who he was way back when, and all that’s happened in between.
This man, this marriage, is a not-so-ordinary-grace that I can’t stop reveling in.