Friday, June 28, 2013

And They Lived Joyfully Ever After




Today marks my 11 year anniversary.  It was a hot, muggy, rainy June day.  I woke up in the morning, sat straight up in bed, and said, "Holy crap!  I'm getting married today!"  The entire day was surreal.  I remember ironing my getaway dress in my mom's living room.  I remember getting my hair done and bouncing in my seat.  I remember putting on lipstick and wiping it off because it was too red.  I remember packing my suitcase for my honey moon.

I remember getting ready in the preschool room at the church and sweltering, standing in front of a fan that was rotating back and forth, much like the scene in Runaway Bride.  Then we were standing outside taking our wedding pictures and it was overcast and super humid.  But Hubby looked so darn handsome in his suit that I hardly even noticed.

I remember walking down the aisle on my father's arm, looking at the people in the church, noticing friends that I hadn't seen in a while, feeling blessed that they were there to witness me marry the man I had loved since I was sixteen.  And then I had eyes only for my Hubby, standing there at the front of the church, with a smile a mile wide.  I wanted the moment to last forever...and I wanted it to hurry up and be done already so we could get to the "married" part.

I can't tell you what my Father-in-law said as he preached during our ceremony.  I remember Hubby saying his vows, slipping his ring on my finger.  I remember saying my own vows and giving Hubby his ring.  Then lighting a unity candle to symbolize our two lives becoming one.  And then we were kissing and we were married and we were walking back up the aisle together.

We danced, we ate, we hugged everyone, we laughed, we fed each other cake, and then we were on our way to the hotel before making our way to Cancun.  And then we lived happily ever after.  Because that's what married people do.

Right.

I was reading a book the other day that put marriage into perspective in a way I'd never thought of before.

"God doesn't care if you're happy, but He does care, very much, if you have joy.  Now some of you will say that the two are one and the same--happiness and joy--but this is not so.  Happiness is a feeling.  Happiness is fleeting, dependent on the moment, the circumstances, even the weather.  Joy is transcendent, enduring, and, in the biblical context, is not an emotion.  Joy is an attitude of the heart, Joy brings us peace, a refuge in the midst of troubles.  God gives us joy through His Spirit.  But the enemy tries to steal your joy and give you temporary happiness instead.  Now, is there anything wrong with happiness?  No, but it cannot last.  So, you may wonder why I bring up the difference between these two--it is simple really.  I bring it up to advise you, because marriage--in its true, everyday, working, living, dying state--is not easy and not much fun.  No, marriage is sacred before the Lord, a decision for a lifetime, but too often I think young people look upon it as a source of happiness.  Do not look at marriage this way.  See it as a reservoir of joy, a deep, welling spring that endures the icy blast of temper, the bite of an angry word, the void of loneliness in a heart hungry for talk when there is no response.  Seek joy in each other, not happiness." (Lilly's Wedding Quilt by Kelly Long)

When I got married, I had happiness in abundance.  My Hubby was the nicest, handsomest, most wonderful man on the planet.  And then real life set in.  Sometimes this man made me mad.  Sometimes he didn't want to talk about something that I wanted to discuss.  Sometimes he wanted to see a "guy" movie and I wanted to see a "chick flick."  Sometimes he forgot to take the trash out.  And then I started to feel unhappy.  And then I wondered, what the heck happened to my Happily Ever After??!

It took me a while to figure out the difference between happiness and joy.  In the beginning, I thought that if I wasn't happy, then Hubby wasn't doing something right.  (Poor Hubby)  But I've learned that like the quote above, happiness is fleeting and circumstantial.  It can't last.  And that is where I went wrong.  I thought happiness was the litmus test, the thing I was striving for.  I spent a lot of time chasing after "happy."  And I couldn't understand why I wasn't always happy.

But then God began to speak to my heart about Joy.  About finding Joy in all circumstances, rather than happiness.  Embracing Joy when things are going well.  About choosing Joy in the midst of illness, trials, difficulties.   Deciding to pursue Joy even when I didn't feel like it.  To discard the immature thought that happiness is the determining factor of a marriage done well and replace it with the truth that marriage is hard work and I won't always be happy.  But Joy will see me through every circumstance.  Happiness fades when the party's over.  Joy remains.

And so I set aside my childish dream to live Happily Ever After and replaced it with a dream that lasts--to live Joyfully Ever After.  I would say that Hubby and I do a pretty smashingly good job at that one.  (And yes, he still is the nicest, handsomest, most wonderful man on the planet, despite dragging me to see Star Trek)

1 comment:

  1. LOVE this blog, Lisa!!! Thank you for sharing!

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