A decade ago, this would have seemed unimaginable. But as my husband and I settled into our airplane seats earlier this month to begin our 25th wedding anniversary trip, it was all very real. I could sense God’s quiet, sweet voice: “This is your reward for not giving up and giving me time to work.”
God works exceedingly slow. But our trip back to the Pacific Northwest, where our marriage had essentially begun, symbolized that if we’re willing to endure through hard times, miracles can happen.
When my husband and I met, we were only 18 and broken. This brokenness, which had attracted us like magnets, likewise threatened our destruction many times.
Love was always there, but often hidden underneath layers of pain we were too afraid to face.
Bringing five children into our lives gave us a new and important focus, but also additional strain. In the end, though, I believe it was being forced to confront the demands of those children that most readily provided the openings for grace. Having to work together for their good ultimately caused us to drop our resentment toward one another long enough to pay attention to their needs. Selfishness began to fade, and our hurts, to slowly heal.
As we started viewing one another as helpmates, we found ourselves laughing again — in part because it was a better alternative than crying, but also because it felt good. Years ago, we’d stopped taking couple’s trips for family vacations. But something about reaching 25 years seemed important, so a trip fund was begun. It was a personal need, yes, but I felt that God wanted this for us, too.
Discovering again the Seattle area, as we had all those years ago together, then boarding a clipper boat bound for San Juan Island — on which we spotted seals, sea lions, porpoises and orcas in the wild — was sheer delight.
Experiencing our first forest zip-line tour, and cruising the island border in a little red scoot coupe, while inhaling the luscious scents of the ocean and cedar trees as wildflowers dazzled, proved luxurious.
But this trip was something else, too. It was God reminding us that what we experience in any hard moment is fleeting, and making a permanent decision based on a temporary situation can keep us from knowing life’s greatest pleasures. Like playing cribbage on a hotel patio, or visiting old and dear friends over a delicious meal of mussels and salmon…
…or holding hands on an airplane bound for the coast at age 48, with the guy you met at 18.
Life is messy, but with God’s help, the payoff is possible. And as we’ve discovered, it’s a wild ride worth sticking out to the end.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on Aug. 19, 2017.]