When we got married, we liked each other– a lot. And we called it love because that’s what you do.
But then it was only weeks after the wedding and I was stumbling into a year of depression and to be honest? I wasn’t very likable. I’m pretty sure the only person who actually enjoyed being around me was my mother. Thank God for mothers. But he was right there, just the same, walking beside me.
And then we were moving to Haiti and it was just us and this foreign language all around. Our knowledge of each other got pretty deep and at times life was a bit tense. Turns out there were some things we liked about each other and some things we didn’t. But we were stuck right there together, and just as the Creole language started to make sense with time, some of this marriage stuff began to make sense as well.
Turns out liking someone has very little to do with loving them.
Then we danced in the barn gripping a positive pregnancy test and subsequently mourned over the loss of a child who never truly lived. And he traced my cheekbone with his finger then leaned in and let his tears mingle with mine.
The next time depression attacked, he was right there, closer than ever. He caught my hand and whispered, “I’m scared, honey, so scared that I’m going to lose you again. Please, wherever your mind drags you, bring me along.” And he stooped and bore a load that wasn’t his and fought my demons away with gentle patience.
Turns out that when someone loves you true, liking them comes real natural.
Then there was this boy, this precious little orphaned 5 year old, and we made plans and payed out money and began preparing…
And my husband held my hand and walked with me for hours after the email came. He didn’t say anything, just walked the fields and listened to me take deep cleansing breaths. I knew that he had kept this removed a little, unbelieving that it would really happen, but he walked through my pain just the same.
Later he shrugged, “I thought to keep my heart safe but that really is impossible because you are my heart.” And his hand tightened on mine.
It was over a year before I could open up again. It was a girl this time and she came and played in the yard and snuggled in our extra bedroom. We met with a lawyer and finally told family and maybe, maybe this was really real?
This time we just stared at each other. And anger shook him because he’s a man and anger is easier than heartbreak. And I knelt beside him and held on because his heart was going to break and I love him, oh, I love him with this deep aching love, and I’d rather walk through the deepest sorrow beside him than dance through the greatest happiness without him.
In storybooks, love is painted with great sweeps of joy. But real love? I think it is often built from sorrow.
It is the memory that when I was hurting the most, he never ever left. It’s the knowledge that no matter what kind of agony comes, I’ll never move from his side. It’s a choice we’ve made and we’re clinging to this great Solid Rock and even if we’re shaken to our core, our foundation won’t ever move.
And I’ll take this real, sorrow-stained love over the storybook kind any day.
Edited note: Years after this post was written, I finally released the rest of the story: how God built our family from all these splintered pieces and how we said goodbye to so many loved ones and still brought our older adopted children home. And, of course, how God taught my heart to delight in Him through it all.
Find your copy here: Counting Grains of Sand: Learning to Delight in a Promise-Making God