When I was home a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of borrowing my dad's spaceship car. Okay, it's a Toyota Prius, but it's very spaceshipey. I drove it the 7-minute ride to the beach for some solitary sun-bathing.
When I got there, I opened that little compartment between the driver's seat and passenger's seat to hide my cell phone when I spotted a slightly crumpled piece of paper that had my mother's handwriting on it. Nosey as I've ever been in my life, I picked it up and read the whole thing.
It was a love letter! From my mother! To my father!
The realization of what I held in my hands rendered me immobile for a short minute. It was a bit saucy, that letter, which both horrified and delighted me at the same time.
I put it away--exactly as I found it--and walked out onto the blinding sun and sand.
My parents have been married since 1982. That's 28 years of a variety in terms of good and bad. I'm not entirely sure they really knew each other when they got married, but I'm not entirely sure anyone does.
They definitely signed up for the black diamond of marriage slopes, moving all over the world with 2 little girls, following God's voice wherever they heard Him calling. I remember living in a tiny little Parisian apartment where the washer was stacked on the dryer in the kitchen and the carpet was so rough that I skinned my knees on it. Long distance calls to the USA cost big bucks if my Mom ever needed to talk to her mother about a how to be a good one on a bad day, and there was no e-mail. I'm sure my dad wondered more than once if he was doing right by his little family. He spent 8 years building a church out of nothing, and then watched it crumble from a hospital bed before feeling peace enough to move on. Those were hard times, and I don't remember much candlelight or romance when Mom had to leave our whining selves with friends to go to the hospital and sit through scary, foreign procedures in support of her husband. 'In sickness and in health' becomes less cliche when it's reality.
Life eased its burdens for a few years, but there were plenty more mountains for them to climb on little energy after we moved back to the states. I'm sure it would have been easier for either one of them to decide to go it alone after a while. I definitely did. I took off to Kansas City by myself when things were hard. But they didn't.
My world makes sense because my father loves my mother. It's the foundation on which I build everything else.
I know well enough that there have been several years in their 28 where they were married just because they were married. I heard some ugly fights from the inside of my bedroom door more than once, as every child in every family does.
Being a professional Christian doesn't mean you're not a human anymore, and there's nothing more exhausting or debilitating than trying to keep a perfection gloss on your life. We all gave up after a while.
Somehow, somehow, they made it to today together. They made it to three grown children and nearly 30 years and they're still writing love letters to each other, just like in the beginning.
I'm just so grateful.