1 + 1 = 1
The traditional blog contains two posts: the hopeful introduction that sparks some interest in the author and the followup a few weeks later apologizing for not updating more often. I’m pretty sure when people wrote their intimate thoughts on paper, the pattern held. But since diaries and journals never get published until they have accumulated plenty of interesting content, we don’t know about the majority of them. Thanks to Google, WordPress, et al we can find every attempt at introspective writing in the blog format, which skews the results a bit. Let this serve as the introduction and let us agree never to write the second type of post: either by filling these virtual pages or by never apologizing for not doing so.
This picture is where I want to start our story. What a happy bunch of people we are! I’m the fellow in the center with a white bow tie and Joy is standing next to me looking especially radiant. It’s been 10 years and she looks even better today. I want you to hang onto this picture in your mind, since it’s real and true and a foretaste of glory. We are in a church, surrounded by friends, before God, Joy just became my wife, and I just became her husband. From here on out, we are, to use the Biblical metaphor, one flesh.
It’s a mystery really. God grants married people a special connection whether you know Him or not. I admit that I’ve lost sight of the picture at time, but somehow God did not let me drop out of our marriage. If it were by force of my will or of Joy’s, I don’t think our bond would have endured. I attribute the miracle of our marriage to God.
When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken.
—Deuteronomy 24:5 (ESV)
That was our vision. For one year, Joy and I would enjoy each other. After that, life would begin for us. We honeymooned on Catalina (with plans for Spain when we had saved up), we rented a dumpy little two-bedroom guest house, we bought a wonderful bed, we went out to eat as a couple on Saturday mornings. Joy got a temp job that had real potential to become full time. I starting riding my bike to work, which was busy and challenging and fun. The past was fading and the future was hazy but hopeful.
Then we discovered that despite waiting until marriage to have sex (exceedingly difficult) and using effective birth control, Joy was pregnant. It was at this moment that I discovered that my picture of marriage was all wrong. Joy had deep struggles that I had never explored. I had deep struggles that I had never explored. What sounds lovely in theory (two hearts beat as one), turns out to be terrifying when you realize that:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
—Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)
But for me and I hope for Joy, the best thing we could have done with our lives is to commit our deceitful hearts to each other. My sick heart wasn’t getting healthier on it’s own. There’s little doubt in my mind that without Joy, I would have sunk into a comfortable, but deadly bubble of my own making. She’s the one who talked me into trusting God more than myself. She’s the one who convinced me that I can’t serve God expect in the context of the church. She’s the one who asked me to confront my calcifying heart. And if you ask her, I had similar effects on her. The best part about marriage isn’t that we are right for each other, but that we are wrong for each other in just the right ways.
My story will (probably) wander into happier times and if you don’t happen to be happy yourself at the moment, that might be painful for you. But know that human happiness has never depended on humanity. Rather we are happy at times despite our desperately sick hearts.
Further up and further in!