A Married Man's Thoughts, 1 Year: Outposts

You're wondering how our first year of marriage went.

We have arrived, and we have wondered if we're too far gone. Sometimes this happens in the same week.

We've learned some sick moves in this dance of oneness, and we've also taken waaaaay too long figuring out where to eat. (So much waffling.)

We have felt so mature that the skeptical world can screw off, and we've sat in feverish silence, wondering if we got married too early. Sometimes this happens in the same car ride.

We've had a bat fly in our bedroom. That's true, and it deserves its own paragraph, because (kasey had to chase it out the window with frozen pizza cardboard) I had to barehand it to release it back into the wild.

We've laughed 'til our bellies hurt with friends we love dearly, and we've wondered if paying an electric bill means you should buckle down and try not to exceed the fun quota.

We have felt each other become furniture, so common you forget to acknowledge them. I have also felt her presence fill an entire room, her beauty so unavoidable because I have seen it at 6:30 am with bedhead and bad breath and it's still magnificent.

We've felt emotions, a few we'd never felt and lots we'd never felt so deeply.

You might not even know me, you Facebook weirdo, though we probably met at one point or another. Either way, you are here, peering in with vague curiosity through this virtual window of my life and alive today in a society where this marriage has a coin flip's chance at surviving and even worse odds at genuinely thriving.

Frederick Buechner says the beginning of a sermon is odd because everybody is listening, secretly waiting for words to give birth to hope. I think you could also say something like that about the beginning of a marriage.

Every wedding day comes packaged with happy tears. Hopeful tears, even, for something so apparently true & beautiful has been born into a world that can seem so apparently chaotic & ugly. If just this one lovely thing could be born, couldn't something grander & lovelier sweep my life up into itself? The whole world? Might this flicker of light swallow darkness whole, or at least point to something that will?

And, just so, every divorce is packaged with inconsolable tears. Hopeless tears, even, for not only has an entire social structure been torn apart: it is hope of redemption made barren, evidence of a tattered world dropped into our living rooms. For if this union I thought so lovely has died, how isn't every lovely thing just morning fog about to burn up? With every divorce a little part of us joins the twelve disciples, shocked by Friday, cowering behind a locked door on Saturday and scarcely expecting anything like Resurrection Sunday.

So let's be honest for a moment: we look at posts with titles like these, and we are vaguely drawn to it. What if it's more than just boredom that we look? What if I represent something a bit deeper than just an old friend? What if we secretly want proof of resurrection?

The early Christians believed that Jesus' resurrection was just the beginning of a world that would one day be completely resurrected and restored. In between the first and final resurrection, Jesus' followers were outposts, or pictures of the good kingdom that God would one day establish on earth.

It feels more real to me in story terms. This entire world is just composed of a bunch of stories. Some have long since resolved and others are just waiting for the inciting incident, though most of the stories we care about are stuck in the tension-filled middle.

The honeymoon is almost always happy and void of much conflict, like Huck Finn before he meets Jim, Mowgli before Shere Khan threatens to kill him, Bruce Wayne before his parents are killed.

But the pl0t thickens. Unloveliness is revealed, and life is found wanting; or, if you like, the 21-year olds discover how hard it is to think for another person, or how to be responsible and try to keep a child's delight, or to be a tree under which sun-scorched souls can find shade & a cold glass of OJ.

Will our story last?

Perhaps our story is redeemed. It will need to be redeemed again, every day and every season, as the action rises, the cold wars lengthen and the characters deepen.

On our wedding day, there were tears. Hopeful tears, even, for something lovely had been born. But we aren't naive. If the road bursts with light and chickadee songs now as our second year begins, it'll be dark and breathless soon enough, our own valley of the shadow of divorce.

I hope for redemption, that somehow the story of our marriage will not end in tragedy, but will become a picture of the good kingdom Jesus will one day establish. I hope that these vows would slowly transpose from silly words uttered by ignorant twenty-nothings to a legacy of love that points to another world:

I promise

through ordinary and exciting,

through sickness and health,

through conflict and peace,

I will walk alongside you.

I promise

through insecurity and identity

through difference and similarity

through static and clarity

I will sew my heart into yours.

I promise

for the healing of each other and the world,

by dependence on God’s grace

with everything I am,

I will learn to dance with you in oneness,

‘til death do us part.