Today, I have been married to my best friend for 13 years.
And as you read that sentence, I’ll bet that you were thinking this would be a post on us. Our wedding day, a tribute to him and all that we’ve been through in those 13 years. Well, you’d be wrong. Sort of.
This post is about the people that showed me what a marriage should look like, and how I want mine to look in 50 or so years – my grandparents. I know it seems strange, to write a post about someone else on my own wedding anniversary. But believe me, the person that I’m celebrating my love for today….he understands.
I vaguely remember my grandmother telling me once about when they were married. She was 17 years old. He was 13 years older. She sat on the fence post, waiting on him to pick her up. He picked her up on the back of his horse, and they went off to get married. On December 12, 2005, the day he died, they’d been married 58 years.
I don’t know the specifics about their wedding day, their early years of marriage, their parenting styles and trials, or even the specific struggles that they encountered in married life. I’m sure they had arguments, differences of opinion, problems of their own. I don’t know about these things, because they never let us see them. I could be totally wrong & off-base with my description of them….but I don’t think so. Because what I do know is what I saw in their marriage, over the 23 years I witnessed them together before he passed away. What I do know is the lasting example that they left for my own marriage.
In Proverbs 31, there is a description of the Virtuous Wife. The scripture says that the heart of her husband safely trusts her. She does her husband good and not evil all the days of her life. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. As I read these descriptors (these are just a few), I couldn’t help but think of her.
She loved my grandfather like no one else. A kind of love that’s rare nowdays. She loved us all, and would have done anything on earth for us…as I’m sure most grandmothers would. But her! My grandmother served her husband like no other woman I’ve ever known. I hadn’t really thought about this until recently. The things…little things…that so many of us women grumble & complain about doing for our familes, our husbands, she did so willingly.
She rose early every single day to make sure he had all that he needed for his day. She made sure he had breakfast on the table. And lunch. And dinner. Every day. Clean, ironed clothes to wear. She managed the household, paid the bills, ran the errands. She measured out his two scoops of vanilla ice cream, and split his Coca-Cola with him because a whole can was too much. She watched wrestling, and baseball…oh, the baseball…every.single.day. Not because she liked it – she didn’t – but because he did. I never even realized how much she really didn’t care for it until after he was gone. She never complained. If you happened to be over while he was taking his bath in the afternoon time, you’d probably even hear him call for her to come rinse out his hair. Now, I know that may seem a little over-the-top to some people. But really, isn’t that what God calls us to do? Love, and serve, and help, without the grumbling, or complaining, or self-seeking. As I’m writing this even, I’m thinking of just how much I pale in comparison to the wife she was.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” -Ephesians 5:22-24
She epitomized this. She submitted to him. I know, I know. This is such a controversial topic these days. But I just feel that if you could’ve seen her submit to him, you’d understand how God meant for this to be done.
He was never overbearing, or harsh, or mean. He was never loud or demanding. My grandfather was such a gentle man when it came to her. For the most part, at least from what I always saw, she did as he asked. He made it easy, I’m sure, for her to submit to him. For her to follow his lead, want to be with him and around him, move and conform to his ways. Because his ways always had her in mind.
They had such a love for each other. If she occasionally did go into the “back room” to watch her TV shows, it wouldn’t be long before one of them was asking the other to join. She watched him carefully from the kitchen window as he fished on the pond. They rode to job sites listening to Kenny Rogers, just to pass time and be with each other. They just truly enjoyed each other. You could see their love in each others’ eyes. He called her Mama, she called him Daddy. Neither one of them measured over 5 feet tall, but their love could’ve consumed the biggest person you know.
“So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” -Ephesians 5:28-31
And he loved her. Completely, and perfectly, and effortlessly. Actually, I can’t even describe the love he showed toward her as effortless, because it was even more than that. I don’t even know a word for it. It was natural, an after-thought. He just loved her, plain and simply. It was so obvious. He gave of himself freely to her. What was his, was hers. They shared everything. They did everything with the other in mind. They were one.
When people talk about marriage these days, these verses are used almost as if they are ugly words. But if y’all could’ve seen this lived in person….oh, how I wish you could’ve seen this lived in person….you’d “get it”.
Now, I don’t know how much my grandfather actually based his marriage on these verses specifically. My grandfather quit school when he was very, very young to help support his large family, and thus couldn’t read much. But regardless of whether or not he actually knew these verses…he lived them.
A few days ago, the Lord gave me a sentence that I felt was specifically intended for this post. I didn’t really understand how it was supposed to fit in until today. Wives, the Lord calls us to love our husbands like this because that’s how He first loved us!
And then, today, our pastor preached briefly on submission during his sermon. He explained that the word sub- means beneath, and mission- means assignment. So, if we as husbands and wives…and even simply as people…are practicing submission, we are surrendered to His assignment. Husbands are called to be submitted to Gods’ assignment, and wives to their husbands. It is the foundation of marriage.
In fact, we were saved by submission. Saved from our sin! Not MY will, THY will be done. Jesus prayed this as He was dying on the cross. Our Heavenly Father loved us enough to send His Son to die for us — the same Son who loved us enough to submit to His Father’s will, even to the point of death! He rested in His foundation and the power of His Father. And that same God that He rested in, raised Him from the dead!
Friends, we have to make God the foundation of our marriages. HE is the base. Husbands, seek him and rest in Him. He alone will give you the strength and provision you need for your family. Wives, you can then submit to your husbands, knowing that he is planted firmly in a foundation of the Lord. He will love you with completeness, and gentleness, and love…just as Pop loved Memaw…because God will show him how.
It’s been a lot of years now since I’ve seen their love in person. It’s easy to forget. Hard to remember. But, even as I write this, it’s something that I know I have to strive to remind myself regularly. Daily. It is the success of a marriage. It is the key. We are taught that God has given us all the answers in His word. So, why not marriage? Just because they sound old-fashioned & hard to live by? If you could’ve only seen how easy they made it look.
My husband & I got away together this weekend. We were able to talk, reminisce, and think about the future. We talked about what we want for our family. We talked about how we want to raise our boys. And we talked about this set of grandparents, and their marriage…and how, even though they’ve been gone a while now, we still want what they had.
So, today, on my 13th wedding anniversary, I’m not going to write some fluffy piece about how great my marriage is & how much trial we’ve overcome. Although those things are both true, I want to honor the marriage that made us want ours to be better. I honor their marriage today because it was what marriage should be.
Today, I will promise to love more like them. Live more like them. Do marriage more like them. And, in turn, more like God wants me to love, live, and do marriage. Because, honestly, I think they had it pretty darn close to right. Will you join me, friends?
And honey, to the most challenging, yet rewarding, 13 years I could’ve imagined….it’s been real, and tough, and exciting, and fun. But, most of all, it’s been with you. And that’s what makes it best.
Every day…but especially today…I love you more than most.