Have you ever woken one morning in a daze, wondering what happened in your marriage? Something is different but it doesn’t have a name.
Or maybe it was a slow dawning realization that you and he have both changed. When did that happen? You didn’t see it coming.
Maybe you look at him across the kids’ heads, momentarily oblivious to the chatter and mealtime bickering, and notice lines on his face, gray in his hair. You hadn’t noticed before. Surprise flitters through your heart.
Time. It slowly etched its presence, creased its passing into your lives over the accumulated years. You recognize it for the first time or you see it anew.
“For better, for worse,” you said. But it doesn’t take long for worse to knock on your door. It’s not always a crisis, thankfully. Sometimes it’s just normal wear and tear, accumulated fatigue that dampens the spark.
Ten days ago the nation witnessed a remarkable moment at the beginning of the Super Bowl. The pre-game hoopla subsided and the coin toss was up. Newspapers had announced who had been chosen for that honor. My eyes scanned the large crowd at midfield; beefy players, striped refs, camera toting men and women, honored guests. I didn’t see him there.
Then the announcer said, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome some very special guests, President George Bush and Barbara Bush.” The crowd stood to its feet, clapped, and cheered. Our former president, wheelchair bound, was pushed out of the end zone, accompanied by the always pearl-clad Barbara in a cart at his side.
I cried. My husband even teared up, as did most everyone watching. I know because we were there. Tweets went out saying, “Why am I crying at the sight of this couple?”
I’ll tell you why.
The Bushes, imperfect as all of us are, are a model to our nation of unending love. Covenant keeping love. They remind us of what matters most in life. We see this so rarely in our world full of super stars and unending divorce drama.
Decades ago, Barbara Bush spoke to the graduating class of Wellesley college,
“As important as your obligations as a doctor, a lawyer, or a business leader may be, your human connections with spouses, children, friends, are the most important investment you will ever make. At the end of your life you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not losing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, a parent.”
For one brief moment, what matters most in life, in marriage, was center stage for millions around the world to see. We knew it. We felt it. And we cried because it’s what we all most desire in the depths of our souls.
George and Barbara Bush are at the end of their lives, still side by side. My guess is they have few, if any, regrets because they chose wisely.
What the former president and first lady displayed is available to all. It’s called choice. An unromantic, unpassionate, unpopular word; it’s the bedrock of what has kept them together for a remarkably long time: 72 years.
Jesus taught us this by His life. He always chose to do the will of the Father, telling us, “I do nothing on My own initiative. I always do the things that are pleasing to Him,” and “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments” (John 8:28-29, 14:15).
Love is a choice.
I am and always will be grateful that my insufficient love, my faltering attempts to give my husband what he needs, my failure to love well is not a terminal problem. My wonderful Father in heaven longs to give me what I don’t have on my own.
When I recognize what I lack and choose to go to the One source of love and pray, God supplies. Not always in feelings or romance, but He helps me love as needed in the moment.
A favorite author of mine wrote, “To love anyone is to hope in him always. From the moment we begin to judge anyone, to limit our confidence in him, from the moment at which we pigeonhole him, and so reduce him to that, we cease to love him, and he ceases to become better.” (Madeleine L’Engle)
May this prayer always be your prayer for as long as you both shall live! And may God grant you length of days and a lifetime of years, for His glory, that others may be inspired by your faithfully chosen love.
I need You.
My love is not enough.
Give me Your love
for my husband.