Just two people.
This week has been a bit of a crazy one. Parts were very much challenging. I had an awful day at the pie shop where I messed up more things than I can even keep track of. I watched one of my kids graduate eighth grade. I was an impatient jerk to my husband one day after work. I worked a lot of extra hours at my other job. We had goofy moments of laughter and sweet moments of cuddling. Just real life, man.
Today we had a date night to make up and some discussion questions to talk through from the Marriage Workshop we attended last night at church.
We decided on Cracker Barrel for an early lunch since we had a and an extra $20 that was given to us for our anniversary. We're doing our best to watch our finances, because newly married life is all about those bills, and more bills and saving and fixing all of the breaking things and even more bills and yeah.
The atmosphere was loud and a little hectic at first, and we felt a little overwhelmed. After a little bit though we were able to get settled and I pulled out our marriage questions. Greg HATES answering questions, but he LOVES me so he was on board. I'm a process-as-I-talk person and he's a internalize-things-for-awhile-and-can't-form-words-about-deep-things-on-the-fly guy.
Of course our conversation had lots of sass and silliness and some extra dramatization with a bit of sarcasm for good measure. We talked about the difficult things. But we also laughed a lot.
Pretty soon after sitting down I noticed this sweet little old lady sitting close by. She heard me in mid-laugh and looked over and smiled. She immediately had my attention.
She was with her husband and another older couple. I caught her glancing over at me several times. I was so drawn to her. There was something about her that I just immediately feel in love with.
***Disclaimer*** I am NOT a creepy, stalker person. (I guess if I have to say that, then that's a bad sign.) Yes, I am a people watcher. But I don’t think that makes me a creeper. Go ahead and carry on, dear reader, with your preconceived notions...
I watched as the server brought their food. I watched as they all bowed their heads and prayed. I noticed that her hands shook. A saw the slight tremors in her face. I watched her slowly eat her food with a bit of difficulty, but with slow, graceful determination. Her hands may have been unsteady and her pace was slow, but I was amazed at the amount of simple elegance this woman had.
Her hair was lovely white.
Her husband was a bit more gruff. Not in a "I am a jerk" way, just very matter-of-fact. Life had led him to be efficient and to the point. But the love between them was so apparent. He loved his wife with everything in him. I watched as he offered her some of his food. The simple act of moving a bowl for her to reach in with her fork, was so intimate. The patience, the kindness, the love.
I told Greg that I seriously loved this woman. Everything about her. Her smile. Her joy. Her kindness. The way she radiated Jesus to me. I wanted to go and hug her, tell her I loved her and be close enough to smell her hair. (I know this is weird, but I'm totally okay with that. Feel free to refer to my not-a-stalker disclaimer above). But I didn't know how to do this and not be weird, so I didn't.
We talked through our questions and enjoyed our food. We talked through the harder things and the more joyous ones. We finished eating and got ready to go. I decided to run to the bathroom real quick.
When I got back to the table Greg said he did something and he was sorry. (That's a great thing to say in the midst of marriage discussions, by the way. Or at least a great way to get your wife's attention, super fast.) He wanted me to be here so we could make the decision together, but he went ahead and did it anyway because I wasn’t back yet. His voice was soft and his face serious.
He bought their dinner. My husband anonymously talked to our server and picked up their ticket.
There have been few times where I loved my Gregory James more.
I almost burst into tears on the spot.
As we walked around the little shop after paying I turned to him and told him how much that meant to me. His response, "You know why I wanted to ask you, right? That's our money. I didn't want to make a decision without you. But I saw how much joy that woman brought you. And that is so worth it."
I (remember the most of the time shy and full of anxiety in public places lady) pulled him in close and kissed him right there in the Old Country Store.
Throughout, the rest of the day I've been thinking of that woman and her husband. I see the way she smiled as she talked to the server when he brought her a to-go container for her food. I've been thinking about the way her husband raised his fork in the air when the server asked if they wanted dessert. How it amazed me that so much subtle yet perfect dignity could be packed into such a simple motion.
And I thought about the amount of love that I had for my husband in that moment and how it still takes my breath away. For him to be so in tune with me. For him to be so willing to sacrifice and bless the people around us.
I told him I never want us to lose this. I want to continue to be generous to the point where it's a sacrifice. I want to raise children that see us live our lives this way. I want to live our life with less of the things that we'd like to have, so that we can love others. I don't ever want to lose the feelings that came along with being in this world and sitting next to people and loving them.
I think maybe this is what marriage can be. Two people just living life. Two people that watch and listen and act. Two people that smile at each other and also at those around them. Two people that love so fiercely and so fully that it is evident to others.
Two people that are willing to sacrifice. When that means giving up money. When that means watching your wife struggle in old age. When that means giving up time and dreams and all of the love. Patience. Kindness. Joy.
Just two people.
Maybe marriage can be something so beautiful that when you love someone so fully it doesn't just benefit your spouse, but it benefits the world around us.
We did something so small. That couple did something so much more spectacular than what we did in my eyes. They showed me what love looks like when you wear it for years. Yes, I felt the sadness of the reality of broken bodies and how the world eventually tears us apart. But it also brought me the breathtaking joy of seeing a smile that has endured more than I could ever know or imagine. It showed me that love really does change us. I got a glimpse of a story that I didn't even really know. I brushed up against something great.
Last night at the Marriage Workshop our good friends prayed for us. They've been married probably as long or longer than I've been alive. They prayed for our marriage and for God to bless us. They prayed kind words and refreshing truth. And they prayed that we would make it until old age together. They prayed for our health and our togetherness. And this is something that is so special to me. I feel the reality of our age differences. My husband is 15 years older than I am. Old age holds some hidden fears for me.
But tonight as I sit on my deck as the sun goes down and think though these things I feel something else. I feel redemption. I feel hope. And I have faith. Old age holds some special things. A love that has aged and matured is so remarkable.
Two people enduring and loving and giving everything is beautiful and breathtaking and oh so all-consuming.