Posted in Thoughts

Remember

This weekend, we were in Ohio for a wedding and my mind always gets particularly nostalgic around marriage ceremonies. Every time I witness a couple exchange vows, committing to promises they don’t know how to keep, there’s a little bit of me that remembers how naive I was on my wedding day. As time distances me from that event back in 2008, I am increasingly aware of how much I could never have known. Because no one can possibly know prior to being married what it means to be married. We can read about it, we certainly can (and will) get advice, we can think things through and have head-knowledge about marriage, but unless we are married, we are not experiencing marriage. And I’m finding that the experience of marriage is very different from reading or knowing about it.

It is one thing to make a commitment blindly and realize later what that commitment means. I think we all have experienced that. It is quite another phenomenon to blindly commit, realize later what the commitment will cost you and still choose to commit.

At the wedding reception this weekend, the DJ orchestrated the “anniversary dance”. If you’re unfamiliar, this is where the DJ plays a slow song and invites all married couples to the dance floor, calling out number of years married to whittle the crowd down to the one couple that’s been married the longest. It’s a cute tradition, usually ending with an older duo who have a lot of years of marriage under their belt. This time, I was surprised with how many couples were still on the dance floor after 25 years and 30 years were called out. And when we were down to the bride and groom’s grandparents, each standing strong in 50+ years of marriage, I was inspired.

50 years: that’s a lifetime of recommitment.

25 years feels way off for Nayt & I. Though we just celebrated 8 years, and I’m sure the next 8 will feel just as fleeting, 25 years feels far away. But the commitment I feel toward my husband here in day 2,968 is astronomically different from where I was on day 1. What it means to be married has changed for me. It has required more of me than I ever thought. And I’m sure it will continue to require more and more. I am not prepared for what is coming.

We never can be.

But being in Ohio, where Nayt & I began dating, literally standing in places we went to as young, clueless twenty-somethings got me nostalgic. Amazing how memories can linger behind the peripherals, waiting…for something to trigger them–to bring them forward into your consciousness.

Sunday, we walked down some stairs at our old church and I was transported to June of 2006, a mere week before we began dating. My brain dusted off an old picture. And I clearly saw 23 year old Nayt, pressing his face between the bars that supported the hand-railing on those steps, and the look in his eyes. I had snapped a photo of that moment with my ancient flip phone. That photo is long gone, never to be recovered from that dead technology. But I hope my brain dusts off that image enough times to engrain it in my long-term memory. His face, with his eyes all brilliant blue, was telling me what he hadn’t yet said aloud, “I like you, Jes.”

And Monday, I visited Mt. Storm Park in Clifton, OH and sat in the sun at the pavilion pictured above. My mind recalled a similar warm day, way back on September 1st, 2007. I almost saw 24 year old Nayt come smiling out of some trees, dressed in his uncle’s old suit with a bouquet of flowers. He had created an elaborate scavenger hunt all over the city: places we had memorable dates and moments. It ended at this pavilion: The Temple of Love. (I still find this title as pretentious as I did back then.) I hope to never forget the look on his face, with his Tevas and suit and that bouquet of flowers, when he asked me to marry him.

Remembering matters.

What twenty-something Jes said, and did, and thought about twenty-something Nayt matters. It is our history. It is the root we grew from. Standing in places where we began matters. It reminds me why we began. And that really matters. And somehow the past recommits me to the future. Isn’t that strange? Memory is more than watching the past play out again. It can spark the present. It can inspire the now. It can create a strength that without history is not there.

Remembering matters.

And I’m finding that recalling these old memories is like pouring layers of wet concrete over an established foundation. Things are solidifying again and again over layers of commitment and history. And one day, maybe Nayt and I will be left dancing, 50 years in the future, with a giant concrete foundation of a marriage under our belts. Years of choosing to recommit in the face of new definitions of what it means to be married.

And to quote Over the Rhine, “I’m looking forward to looking back on this day.”

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Thoughts

Sabbath

As you may have noticed, it has been well over a week since I last wrote. Nayt was out of town for Gen Con in Indianapolis all last week, and I had grand plans for being a hermit and getting all kinds of things done around the house in his absence. But the Lord’s plans trump my human ones. 🙂 Instead, I felt compelled to say yes to MANY social invitations, including but not limited to: National Night Out BBQ on my block, tea date with a coworker friend, babysitting some hilarious and energy-ball children, a family dinner and my usual commitments like house church.

Yes, I am an extrovert in the true sense of the word: I gain energy from people interactions. BUT last week was too much even for me! Every time I felt God nudging me to say “yes!” to whatever He was inviting me to, I deliberately had to choose that yes. And as the week progressed, there was more internal whining before I would finally concede to His will. 🙂

When you are busy trying to do what Jesus is asking of you, time can FLY by. And because I am a fleshy girl who has to overcome her natural habits in order to love like Jesus, sometimes doing what He says takes a LOT of effort. By the end of the week, the idea of a Sabbath day was no longer an optional, Old Testament obsolete law I could choose to honor or not. Sabbath was required. Sabbath was necessary. Or I was gonna go into Monday with a less than holy attitude. 🙂 Sabbath or psychotic Jes would be unleashed.

So, I set aside Sunday to do nothing. I considered it “holy” (set apart) from my usual tasks. I was “off duty” from people interactions. I was “off duty” from obligation and work. I still listened to what God asked of me, but He knew I needed to do things that would bring me rest and life. And I dedicated the entire day to only doing what was restful and life-giving.

It’s amazing when you take 24 little hours and set them aside as time you won’t be “on”. I think a small, barely noticeable miracle happens: your body resets itself to peace mode. My body had been in “DO ALL THE THINGS!” mode for almost 144 hours (6 days). My brain literally needed to power down in order to restart. Ever feel that way?

How hard is it for you to actually take the time away from your normal? Let me tell you, it is NOT easy for me. If I am not hyper-intentional, I just forget to do it. Sunday, while I puttered around in my yard and made cards and took a walk and did Jes things, I had multiple thoughts. God is a brilliant God. We are finite beings. Unlike God, we have limited resources and a small storage unit of energy from which we draw. We need Sabbath.

And I’m so glad I took it.

Sabbath reminds me that I am human and cannot do all the things. That I never could do all the things. I was only deluding myself when I attempted to do all the things. Sabbath reminds me that slow is okay and even required. Sabbath reminds me that I depend on God in order to be at peace. Sabbath is time to stop actively trying to grow and let God do it. Sabbath is drowsy, soaked in the sun, just standing still. Sabbath is home. Sabbath is where I want to live all the time.

Monday morning, a coworker asked how my “hermit day” went. And I realized that I had reset, that my brain and body were at total peace, ready to say “yes!” again to whatever God asked. He worked that small miracle in me. He had used the Sabbath to refill my energy stores. And it was good.