all photos by hollykatephotography.com
“One good wish changes nothing. One good decision changes everything.” -anonymous
Forty years ago today, the husband and I stood together in front of the fireplace of our living room, and said “I do”. A small group of friends and family joined us that evening to witness two woefully unprepared souls coming together in the hopes of building a life that would endure. Who knew then, that it would mirror the name of my favorite ice-cream?
Yep. Rocky road.
Four decades down that road, this merged life has never been sweeter. Full disclosure: it’s often been more bitter than sweet. We’ve taken some pretty significant detours to get where we are today. Back roads which took us through infidelity, separation, divorce, addiction, re-marriage, rage, sorrow, hopelessness, futility and multiple mountain ranges of frustration. There have been hair-pin turns, comparable to the Amalfi Coast, where each curve left us gasping for breath, knowing one wrong move could plunge us over a cliff we might never come back from. There have been potholes the size of Montana and some ice that sent us spinning into guard rails. But, we are still standing on this side of those ledges.
I married an imperfect man and he married and imperfect woman. He thought he could control me and I thought I could save him. Obviously, we were both deluded. So we went over the cliff and called it quits. It was ugly. I moved cross-country, seeking a new life as far away as I could get from the old one. He stayed put, determined to salvage what was left of him. By the grace of God, we both survived our mostly self-inflicted injuries.
Then. one day, what had been legally pronounced dead, was resurrected. It was miraculous beyond anything we’d experienced, before or since. Twenty Six years ago, we stood in the garden of the same house and repeated vows much like those spoken forty years back. We began the long journey to rebuild what had ostensibly been destroyed. It sounds like a fairy tale, but there was no “happily ever after” in the immediate future.
It has, in fact, been the greatest undertaking of our lives. We have struggled to know and understand each other. We have failed to fight fairly. We have been selfish and angry and struggled with bitterness and hopelessness. We have forgiven offenses, large and small. We have yelled and cried (mostly me) and have been silent for inordinate amounts of time(mostly him). We have teetered on the edge of giving up. But, mercifully, we did not give in to that temptation. We have stood firm, believing the miracle that brought us back together would hold us together. And, it has.
We made a decision and we have stood by it. Through all the heartache, tears, grief, arguments, misunderstandings, lack of communication and sorrows, we have slogged through them all. Because, we made a decision. The miracle of reconciliation. The miracle of forgiveness. The miracle of life made new. The miracle of redemption and grace. We have learned a lot about patience and endurance. We have pressed in and through, knowing there was something worth all the effort on the other side. We have worked hard when it would have been easier to give up and walk away.
We are slow learners, for sure. We took the long and winding road to get here, without question. But we are here and we are standing. Through wind and rain and sleet and snow, (what are we, postal employees?) we have endured. And we are grateful beyond imagining.
What if we had ignored the miracle? Common sense told us that to reconcile was folly. Many loved ones called us crazy. We were still two dramatically different people who seemed to be traveling in opposing directions. But we chose to move forward, a little older and a little wiser, knowing it would not be easy. We counted the cost and decided it was risk worth taking, and so we dove in. We have weathered many storms to get here. We are both older, wear a few extra pounds and have a few more wrinkles and rolls, but, we are still together, stronger and more in love than we ever thought possible.
We made a decision. The conviction that it was a wise and worthy decision, has held us all these years. We are still held by it. We rest in it. We rejoice in it.
“The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the Everlasting Arms.” -Deuteronomy 33:27