[PART ONE: The idea of “a sacred history” has captured my imagination this month. I’ve found myself internally shining its light on my relationships as wife, friend, mother. Writing in this quiet corner of the digital world is one way I process the big ideas, especially those seen through the lens of story. In these dog days of summer before school begins I will share three posts that highlight sacred histories. Today I share the first.]
“We proclaim the prophetic grace of marriage when we understand
the sacredness of building a history together.”
–Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
Marriage has the been the greatest contradiction of our lives so far. We have found it to be both hard and easy, boring and exciting, thoroughly frustrating and excruciatingly beautiful.
After a year of planning and saving, last month Todd and I went on a 10 day vacation together. To celebrate his 50th and us making it safe thus far. An Alaskan cruise up the inside passage with some friends and the longest time we’d spent together as a couple since our first baby was born 23 years ago. It was to be a trip of a lifetime kind of event.
And yet as our departure date approached we were both anxious and dragging our feet for all the reasons that reflect our disparate personalities. For some, traveling is pure couple joy. Goody goody for you. For us, traveling together has always seemed to be the activity that sets our teeth on edge and highlights every irritation and annoyance, filled with in your face reminders of how opposite we are to the core.
Embarrassingly, this is what I knew from past experience. I had the power to make this blessing of a trip miserable for both of us. And I wouldn’t even have to work at it. Habitual patterns of poor communication and negative attitudes follow us on trips like old Pavlov’s dog. But I also knew I had the power to change the narrative, at least from my side of the suitcase. The last thing I wanted was to shamefully waste this beautiful opportunity to change the story of “How We Travel.”
I would need help though so I did a couple things. I confessed to a few friends, specifically asking for prayer cover and I downloaded Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. The subtitle is “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” which seemed highly appropriate for such a time as this.
Guess what? We had the time of our lives.
This is what I learned from my friends. Accountability is key to changing old sinful habits. Knowing that friends were praying for my heart to change and would follow up on my return with eyebrows kindly raised, provided the gentle shoulder taps I needed to lean into traveling a better story. In all the lines and border crossings and taxi transfers and simple choices that came to us each day, grace swooped in time after time. The daily grace that pushed out old patterns felt like a miracle the size of an Alaskan glacier. They taught me that stepping into humbling awkwardness with your people is the wisest path to growth.
This is what Thomas’s book taught me. In Sacred Marriage Thomas suggests that one of the best recipes for a holy and successful marriage is this: “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5. These two things, love and perseverance, are core essentials for building a what he calls a sacred history. Perseverance, that weary workhorse of a character trait, earns compound interest after time. Thomas writes that, “Building a sacred history together teaches us to be persistent in doing good, even when we want to do something else.” After 28 years of stumbling and rising in cycles of predictability, I see the sanctifying value of building a history together that becomes sacred, one small story at a time.
This is what I learned after spending 10 days with my husband. I am still deeply in love with my man and we actually can have fun when its just the two of us. We have so much to look forward to and I’m settled in my spirit that the best is yet to come. Old marriages need as much TLC as new ones in order to thrive, not just survive. And our sacred history is worth cherishing in the now and fighting for in the future.
A word to all entering the twilight of your third decade of marriage: go away together, remember who you are, dream about who you’ll be, reclaim your story.