Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How Two Become One

"For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
And they twain shall be one flesh:
so then they are no more twain, but one flesh."
Mark 10:7,8

When Kevin asked me what I wanted for Christmas last year,
I told him I'd love to re-do our main bathroom.
For the past 11 years, 
it has been lavender, 
with a Thomas Kinkade border at the top.

It was pretty,
but I was ready for a change.

It's funny how your decorating taste evolves over time...
and what you were so over-the-moon for a few years ago,
kind of begins to wear on you,
and you find yourself seeking something a bit different.

my dear, sweet husband pulled off all of the old border,
and he and Zach painted the bathroom a warm, soothing deep tan color.
They did such a great job.
I love them both so much!

Today, Kevin and I put up a new border.
I love when we do projects together.
I cherish every second.
Pulling together to complete a shared endeavor
is very strengthening to a relationship.

This border is ultra-primitive
with the neatest sayings on it...

(don't you just LOVE that?)


There it is constant reminder.
In so many forms...
from so many directions...
His sweet voice calms me...
with these powerful eight words!

Now they are pasted on our bathroom wall....
along with...

Kevin bought me a new shower curtain and liner, too.
I chose black...
to bring out the black in the border
and because black and tan complement each other so well.

Funny, how something like this can just pick your spirits right up.
It didn't really cost all that much,
but the small changes completely "renovated" the look.
It doesn't look like the same room.

Each time I walk past it,
I peek in and read the border,
and I am encouraged...
to draw closer to the One Who made me.

I love having things around me that remind me of God.
Things that elevate my thoughts,
each time I look at them.

As I stooped to gather up the tatters and pieces of the
old border Kevin had removed,
my thoughts went back to the day they were applied
to these same walls.

"Your Mom put this border up for us."

I didn't remember that."
Kevin replied.

I remember the day she did it.
I think that is one thing that held me back...
from re-decorating for so long.
I felt bad undoing all of the sacrifice she had made
in doing something that meant so much to me.

Mom Smith loves doing things like that.
She loves decorating,
doing household projects,
and helping others do the same.

I wish she were as strong now as she was then.
If only her health and age could somehow be reversed...
to that day.
She could work circles around me.

I felt a twinge of sadness as I dropped the last shreds of border
into the open trash bag in my hand....
thinking of the beauty of the art it contained,
thinking of Mom's hard work,
and how quickly it was torn apart.

Then I thought of how we had enjoyed the fruits of her hard work
for over eleven years.
Her labor was not in vain.
The pretty cottages on the border comforted
and brought solace and a sense of serenity...
to us and to many guests through the years.

Thomas Kinkade's work always creates an atmosphere of peace.
His paintings take you away to another place...
another atmosphere...
where all is completely calm.

He had such a gift.
It is incredibly sad that the world will never know
what other wonders he would have bestowed
had he lived longer.
It seems his life was cut way too short.

For those of us still living,
life goes on.
Each day brings its unique changes.
Every year that passes finds us older
and in different phases of life.

I doubt if Mom Smith could decorate a bathroom now
like she decorated ours all those years ago.
Not that she doesn't still have the same capability and know-how.
In that department,
she hasn't slipped a bit.
And granted, she is still spry...
and extremely energetic...
for her age,
but life has changed for her in many ways.
She isn't as steady on her feet now.
She staggers.
I would be terrified for her to climb on a step stool
or try to reach over her head for an extended length of time.
Her days are spent differently now.
They are filled...
from morning to night...
 with caring for the man to whom she has been wed
for over half a century.
Today is their 53rd wedding anniversary.

He depends upon her a lot more these days.
For even the most basic of needs.
Things he could easily do on his own,
just a short time ago...
he now has to wait for her to do.

Sometimes I wonder how much longer
she will be able to maintain this pace...
to keep up with the progressively-increasing demands...
while dealing with her own steadily-declining health.

She wouldn't have it any other way.
She just lights up when she is serving others.
It is her nature...
to nurture the ones she loves.

But, I worry about her a lot.
I feel sad that we live so far apart,
and I am unable to do much to help.
I'd love to relieve her load,
to pay back just a small fraction of all
she has done for me through the years.

I have lost count of it all.
She has loved and cherished me
as a daughter....
from the very start.
I couldn't love her more.

As we thought of her and Dad Smith today,
Kevin told me he continually lives with the dread...
of losing them.

I know how he feels.

I told him I don't know whose shoes are harder to walk in.
or mine.

It is all behind me now.
Both parents are gone.
The dread of losing them,
going through the torture of saying good-bye,
has already come true.
I have already walked that path.
I can call them on the phone no longer.
Can't go to see them.
Will never make another memory with them...
at least not on this side of the grave.

Kevin, on the other hand,
still has the opportunity to call his parents every day.
We can still pack up and go visit them from time to time.
Lord willing, there are still memories to be made.
But, for how long?
He still has the dread of walking the path I've walked...
 hanging over his head...
every, single day.
He has to live each day with the anxiety and apprehension
of seeing Lori's phone number on our Caller ID,
picking up the phone,
and hearing distress in her voice.

So, which is worse?
Whose shoes are more uncomfortable to wear?

I really don't know.
I guess it is a matter of perspective.
Kevin said he thinks mine are.
I kind of wonder if maybe his are.
Either way,
it is a fact of life.
If we live long enough,
if our parents live long enough...
if life happens in the usual way...
if it follows the road most traveled...
we are all going to walk this same path.

In all honesty,
I am glad it is behind me,
instead of ahead of me.
Because, from my heart,
I don't think I could have gone through it again.
I'll never have to.

Both of my parents are resting...
safe and secure...
in the arms of Jesus.
Nothing alarms them now.
They don't cry....
or worry about us....
or live in any kind of fear.
They aren't alone.
They are surrounded by millions of the redeemed...
of all ages....
in the same place as Peter, and Paul, and Abraham....
and best of all,
They are at peace.
Satan can torment them no more.
No one can break in on them,
rob them,
distress them.
Their bodies have been laid to rest
in peaceful cemeteries....
surrounded by pretty trees
and singing birds.

This life is all over for them.
God called them home....
to live in a place...
a realm...
that is never-ending tranquility.

When I meet them up there, by God's grace,
we will part no more.
And though the pang of separation in this life
is near-unbearably painful,
I know, deep in my heart,
that this is only temporary.
One day, we will be together again.

What hope!
What joy!

I feel incredibly close to Kevin's parents.
We are a tight-knit family.
Always have been.
His parents and my parents were friends.
We have so many special, sweet memories.

So, I am dreading the moment of separation...
right along with Kevin.
It is going to hurt me beyond my ability to put into words
to watch him walk through the stages of grief
when he loses his parents.
I will be feeling it, too....
almost as keenly.

When you love someone,
it is just that way.
You feel what they feel.
You are right there...
in it...
with them.

Over the past two years or so,
Kevin and I have walked a very unfamiliar,
rocky path.
I thought we were close before we took that first step....
into this fiery furnace...of testing.
As I look at our relationship from today's angle,
I see a different "us"....
even closer...
our bond even stronger...
and more reinforced.
And, I can see that....
 just as pulling together to complete a shared endeavor
is very strengthening to a relationship...
pulling together to walk and live through a shared sorrow
is even more strengthening.
There is nothing in the world like shared suffering to draw two people
closer to Jesus....
and to each other.
We've stepped on the thorns strewn in our path...
Tears have been wrenched from our hearts...
and the four of our eyes...
at the same moments...
for the same reasons.
We've looked at each other time after time after time...
and discovered the same, exact reflection...
mirrored in the expression of the other.

He has held me close so many times...
I have held him.
God graciously allows one of us to be strongest,
when the other is at their lowest, weakest ebb....
to balance each other.
God ordained it that way.

He loved my parents...
as much as I love his.
It hurt him deeply to say good-bye.
Even deeper as he realized...
lived out...
the pain in my heart.

God willing, I will be there for him...
every step of grief...
when it comes time to tell his parents good-bye.

I hope it is no time soon.
I beg God every day to help them...
to leave them with us...
as long as possible.

Some days, I feel the dread with such force,
I feel I cannot bear it to be anytime soon.

God knows.

Whatever happens, by God's grace and mercy,
we will face it...

Jesus said in today's passage of Scripture that
two shall be one flesh...
that they will no longer be two...
but one flesh.

It seemed mysterious to me...
all those years ago...
when we started out.
I knew I would drop my last name
and take Kevin's,
I knew we would share the same bank account,
mortgage deed,
and physical intimacy.
Becoming one...
 made perfect sense....
in those kinds of ways.
But, how would we...
how could we...
 be one and same person?
How would we no longer be separate?
How would the two of us...
truly become one?

It is no mystery to me now....
all these years later.

The longer you share life with the same person,
the more "one" you become.

Emotions become more entwined.
Mindsets more unified.
The more you come to know someone,
the more they have invested in you.
And vice versa.
Each shared moment is another deposit into the investment.
It grows day by day,
year by year.
Each mingled tear,
every shared laugh,
the individual moments and events....
that make up this thing called married life.

There are so many benefits to sticking it out together....
to staying with the same person...
for a lifetime...
like God designed.

The history is just there...
You don't have to explain.
They've lived it...
walked it....
with you.

You can finish each other's sentences...
because you know each other's hearts...
so completely.

The other day, during a time of laughter and fun,
little Zach looked at Kevin and me and said,
"You know, all that we have been through
has really drawn us all closer, Mama and Daddy."

It touched my heart...
deep inside.

He sees it.
Feels it.
Senses it.

Our bond with this little fellow has deepened...
and strengthened...
just like the bond we share with each other has been reinforced.

As the sign on the new border in our bathroom says,

I realize that our lives are completely in His hands.
We don't know what tomorrow holds, 
but we absolutely know Who holds tomorrow....
and we know Who holds all three of our sometimes-trembling hands...
in His....

Through it all,
after all,
I have never loved Jesus...
or Kevin...
or Zachary...
more than I do right now.

Through the fire,
they have all become more beautiful...
more precious...
more dear...
to my heart.

"Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
We have already come;
'Tis grace that brought us safe thus far,
And grace 'twill lead us home."

A dear minister friend always says,
"God will take us through,
if we can stand the pull."

by and through God's amazing grace...
we'll make it through.

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