Spring 2009. His Facebook profile picture popped up as a friend request on my screen. We had a mutual friend who thought we might hit it off and wanted to introduce us. The introductions were happening via Facebook because of one tiny detail – he lived in Mississippi, and I was living in Beijing.
He was definitely cute, no denying it. But the geographical hurdle that would have to be jumped to even meet seemed slightly overwhelming, so I really didn’t give it much thought. I WAS planning on moving back to the States that summer, but home for me was Florida, which was still two states away from Mississippi. And so we did the whole “hey how are you” bit online with a little bit of commenting back and forth and that was pretty much that.
Until I moved back home and traveled to Mississippi that Thanksgiving to visit our mutual friends.
Of course, being the good matchmaker that she was, my friend set up a ‘group date’ for the four of us – her, her husband, Facebook guy and me. No potential for awkwardness there.
But here’s the thing – it wasn’t awkward. We introduced ourselves quite naturally at church that morning, went out for our group dinner-date that evening, stayed up until past midnight talking at our friends’ house afterwards, and then said goodbye. Since we didn’t exchange numbers, I remember thinking “that was fun, not sure if I’ll ever see you again, have a nice life.” or something along those lines.
Fast forward through me-calling-him after my friend provided his number (and a bona-fide Jesus miracle that I ever worked up the courage for it) so he would have my number, months of Facebooking, texting, phones calls, THE phone call with the DTR (Define The Relationship) conversation, plane rides back and forth between Mississippi and Florida, a wedding, a honeymoon in Canada, a new dog, a new house, and texting conversations that now look like comfortable versions of “headed your way,” “can you grab milk on your way home?” or “we’re meeting so-and-so at 6 tonight, that work?” rather than the romantic tomes that we used to send each other.
And here we stand, celebrating five years of this journey called marriage on Saturday, still newlyweds really, in the grand scheme of things. The highlights, the Instagram-worthy moments in these past five years have been well documented. The holidays, the special occasions, the travels together, the goofy moments. Those have been the various paintings in the galleries of memories shared. But the brushstrokes that form those paintings are found in the small moments, the daily stuff of life. The paintings wouldn’t exist without them.
The text message sent just to say ‘I love you.’
The mowing of the yard in the heat of the day.
The prayers whispered together, heads nestled in pillows, just before giving way to sleep.
The back rub given after a long day of work.
The pair of socks left on the floor, evidence that conversations are more important than a clean house.
Wrestling to understand the other’s point of view, even when frustrated.
Demolishing wasps’ nests on the front porch because he knows it freaks you out.
Having cookies waiting for him when he gets home.
I’m learning that those brushstrokes, the small moments of life in a marriage, can often make Selfishness rear back its ugly head and rise to the surface. There are moments, all too often, when I feel like the most selfish being on the planet, when I lash out with MY thoughts, MY feelings, MY wants. And I beg forgiveness again.
But, if we’ll let them, those brushstrokes can also gently sift Selfishness out over time. Moments, here and there, when I learn to lay down my rights and my wants for the one that God gave me. Because great things – and marriage IS a great thing – are worth fighting for. WE are worth fighting for. Those battles are fought and won, not in the picture-perfect, Instagram-worthy moments of life, but in the small, everyday moments.
And there’s no one I’d rather learn those brushstrokes of small moments with than him.
Here’s to a gallery filled with paintings for the next 100 years, Babes.