“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
When you look at someone and see a life partner, the something you are seeing, is not really there yet. What you are seeing is a potentiality, a distant point that you might get to, but you don’t know the way yet. You need a traveling partner. Now you know what that saying is all about, “I could see my unborn children in her eyes”. That vision of eternity is gathered in two at a time.
And so it is, something as future driven as marriage can never really be separated from matters of faith. It also explains why it is silly in the end to argue what marriage is and is not from our very limited human perspective. Marriage by design seems geared to the basics of our biology, of one man and one woman and the promise of children. To take part in procreation means we are beholden to a power larger than ourselves. Somehow we are blessed with the potential to create human life, a chance for this love to live on even beyond our own lifetimes. All eyes on Eternity.
I have heard it said, that no relationship is entirely equal, never in a state of stasis. One is always waiting one for the other to grow in aspects they have already learned, just like a giant see-saw going back and forth, taking turns. What one person has, is ballast for what the other does not. There is always a lack somewhere, seeking balance.
It is a funny thing, this marriage business. I have gone out with a number of women and have not been struck with the idea that they should be my wife. Yet, when I saw my wife… I knew right away. I was proposing the idea of marriage within a week. She thought I was nuts. Even I thought I was nuts. Still, there are some things larger than life, that you cannot explain.
Not to imagine that it is all going to be clear sailing. That world doesn’t exist yet. Still, I think there are ongoing things one person teaches the other. Even a bit of abrasion wears off the rough edges over a lifetime.
The most odd thing to explain is how you got from there to here. It is hard sometimes to gauge the passage of time. One day you are traveling light, in my case with a backpack and one pair of jeans, a few T-shirts. I can recall her mother unlocking the gate and letting me come in. Somehow they knew as well, to sit back and watch life unfold without questioning why.
Now we look at our own children, and the ongoing jibe, is who looks more like whom. I am a bit overwhelmed in the genetic department, given that all my kids look kind of Middle-Eastern. They could pass for Greek or something like that. People sometimes look at them and say, “are those your kids? Really?”
But then I see them intuitively do something that is knee jerk behaviour for me, or for my wife. Life’s great joke is still awaiting them, that they are, and will be a lot like their own parents.
The whole process harks back to bigger things, the author and finisher of our faith, the one who created marriage for all of its mysterious purposes. The ones we are still figuring out. The idea that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, has come true before our own eyes. Here we are in this house, this home, these kids. How did we even get here?
Marriage never makes much sense. It is a job that volunteers you to be very busy, for a long, long time. By comparison, single life always looks pretty easy from a distance. There is all that freedom. Until you look at someone unmarried, and figure out that you are blessed in ways those single people might never even imagine. There is this invisible thing you have both built. And then there are those wonderful traveling companions they call kids that just make it all the more interesting. Busy, but it is worth it.
There are all those country songs about one waiting for the other in the course of a lifetime. “If you get there before I do” by Colin Rae comes to mind. Country music has a way with that, making you laugh and cry. There is also “Far Side Banks of Jordan”, made popular by June Carter and Johnny Cash.
We are headed to a far country. Travelling partners, hand in hand. If you get there before I do, wait for me, might be the advice of eternity, and always good counsel for any married couple.
After all, our lives are not much more than footprints in the sand, carrying each other home.