Disclaimer: If you’re someone who’s had a promise broken, or are one who has broken your covenant promise, know that God is the great redeemer. He is still the God who makes streams in the desert and rescues our lives from the pit, even pits we’ve dug ourselves. You are not without hope. You are so deeply loved, and can begin new today. I’m believing for that fresh new stream in my valley, and I believe for you too!
I was recently talking with a new friend. We were sharing different life experiences, both funny and serious. As I was sharing the life I had with Warren, this new friend posed a question that made me pause. He asked, “You mentioned several times that you two were not perfect, but what is perfect?”
“What is perfect?” That’s a great question!
Warren loved me and I loved Warren, but like many other young married couples, we had several years of struggling with that whole “and the two shall become one” concept. That sounded so sweet when we were dating, so wonderfully intoxicating, and we were spellbound by “And They Lived Happily Ever After!” He hugged me and I knew… I kissed him back and from that moment on he was set on marrying me…. I know, he’s not here to validate that, but you get my point. The Hollywood fairytale began, and it was a whirlwind from a shy “Hello” to “I DO!” We were in pursuit of each other.
We got married on July 27th, 1996. I think it was August 6th when the rose-color fell off the lens of those Hollywood glasses. We had decided to drive home a day early from our honeymoon. What we failed to do is book a hotel ahead of time for the early trip home. We left our posh log cabin that was nestled in the beautiful hills of Pigeon Forge, TN, with the idea that “Ever After” was on our side. We pulled off more exit ramps than I can remember. Every sign was lit up, “No Vacancy.” Most everything was booked out because of some big event, and that event filled multiple cities. Warren walked in to check on one place that had a few rooms left, but he didn’t like the price. We drove away from that clean place, that lovely accommodation with a kind staff, only to end up in some rundown pay-by-the-hour roach motel. We dared not turn the lights off because the multi-legged creepy-crawlies love to scavenge in the dark. It was gross! I began to realize how different Warren and I were when he wanted to be “playful.” My words to him, “Are you kidding me?! Here? Hmmm, No!” Yep, men are from Mars all right, and no doubt he was wondering what part of Venus I came from.
So began the journey of our life together. The first several years of our 9 1/2 year trek were filled with wonderful adventures along with lots of intense moments of fellowship. That’s what we liked to call our heated disagreements, but only after we learned to laugh at some of our silly and selfish moments. Like so many other couples, Warren and I had lost our pursuit for each other and began to focus more on what the other person wasn’t doing. When you add the pressures of living with family, the unspoken insecurities with unspoken expectations, and the pressures of being ministers, you have a great recipe for a storm. It took awhile to see it, but we also had the perfect recipe for something absolutely wonderful!
Thankfully, we had discussed many expectations for our “till death do us part” union. Before we chose to walk down the aisle of that church and stand before God to join ourselves together in a covenant relationship, we established that our relationship with God will always trump every decision, and that the word divorce was never to be spoken in an argument. We agreed, if we were going to do this thing called life, together, it would be for better or worse – together – committed to God and each other – COMMITTED! Though young and naive, we made a promise to weather every storm together.
If he were still alive today, he would laugh right along with me at those beginning years. He would also agree that the giddy feelings of love are fickle and not always felt. But, if we choose to love through those moments, and choose to stay true to the commitment made, even when the mind and flesh relentlessly tempt us to wander, then the feelings of love return. It’s only when we choose to fight for each other that we find the feelings deepen and the bond of commitment becomes so much sweeter than one can ever imagine. Choosing to weather every storm and mountaintop experience together is the true “Happily Ever After.”
When my friend asked me, “What is perfect?” he followed it up by saying that what I had is what many others would consider perfect. He adjusted my perspective. Instead of being fearful of painting an unrealistic life to others, I simply needed to be real about the fact that I did have perfect – perfect for me. I had someone who fought for me, and me for him. I had someone who chose me over all others, even when life was hard, even when the glitter of this world seemed so tempting and the grass looked so much greener on the other side. I had a best friend that came before all others and he had the same. We had strength in each other when we found no strength within ourselves. We were partners.
“What is perfect?” He asked. Perfect is knowing you’re loved when you’re being unlovable. It’s commitment fulfilled. It’s promises made, and apologies accepted when failures happen. It’s cheering the other person on when they think they can’t. It’s standing and fighting together when it seems the world all around is falling apart.
Yes, I had perfect, because we let Love bind our hearts together – real love – lasting love – Love Himself.
Love looks a lot like Jesus to me. He loves us when we’re lost and broken, when we’re afraid in the storm. When our strength is failing, He is the unexplainable peace that rides on the winds when they blow hard against us, and that gentle whisper of hope – “I will never leave you.”
Warren asked to see my wedding band. As he held it between us at eye level he said, “See how the circle is unbroken? I will always love you and I am committed to the promise I made. Like the unbroken circle of this gold band, I will love you.” Those were the words Warren spoke to me just months before he died. Just over three years later I would stand holding the wife of the man who killed Warren in my arms. There was a whisper that road on her breathless sobs as she expressed her sorrow for her husband’s actions. In that moment I remembered the gold ring, and our imperfect perfect love. As I reminisced, I prayed that God would show her how loved she is by the very one who teaches us how to love – by God Himself. I prayed that God would allow her to know her worth, even though she may never hear it from the one who put a ring on her finger.
I am grateful that my friend presented such a challenging and thought-provoking question. Sometimes we possess the perfect that others so long to have.
Death did not steal my perfect, because I know, we knew, that perfect is the Love that is alive in us. Jesus is big enough to overcome every storm, and His mighty love spans all eternity. It is limitless and without end.
Are you willing to have your perspective adjusted? Are you willing to look at what is going right instead of illuminating all that is going wrong? This life’s journey will have its sorrows along with its joys. We need to grieve the pain, but we should always look up and give thanks for all that is perfect in our world.
Take a deep breath in and listen for His whisper, “I will never leave you.”
“I had someone who fought for me, and me for him…” Will you fight for your promise, for your perfect for you? You can begin today by being the “I will.”
Now Enjoy The Journey!