I hear you downstairs now. Splashing water, scrubbing pots. Doing chores so I can write.
You’ll empty out the coffee grinds, rinse the filter. Scoop the fresh stuff and measure the water, just the way I like it.
Grown-Up Life in action, making sure my coffee pot is all set for tomorrow.
The coffee pot that still bubbles faithfully every morning, still beeps “hope” to start my day, just like it has for the last ten years, since it was graciously given by the woman I used to nanny for.
Her marriage didn’t seem hard. The house was tidy and neat. The kids obeyed (mostly). The schedule was tight, but carefully kept. The husband was quiet but kind. She was smart and beautiful. What’s not to love?
And what about my dear friends, the ones who lovingly mentor young couples along, the ones who sat across from us in their cozy green couch one night, and as the husband relaxed with one arm around his happy bride, he proudly shared, “We’ve been blessed with an easy marriage.” To know them was to believe it. I’d worked with them for years, and saw how the personalities meshed, the love just seemed to flow, and if serving one another didn’t come naturally, it still came quickly.
From the outside looking in, it can sure look like love comes easy for some couples.
And I thought it would be easy for us, too. When I put on the big white dress and you, the suit you hoped would make you look like James Bond (it did). We smiled and embraced and posed and danced for the photographer. The joy that radiated through the camera still shines in our pictures today.
Maybe we tasted easy in that moment. We tasted easy with the sparkling cider we served at our wedding, because we were too cheap to buy wine… but who needs wine anyway, when you’re drunk on love?
Now our marriage is as old as the faithful coffee pot. And I wonder…have we been as dependable as it? Have we said “yes” to warming up our home each morning, no matter how cold the day? Have we responded to meet the needs of the other, no matter how tired we are? Have we done what we’re meant to do… what we’re supposed to do… what we’re created to do… without expecting anything in return?
Maybe couples who seem like they’ve got an “easy” marriage have really had to fight for it, just like we have, and love has come more easily over time. Or maybe love really does come as naturally to some couples as obeying the “on” button comes every morning to my coffee pot. But I know grown-up love doesn’t come easily to us. Easy hasn’t been our friend.
Easy has tantalized, he doesn’t really need you to make him breakfast and share a smile on his way out the door this morning. You can sleep in a little bit.
Easy has whispered to us things like, it’s ok, she doesn’t need help caring for the sick child… you deserve a break.
If we gave in to the pull to do what’s “easy”, one or the other of us might’ve not had the strength to carry on when Things Got Hard.
We’re learning to stop listening to Easy and start listening to the One we’ve both chosen to trust, the One who said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” (Luke 6:31). Some call it the Golden Rule, others call it philosophy. For us, it’s been the way to find Real Love.
It sure is a simple statement. Simple enough that our six year-old has memorized it.
The same six year-old who donned jacket and boots to go exploring with me today when the rain finally stopped, but the puddles held their ground, and she went out of her way to jump in the biggest one she could find. Smile radiating on her gorgeous face as her strong legs broke the surface. The water splashed around her pink polka-dot boots… but it didn’t just splash, it rippled. Ripple after ripple after ripple, all the way to the edges of the puddle that was so big it was almost a pond.
Ripples like the legacy we leave. Because this pond we’re swimming in? It holds more than just you and me.
Treating each other the way we would like to be treated isn’t always easy. It sure takes more determination than simply memorizing eleven words.
But if we choose easy…what ripple effect will that have on our family… our children… their children?
If we choose grown-up love…what will that mean to the edges of the pond?
Grown-up love that feels every day of the ten years since that day of sunshine and laughter… every gray hair, every story to share… but still looks at the other and says, “You’re beautiful.”
Grown-up love knows that flowers and date nights out are just not in the budget, but instead of complaining, it whispers, it’s ok, and plans a movie night at home instead… because what matters is being with you.
Grown-up love woke up at 5:30 this morning to go to work, just like you do every morning, because real love says I will take care of you.
Grown-up love cares for the children all day and cooks dinner for my family every night… because you can count on me.
Grown-up love teaches me to lay aside my own feelings and offer up a word of encouragement during a time of conflict … because you are worth it to me.
Grown-up love lays down yesterday’s disappointments and lets go of unfair expectations… because marriage is about embracing each other as we are today.
Grown-up love says, I won’t let my mood, or my internal stressors, or my external pressures, dictate how I treat my family. But I will choose to be patient, I will choose to be kind, especially when it’s hard… because that’s what a family deserves.
Maybe our love will never come as easily as plugging in a well-loved appliance. But maybe I’m glad.
I can’t say I’m grateful for all the ups and downs we’ve had. Or the pain we’ve caused each other.
But I can say I’m grateful for what our not-so-easy love has taught us…
It’s taught us the value of simple… faithful… dependable… togetherness. The kind that doesn’t give up, it grows up. And it’s taught us to fight…
Because when things get hard, this kind of love fights harder.
When things get hard…
It might seem easy to give up.
It might seem easy to do “what feels good.”
Like a toddler clinging to a piece of candy
Or a teenager trying to get her own way.
But when things get hard…
It’s actually the perfect time
To do for you
What I would have you do for me.
It’s the perfect time
To say, take my hand
And let’s grow up together
So we can grow old together.