Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tears for Fears

Chris and I went to a friend's wedding on Saturday. It was a beautiful day and I hope it was a day the bride and groom will look back on with precious memories.

My view of weddings is so different now, but I think it is only a good thing. Though sometimes, dare I say, I'm in no mood to sit and watch two people who have no idea what love is making vows to each other.
When did I become so cynical and ugly?

Even before I got married and especially after Chris and I were married, I was always so excited to see the excitement and joy, the love and sweet anticipation of the couple on their wedding day. Everything that lay before them seemed so bright and wonderful. It was a fairy tale unfolding before my eyes, not the end of the tale but just the beginning.

For better or for worse. 

That phrase has such a huge impact on me now. Before I got married, or even in the early years (the years where we fought, had no money, were both unemployed, and were struggling to find our identity as a couple) I assumed 'for better or for worse' meant when the other person forgets to wash the dishes, or leaves his dirty socks on the floor, or has yucky morning breath but insists on kissing you anyways. Even through the difficult struggles that we had, I assumed it was normal. Normal to fight, normal to struggle with finances, normal to discover that the man you married was not, in fact, a perfect white knight in shining armor.

I had no idea what 'for better or for worse' really meant. I didn't know that it entailed watching your husband sob at your only child's funeral. I didn't know that 'for worse' could be so bad. I didn't understand that vowing to be with someone through the 'worse' meant watching your husband struggle with deep depression and anger and only being able to hold his hand. I didn't realize it could mean needing your husband to take care of you because you can't get off the couch even to eat. For better or for worse... I didn't know it could be so hard.
At the same time, Chris had no idea when he was standing at the altar making a covenant with me that he would have to watch his smiling, sweet bride crumpled on the floor retching and sobbing, questioning her faith, God's goodness and even his existence.

But, yes, it means all that and more, I'm sure.

As we listened to the newly married couple recite their vows, I reached over and took Chris' hand. We shared a look that only the two of us could understand. For better or for worse.

It was good to hear and be reminded of the vows we took 5 years and 2 months ago, but I am reminded every day when I remember the days when we sat side by side on our couch and just existed together, struggling together, and each of us struggling with our own grief and anguish. We made vows that beautiful December day 5 years ago, but the covenant we made is not kept by our own strength or good intentions. Praise our Father in Heaven that he is faithful. He was there the day we took our vows. He knew what was coming in our marriage, he knew how inept we were and how there was no chance we could keep our promises to each other... he was there, standing in between us, holding our hands and making the covenant with us.

Each wedding I have attended since Owen's death has brought out the jealousy and anger I struggle with, but I have also been reminded of God's unfailing love and faithfulness to us in our own marriage, our life together. It is not the life we imagined we would live, and every once in a while (okay, more than that) I wonder what life would be like if it had gone the way we had planned. I didn't know 5 years ago that there would be one missing... a tow-headed toddler who should be filling our days with joy and tantrums and laughter... he is sorely missed.

God has brought me to a place where at times I am able to look around at our life and think, 'we have a good little life'. I enjoy my husband, which I know is something I should never take for granted, though I still sometimes do. Yet there will always be someone missing from our little life. Acceptance is something I think I will struggle to learn until Glory, yet there are times when I do accept that he is gone and will not return to us but we will go to him. God has been faithful to us, and I believe that his Covenant dictates that he will continue to be faithful to us. Though we are moving forward, we take our little boy with us. We carry him in our hearts and grieve his absence daily with aching hearts. Though there is healing, it will always hurt.

This picture was taken on Owen's 2nd birthday, when we celebrated his life with friends. I look at our faces and am struck by the genuine joy that is found there. God is faithful.

It is a mad world, papa, but I love you anyways.


Devon said...

i'm amazed at how much your words, your life echo my own. i've had those same thoughts so many times...

oh how i wish for money struggles to be our only issue....

thank you for saying it so eloquently.

Sara said...

Ebe, I have said over and over again over the past 16 months... "This is definitely the worse, in the for better or worse." Yeah, I agree, so much worse than I ever imagined. Ebe, you are wise. I look at you and think wow, just 5+years of marriage. What would greg and I have looked like at that point. We had 15 years together before Samuel. I am not sure we would have blossomed so well like you and Chris had our loss occured so early in our marriage. I say that just with a pride and happiness to be your friend and know you on this journey. Thinking of you and praying for Hannah Mae... may the Lord guide your heart as you move forward... getting closer to the day you will meet her face to face... not just feel her wiggling... I can't wait and it is not even me:)

Kelly said...

You are so right. Couples pledge their love and say their vows and I don't doubt that they mean them. Many of the common challenges that you described are what many attribute "worse" will mean. I am just so thankful that with what we have gone through, my marriage to DH has grown stronger. I am glad that this is true for you, as well.

The picture of you and your husband does show happiness. I'm glad that even with your grief that you are still able to experience joy.

Erika said...

what a beautiful post, and one i could have written (probably not as eloquently, but i hear myself so clearly in your words...)


Chris said...

Thank God He has overcome and is in control of this mad mad world. I love you to sweet Babe.

Rachel said...

Ebe - beautiful post! While reading it, it struck me how prepared Chris (and you) are going to be for the ministry because of all you have experienced in the past 5 years. As hard as it has been, you guys will be able to comfort many others who walk down the road you have already walked. Praise God for that!

Tonya said...

I love this post and that picture of you and Chris. There is true joy in your faces, despite the pain in your hearts. I've definitely thought of our wedding vows and how they've been tested through the years, especially the last 15 months. This was beautifully written. I am blessed to call you my friend. And I MISS YOU!!! Hopefully we can get together soon!

Love and hugs!

Anonymous said...

to experience intense excruciating emotional pain and to be able to fall into Jesus and still say, "it is well"...that is the promise only He can give.

thanks for reminding me.

Rebecca said...

This is beautiful & I have thought the very same things many times. I keep thinking back to our marriage counseling and how the pastor was asking us if we would still love one another when our hair thins or when we gain 30 pounds or....the dirty socks on the floor. I really believe that our 'for worse' has been far worse...will we love each other when we have grown apart? when there is no heartbeat? when we hold hands in front of a little casket? when we don't know where the money will come from to feed our children? when it seems as if life has broken free of its tether?

It's so much more than dirty socks, isn't it?

Laurie said...

Me too, Ebe.

Weddings will never be the same for me. Baby showers will never be the same for me. The "glow" on a pregnant woman's face is often lost on me. I just think to myself, "she has no idea..."