There's a "For Sale" sign in front of my house.
In front of my first home. The first time I walked through the rooms and the hall, I had an engagement ring on my finger and I was never so excited to scrub out cabinets and a stove and a refrigerator. It was going to be ours. It was May and come October I would live here, with him, and we would be a family.
Him and me. A new family. Our own family.
We've been living in a small town in Southern Indiana, nestled neatly twenty miles or so from my parents and the town I was born and raised in. I've never lived further than an hour and a half from my family and even then, I returned every weekend. We're a close family and have always lived close. My husband is from Northern Indiana originally, but even though he has always wanted to move back to his own familiar turf, family, friends and hunting grounds, he surmised that he fell in love with and married a girl from the south end of the State and so that's where we'd stay. Love never wants to pull you away from whom and what you love and know.
Love always wants your happiness more.
When we get married, we promise all these things. We promise to forsake all others, for instance. And typically you may think that forsaking has to do with turning away from those who would try to come between you and your spouse, maybe for a night. You make a commitment to love one person, to be faithful, to not go down that road. But what happens when the "forsaking all others" has to do with holding tight to the hand that you pledged to hang onto until breath leaves you... and go with them?
We also promise and believe in things like believing in the dreams of the person we love. We want all of their hopes and wishes to come true. We love them so much that we'd do anything to insure that their desires for life come true. Loving someone has so much to do with anything that maybe I thought it had to do with in the very beginning.
And here we are... hedging into our fourth year of marriage and mere weeks away from welcoming our second son into this world. And did I mention the "For Sale" sign in the front lawn? We're looking for houses and having strangers move through ours. An opportunity that was unplanned and unimagined presented itself and we weighed the pros and cons, talking late into the night, debating, weighing, prioritizing... and then it came down to that one decision: Do we go or do we stay?
Popular reality shows seem to like to have hopefully-falling-in-love couples jump off cliffs together or rappel down the face of a stone wall. And they all say things like, "If we can do this together, we can do anything!" Somehow bungee jumping into an abyss prepares you for all the challenges life has to offer. It's kind of funny, because how many times do you jump off of anything together? And yet, maybe that's it... maybe sometimes we need to.
"You and me together,
we could do
anything, baby, yes, yes..."
~ D a v e M a t t h e w s B a n d
Maybe sometimes it needs to be just the two of you, standing hand in hand, looking into the face of something deep and dark and unknown and you say, "You know what, let's just try this. I'm with you, you're with me." It's more than having love on your side and hearts in your eyes. It's about commitment. Standing tall even when you want to crumble. Putting on the safety helmets and learning the ropes and going for it. And it's not just the initial jump you have to get through - it's what happens after. When your feet touch earth, again or you plummet into water... Then what? Where do you go after you leap? And is the hand you're holding enough of a reason to stay? To depend on?
What I have learned so far in this new journey for us is that I really, really love my husband. It's not that I didn't already know that, but I don't think I realized how powerfully I love him. When I say I want his happiness and his dreams to come true, I mean it. And it doesn't mean that I disregard my own wishes or hopes, but the truth of the matter is that the more I love him the more his joy matters to me than my own. And I know that the more he loves me, the more my joy matters to him. It's why we spent so many nights hashing this thing out and weighing pros and cons until we wanted to hand it all to someone else to make the decision for us.
But it was our decision to make and we had to make it. Together. And when one opportunity was refused, I actually sat in our living room and cried. I wanted it so badly for him and by that time, I had come to want it for our family, too. A move that initially was an, "I'll go if we have to - if that's what you feel is best for us.", a submissive kind of response and good, turned into something deep and personal that made me want what he wanted because of how I love this guy. It was baffling how I had gone from being open to change, to wanting it so personally and deeply that I would sit on the couch and cry when the door closed tight.
And then in something that seems so like God... here's that cliche about one door closing and a window being flung open... there was something else. Something bright and possible and blessed. And then it was even more serious than it was the first time. Do we really, really want to jump? Do I want this as much for me, genuinely, as I do for him? What about what we have to give up? What about what we gain? What about moving right now and trying to sell our house and gearing up to have another baby? Are we out of our minds?
The assurance says, "No." We're not crazy, we're not drowning. We're stronger than ever and more peaceful than ever. There has been more change in the past few weeks than there has been in the entire time we've been together. We're selling a house and looking at buying a house and preparing to move as soon as baby arrives and I'm going to have a toddler and a newborn and I don't even know how to get to the grocery store right now and we don't have doctors lined up and the list can go on and on. And it could make me too terrified to budge.
But love? Love makes me shrug my shoulders and smile and say, "Let's just go."
He never asked me to do this for him. He never asked me to sacrifice what is familiar and comfortable for me and to embrace change for him. But what he did ask me was if I'd be his wife. He promised to cherish me and to look out for me and to provide for me. And I promised to care for him in all aspects of life and to go where he goes. When I was standing up there in that white dress, maybe I didn't really think I'd have to go anywhere. But that doesn't change the fact that I promised and that I loved him enough to do just that.
For kicks, I pulled down a box of keepsakes from our wedding and dug around until I found the small book that my Pastor and his wife had so cleverly made for us, including every aspect and word from our wedding ceremony. Tears burned my eyes tonight as I read what I had been charged with on that gorgeous day in October...
"Laura, as you seek to take this man
as your husband, you must always
remember that as his wife it is your duty
to love him, respect him,
and follow him,
finding your joy in him as the Church does
her savior, Jesus Christ. It is you who shall
create and sustain a healthy,
happy home, so that you both may have
a haven in which to retreat and grow as one,
undivided by the hands of men..."
And so we're moving. And while we're not moving to the other side of the world, we won't be just up the road anymore. The changes that all that implies is inevitable. But in all of this, I am finding not only a tremendous peace and joy about the next pages of our story together... but I am blown away by the blessing of loving and being loved. I feel so secure.
I sense so much new growth and maturity in us as a husband and a wife just by standing on the edge and saying we'd go ahead and give this a shot. We're doing something big with each other, for each other. When we exchanged rings and words and I traded my name of almost twenty-eight years for his, I swore I'd go wherever he went and stay wherever he stayed and sleep wherever he sleeps.
This is really not anything so crazy or shocking. It's something I already said I'd do.
"If you're asking if
I love you
this much... I do."
~ M a r k W i l l s