Saturday, January 19, 2008

Submission to P31 Woman Magazine

*This is a sticky post for a weekend submission to P31 Woman. For weekend updates, see posts below.

No More Tears for Fears--Marriage as a Three-Cord Strand

On June 15, 1985, I was a college graduate of three weeks and a bride of 24 hours. I remember languishing poolside in Floridian bliss, humming along to Tears for Fears' Everybody Wants to Rule the World, while sipping a cold drink and exchanging smiles with my bridegroom. I didn't want to rule the world exactly, but I did have big plans for my new married life.

When I hear the song now, I smile at the irony of the first line: "Welcome to your life; there's no turning back ... ." At 22, what did I know about a commitment to care forever -- no turning back?

Occasionally, I wish I could return to June 14, 1985, and meet myself as a young bride at the back of the church. I'd whisper candidly to the young me about my expectations versus the reality of the years ahead. If you had asked me then if I understood the scope and weight of my vows, I would have said yes, but I didn't really.

Being in love didn't prepare me for those first grocery shopping ventures, when I plopped favorites into the cart and he promptly removed them. I didn't know that without due warning he would change my radio stations. Who knew we'd spend 22 years disagreeing about how to mow the lawn? And how could I have known that he had a sleeping disorder? Or (and this still puts a chill up my spine) that we would have kids with sleeping disorders?

I didn't understand that he couldn't be "everything" for me. After all, he was the love of my life, with emphasis on "my."

And that poor bridegroom -- he didn't know the half of his bride's self-centered capacities. He didn't know his fun-loving girlfriend would be so uptight about clothes on the floor and dust on ceiling fans. How could an affectionate girlfriend neglect to meet her husband when he walked through the door after work each night? And how did she manage to break so many things weekly? Imagine his confusion about a wife who six months into marriage began daily afternoon naps that merged into nights. Had he married a narcoleptic?

No, the power naps were due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy, and he would be a dad in only his second year of marriage.

Who knew?

God did. He knew we would go through seasons of joy alternated with frustration, depression, family deaths, disappointment in each other and in ourselves. But by the grace of God who remained faithful to us when our commitment lagged, and through the support of church family and friends, we stand together 22 years later.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken"(NIV).

Three strands: God, my husband, and me.

At times, the cord frayed, but it didn't break, because ultimately, we love God and value who we are as a couple and a family more than we love our individual selves-- not because we're noble or martyrs, but because God's spirit in us "grew" this counter-human commitment to something bigger than ourselves as individuals.

Based on statistics, it's a safe bet that without positioning our marriage and family on his principles and grace, we wouldn't be together today.

A line in the aforementioned songs says, "There's a room where the light won't find you/holding hands while the walls come tumbling down/When they do I'll be right behind you..." In the tropical sun of 1985, I wouldn't have believed that darkness could ever threaten us. But by banding together when darkness came and walls fell, we defended each other when one was weaker. And when we were both tired, our anchor strand was strong enough to get us through.

I am not as naive about life and expectations anymore. I do know that when my husband is pushed, I'll be right behind him, supporting him. When walls tumble, I'll be right beside him, holding his hand.

And even if I could time travel and enlighten myself about the triumphs and trials to come, I'd trust in the outstretched hand of my bridegroom at the altar, squish my puffy dress through the vestibule, and confidently meet him there -- no turning back.

Written by Linda Crow. Word Count: 716. Previously published in the Muncie Star Press, June 16, 2007. Permission granted to Proverbs 31 Ministries to use this article in the magazine P31 Woman and its promotion, as well as in other facets of Proverbs 31 Ministries, including radio programs and website.


BeverlyDru said...

Thank you for being so real and so truthful and expressing the triumphs and the tragedies better than I ever could. (Maybe someday... writing something that gets published by someone other than me is on my Bucket List.)

annie's eyes said...

Oh, had we known...I'd still marry the same man 27 years later, with eyes fully opened. But about 7 years in, I wasn't so sure. I'm so thankful to God we are a miracle of HIS faithfulness. Very touching article with precious insight to hang on to the fray of that cord. Very beautifully written...Continued marriage blessings, annie

Susanne said...

In tears here Linda. That was one of the most beautiful things I've read on marriage.

Heth said...

Wow, that was amazing. I love the line about your "anchor strand".

Sarah said...

I just love that. Thank you for such a beautiful post!

Debbie said...

Awesome! Sending to all my kids for them to read this one.

Cyndy said...

Mmmmm, thank you.

Shonda said...

Beautifully written. I like the part with the "emphasis on my" as I can relate to being so selfish in the marriage. But the Lord has been working that out of me. It takes God. Oh so well done.

Blessings in Christ-

Melissa said...

Your faith inspires me. So I read you. And now I tagged you (which might not have been a nice way to treat you). For details, check out my site.

Mary Lou said...

You said it all. I too married at twenty two, turned it after we married....I was so it is almost thiry nine years later and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat....It hasn't been a bed of roses, but with Christ at the head and the three fold cord holding us together...we've been blessed.....One thing that held me to the committment was that I always felt that the Lord meant for us to be together..We met on a blind date....We are such good friends now. I can not imagine my life here on earth without him, so I do NOT go there in my head at all. We also work together....have for almost sixteen years....and now we carpool together....God has been so good to us....and your words echo the feelings of my heart....Blessings on you...

Carol said...

Hi Linda,
Beautifully written and so encouraging and inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

William Welbes said...

Well said. There are Christian couples all over that are incorporating the Cord of Three Strands into their marriage in a very real and personal way at the Altar:

God's Knot - Cord of Three Strands

Greatfullivin said...

Linda, You do inspire! Your honesty and humor enlightens us all. I have a book on tying knots and it is funny...This most important KNOT has been left out. Thanks for sharing it.

marina said...

you dont know how may times I wish I could trun back the time and talk to myself at 21 when I got married .
Yes I was all those things you said you where.How time pass by so fast. I too can remember just sleepin and being sick with my daughter liitle did we know what was in store for us MotherHood,dinner planning,ect..I think we should teach young ladies what to except in there new walk of marriage ,, how to cook before they get married b/c I burn everything!!LOL marina
PS. linda did you get my eamil?

Lisa writes... said...

Beautifully written!

Ann said...

This was really good, Linda.

Fran said...

Golly...that was great! Ya know...part of my likes getting married early and being so naive...I was 24. I love the journey and discovery. Its plain hard and days you think..."who am I and who in the world is he?"

I couldn't imagine anyone else in my life. God strengthens us both daily and He sustains us.

This was sooooo good. I love everything you have to say.
Thanks for stopping by my blog too.
That dern cat is still my garage. What in the world do you do about a stray cat?!

Alana said...

Wow, that was an amazing testimony right there. I loved it! I was 21 when I got married, so I can certainly relate. Going on 12 years this June ;-)

Miss Sandy said...

You blessed my heart, now I am off to run to hubby and tell him how much I love him for putting up with me all these years and together we can thank God for being the third strand of our cord, the one that holds us together!

Miss Sandy

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Who knew?
God did.

Ok, that was right when I got all teary!

That was beautiful Linda. I have been saving it all wkend until I had a quiet moment to read it! And now everytime I hear Tears for Fears - which is actually a great title for marriage - I will think of you!

Elisa @ Extravagant Grace said...

What a tender and poignant article. Thanks so much for sharing!

sarah said...

How wonderful is that! I am going to the She Speaks Conference in the summer and working on bringing "Musings of a Housewife" with me. Hope to meet you there! We are coming from Philly.

Julie said...

Linda, The article is just beautiful. I will celebrate my 25th anniversary in March. I married 2 years before you. At 25 years old, I had this dream......of what my marriage would be. It wasn't long before the "dream" was shattered and reality set in. By the world's standards many would have told us to divorce, but God's kept our hearts together. Yes, our chord sometimes felt so frayed that I wonder if it would hold, but the chord in the middle, the one who binded us together in the first place, held strong. We are different people today due to what we weathered in our marriage.

On our 13th anniversary my husband had set things up for us to declare our promises to each other again. Some had been broken, we needed to remember and declare afresh. He bought new wedding bands (James Avery). They have Hebrew letters on them that say "I am my beloved's and she is mine." "I am my beloved's and He is mine".

I had no idea of what was waiting for me. We went out to dinner and he turned to me and said, "would you marry me?" With the realization of what he was asking me, knowing fully well what life was really like, I turned to him and said, "Yes, I would do it again." "I would marry you all over again." It was then he drove me to the "secret service" that waited, flowers set, pastor ready, children and parents looking on, I once again pledged my love to my man. We had weathered some harsh storms together. My eyes open wide to what life can bring, I told him yes, again.

He is the love of my life.

Thanks for sharing your story and congratulations.

Many blessings,

Anonymous said...

Yours is the best one I've read. In my opinion, yours needs to be published as 1st place :)

Wonderful writing. You created a picture in my mind. I saw it all. I will be back to visit your blog.

Carol said...

This was so beautiful! I loved it!

Jessica said...

this was wonderful, linda! it made me think of myself first married, my own lessons learned, and the God who holds my marriage in His hands...

thanks for the great encouragement-
and congratulations!