I was inspired to write this post quite a while ago, yet I have been sitting on it, waiting for the right words and thoughts to flow. I may or may not have been inspired for this title by the Greatest Showman and the one scene where Zac Efron and Zendaya are singing 'Rewrite the Stars.' As I listened (and that song and soundtrack has been on repeat for daysss, Y'all), those lyrics stood out and I knew I had to turn them into something:
"All I want is to fly with you
All I want is to fall with you
So just give me all of you"
I'll be real honest with you and say that at the moment, my husband and I are in an argument. It was a late night last night, feelings were hurt, and I ended up sleeping in my son's twin sized bunk bed (the kids were sharing the Queen in Reese's room). The last thing I said to him this morning was that I needed space to think and process and since then, complete silence. It's what I asked for though, right? I decided this is a perfect time to write about the notion of flying with your partner, and yes, even falling. We all go through it, so why not talk about it?
Fighting is the worst. If you are aware enough in the moment to think clearly, even for just a moment, you realize you aren’t going anywhere, and that you have to work all this out. The trouble is, clarity in the moment is often very hard to come by, and you might as well have a back-hoe for how quickly you can dig that hole with your words. When she asked for space to process, I finally had that moment of clarity, only after I had created what felt like the grand canyon before that moment. Everything still had to be worked out, I was coming home to her tonight, how deep had I made my hole.
It has been a week since my horse accident. While the title "I want to fall with you" kind of makes me cringe thinking just how far I LITERALLY fell from my precious horse, I think this phrase in a marriage is gold. In December, Asa and I will reach our ten year wedding anniversary. If you had told me when I was twenty all the numerous things and life events that would happen ten years later, there's no way I would have believed you. First of all, that young twenty-year-old who walked down the aisle was incredibly naive. She knew that bad things could happen, and that sure, there would probably be some tears and fighting, and she didn't have a clue what the vows would actually mean. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health...?
Watching Ash fall from the horse, and the moments that followed were some of the scariest of my life. Helpless and terrified were the feelings I could best describe. There was so much blood, she couldn’t move her hands, like at all. We had a very real fear that she was paralyzed. Terrified. Not at all like our wedding day. I felt calm, collected, ready. I kept waiting for fear and butterflies to come, for my feet to get cold…but they stayed warm, even in the snow and we were married. We made vows to each other, vows that we didn’t quite grasp then, and likely barely grasp now. But we made vows. Timothy Keller says when marriage gets hard we need to cling to the vows we made, vows we’re still learning to understand.
Our first year of marriage looked like cheap Chinese takeout and Asa mowing our tiny patch of grass of a yard to knock off some money off our rent. We later stumbled through things like medical bills (did you know having babies is SO expensive????) Every year, God has been good to us and we haven't had to live in fear of not being able to pay our bills; but we definitely know what it feels like to scrap and scrounge for income. And it wasn't the first year of marriage that was the hardest (why do people even say that?!) It was the sixth. The year our sweet baby girl was born. Postpartum and Thyroiditis Ashley began to doubt everything--why did I get married so young? What if I wasn't cut out for this? Am I allowed to walk away? Imagine your husband sitting on the porch with you, dialoguing about all these questions WITH you. Processing WITH you. Standing firm and saying, "I will be here in the morning." That year ultimately ended with us getting I Choose You tattoos (our mantra for each other), and our marriage has since flourished. (Except when I sleep in a bunk bed because I am too stubborn to go back to bed with him...) Side note: get this resolved asap...
The first year was a breeze. We had no money, but we never had any before. So at least now we were broke together! It’s way more fun to be grateful for bad Chinese takeout with someone, that sit alone on the couch alone eating the same bad takeout. Money has always been an issue, and always been a means for God to show up. When I became a teacher I literally got the flu the same week. It also happened to run right into Christmas break from school. We were missing 3 weeks pay from me, and had no money for bills, food, anything. And this was after I got this salary job that was going to change our Chinese takeout status to actual date night in a restaurant status. God is funny like that, in my moment of financial achievement he reminds me how much we need him. People from our church provided for us in a way that I’m still humbled by. The real trouble came shortly after Reese was born. I’ll never presume to know how the mind of a woman works. But night after night, Ashley felt like running. She wanted to leave, or stay, or start over, or give up. Internally I was going through emotional hell, but I also knew the truth. I wasn’t going anywhere. And however this played out, I was going to have to dig out of this hole. So as hard as it was, I chose patience, I chose to sit and talk. We talked about our vows, our children, our life, the what if’s of lots of different questions. I think it was a season that brought us closer together. Somehow in the midst of this crisis, Christ shone in, and Love won.
I can remember Asa being really sick only one time so far. It was when he had the flu shortly after he was hired as a teacher. We hadn't yet begun planning or thinking about kids, and we lived in our second street apartment. I believe it was our second year of marriage? He had incredibly high fevers, a wretched and painful cough, and I've never seen him so miserable. I did my best to love and care for him, but honestly Guys, all of my memories are of sicknesses are the times he's cared for me. In sickness, and in health. He has nursed me back to health numerous times, as I am clearly the more sickly one in the relationship. I've had strep, the flu, random viruses, two babies and going through the postpartum recovery process, and now--NOW, a horse fall. I have a busted lip and a broken lady part and he has sat with me through it all. Fun fact: I recently broke down ugly girl crying after simply going pee, and then as I sobbed, told him I couldn't remember if I had taken my medications. My mind + my body have equaled one GIANT mess, and I just keep hearing those lyrics.
I don’t get sick. I don’t mean that arrogantly. It’s just true. I was a healthy kid, and healthy still. I joke with Ashley that it’s because I drink 100+ ounces of water daily, and exercise 5 or more times a week, but I don’t really know what the reason. I do know I’m blessed to be healthy, and I don’t take that for granted. My poor wife on the other hand…when one kid sneeze I go by cold and sinus meds for Ash, because I know she’s next. The summer of 2016 was the most epically sick my family has ever been. From the moment school let out for the summer we battled Strep, stomach bugs, flu bugs, rashes, more strep, and a GI bug. When I went back to work in August I joked with my coworkers, that it was a vacation to be at school. Jokes aside, isn’t it wonderful to be needed? Not superficially, but actually physically needed. I “slept” next to my daughter and every 5-10 minutes I held her hair back with one hand and a puke pan with another. She survived the night because I made vows to my wife that carry over to my kids. And honestly, being needed is an incredible feeling. Exhaustingly incredible, but incredible none the less.
Marriage. It definitely is not always sunshine and roses and unicorns. I'm not sure that he would picture unicorns in the equation of a happy marriage? But I'll roll the dice on that. Sometimes, we fight. We say hurful things, get a little too loud, feel all sorts of anger and resentment boil over in our insides, and coming back together unified can take a little while. There have been quite a few 'for worse' moments and memories in these nine years, but there have also been 'FOR BETTER' ones too:
Our vacations together and the slow, quiet moments during them. Dancing in the living room, standing on the top of his feet. Laughing hysterically at quite literally the dumbest things. Building homes together, not literally building THE home, but making where we live home. Each one, each time, they've all been home. Having kids together. Watching him be a father. Praying together. Dreaming together. And even though he doesn't love to do this because he's such a hot sleeper, my husband is definitely the best Big Spoon on the planet. I never feel safer than when I am inside his arms, his arms wrapped around me--he makes me feel so small and yet so empowered when he holds me.
Walking our dogs around St. James court, binge watching anything next to her, climbing mountains and waterfalls. Getting excited to buy a spatula in our first home. Building nurseries and filling them with babies and memories. Back porch sitting, practicing hospitality with her. Getting lost in neighborhoods, and coming up with cover stories about looking for our lost sister. Coffee and pasta. Goat cheese and sushi. Building dreams from conversations, and watching conversations come to life. Praying together. Splash parks, hikes, gardens, horses, open spaces, anywhere she's near. The quiet we can sit in, and have learned to appreciate. Sometimes the still moments near her, and the most valuable in my day.
The moral of my story? Fly with your spouse. But don't forget that while you're flying, there is going to come a moment that you are going to fall--how do you want to do that? Completely alone? Or wrapped in the arms of the one who loves and chose you?
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:4-6