Recently, Jeff and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary. On Facebook, I posted a video I had asked our daughter to put together a couple years ago which reflected so much of our past. But, as I watched it this year, it seemed incomplete to me. Oh, sure, there were the pictures of Jeff and me from our teen years; pictures of us dressed up so much we could have gone to a prom. (We never did though; that’s a long story for later.) Pictures of our honeymoon; pictures of Jeff, headed to the airport to leave me for nine long months to go to the Philippines with the USAF, after being married for just three weeks; pictures of our babies, from birth till now. And, all that caused a plethora of memories to rush in.
But honestly, it all looked a little fake to me – or maybe I should say, the premise of it all made us appear to be something that we aren’t. We aren’t “Perfect”! What you didn’t see in that video is the tears that have been cried over loved ones dying, infertility, the extended childhood illness we went through with our son, the learning disabilities, the financial infidelity, the rejection of our extended family, emotional infidelity, homelessness, joblessness, the harsh words said to each other, and the tender moments when forgiveness came. You didn’t see the 13 moves we made – in three states and two countries – and the 18-plus jobs Jeff had to support us.
The “perfect pictures” you see on the video aren’t what makes our life perfect. What does make our life perfect for me, is knowing that Jeffrey Miller knows the worst of me and still chooses to find the best in me. It is knowing that, no matter how aggravating I am to that man, I know he would give His life for me! It is the times we have stood together through the trials and prayed together. It is the times that we couldn’t stand to be in the same room with each other, but God’s grace brought us together once again.
See, the video, which makes our life appear perfect, is just a perception. If anyone had been a fly on the walls of our lives for the last 36 years, they would never say, “This is a ‘Perfect Couple!’” No, they would be scratching their heads, asking, “How did this young couple, who met at the ages of 13 and 16, even make it down the aisle, let alone still stand together 32 years later?”
But i am here to proclaim, it is simply by the grace of God! There is nothing good within either of us that deserves the grace that God has given us, let alone the grace we have received from each other. God’s faithfulness has completed us and, without that grace, we would not have had the stamina it has taken to stick out this life-long commitment we made some 32 years ago.
Were their times we wanted to quit? You bet! The odds were stacked against us, yet we still prevailed; not in ourselves, but in the strength of God. There were days when we could not have taken another step in this relationship if it wasn’t for the grace of God, carrying us through. But God directed our steps and saw us through. He is the One who gave us the strength to try it one more day.
In this day and age, when the sanctity of marriage is being attacked all around us, we must remember that the only way we can make it another 32 years is not in the strength that we have within ourselves, but it is only through the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ.
In our first 32 years of marriage, we have learned that love is not a feeling, but a choice; an action; a verb. It isn’t about what we feel, but it is about what we know and then, what we do!
Yes, love is a choice, and I am so glad that through it all, we made that choice! Even when it was a tough one! So don’t let the pretty pictures on Facebook deceive you. There isn’t a couple that has been married for very long that won’t tell you that they have all had their struggles and their trials. The only difference in the outcome is the choices they made.
So I encourage you: whatever issue you are having right now with the person you love, remember, “Love is a choice.” I will also give you some amazing advice that a good friend of mind gave me – after she had almost lost her marriage – when I was in the hardest part of our marriage, and was ready to walk out the door. She told me, “All I can tell you, Alesa, is this: If you will hang in there and not quit, it will be worth it – I promise!” She was right. It was those words that God used through her that encouraged me to stay one more day and is why we are where we are today.
So hang in there, don’t quit! I promise, “it will be worth it!!”