We are sitting on our porch in Salatiga on a Saturday afternoon because the power is out and the dining room is dark.. Isaac made popcorn and the kids each have their own pile and are munching away happily and dancing to Josh Garrels playing in the background. By dancing I mean, for Elly, doing stiff knee bends in the way of newly-walking-toddlers. The afternoon winds are blowing – we just ran and pulled the “drying” laundry out of the rain and the call to prayer is ringing through.
This morning we took off on our motorcycles and grabbed soto ayam downtown before heading out to an old rock outside the city that is inscribed with ancient Javanese sanskrit and is supposed to be the oldest thing around. We had to stop halfway to put on our full abominable snowman rain gear and when we got there we of course ended up taking photos with the Indonesian class of high school kids that were there on a field trip. We did our grocery shopping with Elly napping in the Ergo and managed to fit it all on the motorcycles and home.
You know, 10 years ago this week Isaac asked me to marry him. Well, first he told me he loved me. I was 22 and a senior in college. I sat there and stared at him, mouth hanging open while the Christmas lights twinkled through the window down on the Magnificent Mile. I knew what “I love you” meant for the two of us, even before we met each other. Once we said it to each other, we meant it for life, because that's what real love is, right? “Love never fails.”
I said yes, and someone around the corner who saw it all bought us champagne, which we drank despite the Moody SLG rule, and I spent the rest of the evening literally shaking. It was beautiful, but it was also immense and scary because I realized that this decision was perhaps the second most important decision of our lives.
10 years later I don't have a lot of wise words about everything I've learned about marriage, or about how I had no idea what I was getting into 10 years ago. It actually HAS been what I expected. Life surprises you, and I expected that. We have both changed... and I expected that. Sometimes marriage is really wonderful and sometimes it's really hard.... and I expected that. That is what the vows are for, right? It is an immense and beautifully hopeful promise that is exchanged at the alter, and the rest of life is spent working it out.
I want to mark this year, though. We thought for most of our marriage that we would end up closer to Isaac's childhood home and instead we've ended up in mine. I have been so impressed with my husband this year. We moved a family across the world to a culture so different from his own way of thinking, and he has been so remarkably flexible and respectful. He's laughed and shaken his head instead of getting stressed out. He's fixed broken faucets and light fixtures and pipes and toilets and wow, I never knew how much of a handyman he was when we were living in apartments! He excels in school, understanding this new language more than I have in my entire lifetime of knowing it and surprising everyone with how quickly he has picked up the language. He's a smart one, my husband.
The greater privilege is watching people move from knowing Isaac as the funny smart guy to the comments like, “Your husband is smart, but he's also wise, and his faith and preaching is deep.” I see him committed to getting along with teammates and classmates, even when personalities, interests, and beliefs differ. I see him gently explaining his faith to friends here. I see him building train sets and snuggling Elly and doing laundry. And, to my great delight, he shares in my deep joy in hopping on the motorcycle and exploring this place. Driving through the rice fields of Java in the driving rain together? It really can't get any more romantic.
That girl who said yes 10 years ago didn't have any guarantees how how things would turn out, we can never have that. But what I saw and loved then is what I see and love now. The humor that keeps life fun, the intelligence that feeds our constant discussions, the gentleness that snuggles babies, the fierce loyalty and love that has fought for a good marriage, the faith that steadies him even when emotion is low, the drive that has gotten us past seminary, support raising, and across the world. I married a good man and a good match for me.
9 and ½ years is nothing to sneeze at, but the future holds many more mountains and valleys for us. We've passed the newly wed stage, seminary, and post-college jobs. We're in the “tired 30's” of raising babies and settling into careers. It's exhausting but it's also full of dreams and beginnings and excitement right now.
It is so different and further along and yet essentially the same as it was 10 years ago. A flawed me and a flawed you, covenanted to each other for this life, the covenant sealed by Christ. To God be the glory.