I must say...I like marriage. Not so much because either of us are very good at it, but precisely because we are not. There is nothing more rigorous and difficult than learning to do something that you are not naturally good at. There are also very few things as satisfying as succeeding in things you find difficult. Finishing a course of study, running a distance race, climbing a mountain, scaling a rock, learning a language, or tackling a tough project are all accomplishments that derive their satisfaction from our recognition of their difficulty. I think marriage can be a lot like that. There are enough times where you feel like you could just crash and burn to make you enjoy the moments where you feel like you are flying.
I always try to avoid describing our relationship in overly flowery romantic tones. It's not because we don't love each other or feel immense passion for one another. We often do, but we often do not. As a society we have a great deal of fairy tales portraying ideal romanticism and the picture of happily ever after. I do not need to invent another one with our lives as the centerpiece.
The pictures and stories we embrace to describe our lives are important, and the picture of a fairy tale fails us when it comes to marriage. I have always loved Pilgrims Progress and its portrayal of life as a journey wrought with dangers and snares that would keep us from the joy of the Celestial City. Since marriage is such a significant part of life, the analogy serves us well here also. I often feel like Annie and I are on a journey. Signposts along the way point us in the direction of the joyful treasures of marriage. Without the signs, our untrained senses would most certainly leave us wrecked and without hope. We have, more often than we would like to admit, found ourselves with no motivation to continue except that we were convinced that quitting would be worse. The sign said joy was in this direction, so let's keep walking.
Over and over again we have walked from a difficult path into a new, wealthy place of renewal and joy. In the process, as time passes, we have looked over at our traveling companion and found a stronger and more faithful friend. These moments are a gracious gift from God. Because of these eight years, we are learning to love the good and to become the good that we love. Nothing could be better or more exciting than that and today I am grateful that Annie has chosen to continue walking at times when I didn't deserve a friend like her (a little something she learned from following Jesus).