I sit there in my booth, book in hand, cup of tea steaming full of comfort on my table. My friend is delayed, so I savor the moments until she arrives. A little patch of alone time after a long day of marathon motherhood gives me the sigh my soul needs.
I look up from my book whenever the restaurant door opens to check if it is her. I want to hear her heart as much as I long to spend a bit of time enjoying my own repose. As I glance towards the swinging door, I spot him.
He sits at a table diagonal from me across the room. Through a grey and warm face he grins at me. His look tells the story of a man who has raised children, sent them grown into the world. worked hard, and retired. He now sits patiently and contentedly across from his bride of many years.
He gives me a pleasant grin — one unafraid of saying hello to strangers and one content from having walked hard roads. I go back to my book, but I can’t help looking up again and as I do, I see. He steps around the table to her.
They are leaving now and he is extending not one arm, but both. He reaches for her and uses his feet to stabilize her as she gently rocks and then unsteadily comes up towards him. She is on her feet now. They have this down. She needs him more than ever and he is there for her. This is their life. They leave in their oneness — unaware of the imprint of their interaction.
I am left so moved I feel the tears well in my eyes.
This is love — that we give our lives up for one another. We are committed through sickness or health, for richer or poorer. In the process we are so entwined we don’t even feel the sacrifice. Ultimately my giving to you becomes as natural as breathing.
We become the lovers who inspire romance by our very presence.
It isn’t silver-screen passion that makes for lifetime love. Durable, comfortable, well-worn love is earned through years of walking hard roads together. Love as natural as life belongs to those who have practiced the art of commitment.
We are left longing to grow into what they have.
GOOD MARRIAGES AREN’T PERFECT
Are you like this man, married long to the treasure of your soul?
Are you this woman, dependent, but confident in the one upon whom you depend?
I am most certain if their marriage has been anything, it has been normal. They have had fights. The thought has occasionally occurred to them, “Why did I marry THIS person?”
I know this because perfect relationships aren’t perfect after all. The marriage that lasts and inspires is the one which loves despite failings. I remember my grandmother saying one time, “We’ve had our hard years.” Hard years. That concept echoed in my youthful mind as it attempted to teach me that real love meant enduring difficulty together.
MORE BLESSED TO GIVE
We can be so eager to satisfy our own comfort and our own longings. In many ways, we have lost the art of hanging in there. Wanting what we want and feeling justified to demand it of our spouse has become a norm. We no longer see marriage as a place where we serve another and grow to be more mature in the process. We see marriage as one more place for self-fulfillment.
People might say things like, “He changed,” or “We just didn’t connect anymore.” They justify ending life-long, covenant relationships because they have to go “find ourselves.”
True love isn’t about finding ourselves as much as it is about finding someone else and losing our self-centeredness in the process. We experience wholeness as we give and sacrifice for love. It is in the pouring out for our beloved that we are filled.
This coffee shop couple, they know that secret — the secret we all really want to know — hanging in produces something beautiful.