After an afternoon of pool time, clouds rolled in so we moved to the front porch and watched the rain steadily refresh the fields, cleanse the air, rinse the horses and cool the day. They are not side by side, but they are together in our circle of rocking chairs and benches.
There is nothing that stands out
– that s.c.r.e.a.m.s I love you –
in their conversation …
in their interactions.
It is subtle.
But, it is strong and firm, rich and deep … it appears solid to me.
They have the same tattoo – he has it on his right arm (above on the right)…. she has it on her back (and mine, above on the left, is obviously the temporary, just-for-fun (pain-free, I might add) sort of tat).
He cooks for her. Not occasionally, but daily : breakfast, lunch and dinner. He is the chef.
They are unconventional … she cuts the yard. The horses are her love so she cares for the barn, the pasture and the animals. She keeps the floors clean and washes every stitch of laundry.
But, you know when you’re around them … that they are united. They are a team.
Quite some time ago, there was jesting about me having to stand in line behind the other women that want Jeff, should something happen to Della. Della knows he is a catch … and vice-versa. I don’t remember how it all began … but it made me slightly uncomfortable. It was too personal for me. Della and Jeff find comedy in ideas that skirt appropriateness. They at not afraid to say … what others may or may not already think.
While I hold Jeff in high esteem, I’ve never thought of such a thing as something to consider … which is exactly why it came so natural as a comment from them. It was on the edge … the fray of acceptable. That’s where they live and converse – on the edge of acceptable. They push the envelope. I like it. They make me think, laugh and consider.
If you are around Jeff long enough, you’ll notice that he doesn’t maintain eye contact for long. He’s always moving. He doesn’t sit down to have long conversations. Oh, he talks and listens and converses … but he’s almost always busy doing something else – with his hands, with his mind – WHILE he’s talking.
On a visit in December, we were out at a restaurant and he confirmed
what I already knew.
He looked me square in the eye
– while looking straight through me –
“You know, if anything were to ever happen to Della
I would never re-marry,
because I know that I could never love anyone as much as I do her.
She could never be replaced.”
And I already knew that
but it was good to hear him say it
with concrete authority.
I’ve thought so much about relationships, commitment and marriage lately …
having walked through divorce
and watching people I know and have loved
divorce, re-marry and divorce again with incredible speed.
I think about the verses that talk about marriage, remarriage, and divorce
and of me living my life alone … until death. It’s hard to accept.
Like a game of dodge ball with the enemy holding the ball
furiously slamming the ball into the group standing in the middle,
the couples inside the circle continue to diminish
as they are hit with that ball that eliminates one couple at a time.
I have told my children before
that the single most important decision that an adult will make in his/her lifetime
– aside from your acceptance or rejection of God and His Son –
is the choice of a mate.
I believe that with every ounce of my being.
I also believe that you can marry someone that you aren’t “in love” with
and remain happily, fulfillingly married
if both of you are committed to making that relationship work.
“Love” (the emotional, passionate kind that makes your knees weak) ebbs and flows.
Commitment is a decision.
And with it and through it, a friendship/union/marriage can last.
And if you pray about the decision of whom you should wed,
but you’re having sex with the person involved,
I don’t believe you can clearly hear God’s direction.
I liken it to praying that God
help you make this batch of meth without it exploding,
help you rob a liquor store without having to shoot someone,
or help you to write small enough on your wrist
that you can effectively cheat on a test without getting discovered.
I watch Della and Jeff. I think of my future and how I will live it.
I consider obedience to God, His blessings and consequences
to living out our misunderstandings, missteps and sins.
As we left Cairo last weekend, Della hugged me tight and long. As we shared our goodbye, she said something to the affect of “I hate what your life looks like.” I knew exactly what she meant. She sees the big picture and the corners and crevices … she knows my heart as much as a friend can. Sometimes, I get caught up in empty … what some others have and I spent my life striving towards. And when I shake it off, I remember that God forgives the wrongdoing, soothes the injury, and fills the empty spaces.
And I write all these things so that I might ask
Whom shall you wed?
Lay aside passion, giddy infatuation and societal standards
and consider the important.
Are the two of you compatible? Are you single minded? If you are a Christian, is he/she? Are you from denominations that are not compatible? Do you “fight fair” or is one of you a dirty warrior? Can you disagree and still remain one? Have you let physical intimacy influence your view of your partner? Do you spend your relationship in an on again/off again mode?
Because, truly, truly
the decision of choosing a mate
is one of the most important decisions
you’ll make in your lifetime.
Choose with wisdom.