Our anniversary is coming up. We’ll be married 23 years. I was at lunch with a friend recently, discussing wedding anniversaries, and I recalled our 10th anniversary. Having never had a honeymoon, Rich and I left the kids with someone (grandma?), popped in our peanut-sized Ford Escort and headed west for 7-10 days. We saw the likes of Yellowstone Park, the Grand Tetons, ghost towns in Montana, etc. etc.
I’d like to say it was a lovely time…although it was our 10th wedding anniversary I wanted to be anywhere else with anyone else. No warm fuzzy feelings were surfacing, with no reason to cite. I was stuck with Rich for 7-10 days, just the two of us celebrating our 10th. Needless to say I tried, but it was borderline torture.
As I chatted with my friend about it, she asked how I got through. I relayed that I remembered from other relationships that feelings of love would leave, from time to time. For whatever reason, I wouldn’t feel love for a certain someone close to me for pockets of time, even long pockets of time. Those feelings would and did return, though…nothing would prompt them, that I recall, they just would return. Maybe I changed so that love had a way to get through, to surface…I don’t know. Anyway, that pulled me through at least a few times in our marriage.
I’m not sure this applied, though, to this trip, as my feelings were not non-existent or uninterested, they were angry and avoidant. I was miserable, utterly so. I think the only thing that got me through was commitment. I got to learn the meaning of commitment. Yeah, with vows in hand at the wedding ceremony we committed to one another for life, but this may have been the first ‘in your face’ time when I got to know commitment up close and friendly like. A word on paper smells different than the reality it represents, and only when I was tested did I learn what it meant.
It was a tough trip, but a memorable trip. One where choice was tested moment by moment–there was nothing to divert me from Rich’s presence, there was no running away or hiding. I got to turn to him and live my commitment to him, even though feelings of love had done a disappearing act, even though I would have rather been with absolutely anyone else, even though I had fear and anger surfacing.
I didn’t fake it, I didn’t pretend all was well. Rich knew I was struggling and we both somehow managed to travel 24/7 together anyway.
I won’t go into detail, but much came of the trip. Much came to light and a new beginning was spawned. Commitment provided space for painful truth to be addressed. Here we stand, 13 years later. Not the perfect couple, by anyone’s standards, but we’re here with no regrets.
I gaze at our marriage and then I gaze at my relationship with God. Commitment. Is it part of the equation? Oh, I know He’s perfectly committed to me, it is against His nature to be anything else. But me, am I committed to Him, truly committed to Him? Is it more than a word on a page? Is it real? Is it tested and true? Is it present regardless of my feelings, or lack thereof? Am I committed and real with what I do feel? Do I travel/dialogue with Him even when it hurts, even when I’m angry, even when I don’t want to be with Him, even when I want to be with anyone else?
Commitment–definitely one of those really big words that requires all that we have and everything we are. When we witness it, it takes our breath away…maybe because it echoes something divine: His commitment to us. It must be rooted in a kind of love not felt, in a kind of love maybe not even understood…..I think we all know when we’re operating solely out of its dictates–it ain’t pretty, but somehow I’m thinking it must, on some level, be beautiful…
(contemplative prayer update: ok, I’m sort of back on the bandwagon. I did pray a bit today and the sensation at the top of my head while praying seems to be back. Peaceful time, a time of lifting of the spirit. Maybe I can trust Him…)