From the Vault: “Celebrating the Ordinary”

(Originally blogged at my old blog on the occasion of my tenth wedding anniversary last May)

Yesterday was a pretty big day for Kelly and me as it marked a full decade gone by since Kelly Barnes agreed to become Kelly Love. Yes, yesterday was our ten-year wedding anniversary. This was most definitely an occasion to celebrate, especially in today’s culture where marriage is too often a disposable arrangement rather than a sacred institution.

So did we celebrate in the romantic fashion most would expect? Oh, let me tell you about it.

To begin, I slogged out of bed groggily at 5:15 to study and make lunches for our three children. At roughly 6, I started to rouse the kids, none of whom had any interest in getting up. My wife then prepared a solid breakfast (eggs, bacon, fruit) for the whole brood; two complained about it and none of them finished their plates. That’s just the beginning, though.

I had the day all planned out, of course, and we really got the romantic juices flowing as I took her to a place that’s pretty meaningful to both of us, work. Yes, we both teach at the same high school, our classrooms situated down the hall from each other’s next to both our respective genders’ restrooms (how cute). As best I remember, my wife spent her day caring about her students’ grades more than they did; I, meanwhile, admirably attempted to manage seniors who are, somewhat understandably, running low on motivation as the year winds down.

After work, we split up the duty of picking up our posse and met back at the house around 3:30, at which point we turned on some cartoons or something for the kids and both took power naps (romantic overload will wear a person out, right?). The next few hours were a blur of folding laundry, picking up things we’d just picked up that morning, grilling, bribing our kids with sugar to get them to eat healthy food, plunging the bathtub to clear a drain (which spurred an impromptu scrubbing of the entire shower), and playing a figurative game of “whack-a-mole” as we tried to get all three kids in bed at once and keep them there.

Eventually, Kelly and I managed to meet up at the couch and sit down to watch Trouble With the Curve, a movie that opens with the 176-year-old Clint Eastwood struggling to urinate (I know how to set the mood, folks). As I recall, it was a decent flick, but I have to admit I missed a lot due to being interrupted a few times by our daughter waking up crying; I also fell asleep for about twenty minutes somewhere just before the climax.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the romantic celebration of our tenth wedding anniversary.

It was perfect.

That sounds strange, right? There were no flowers. There was no babysitter. There was no intimate dinner at an expensive restaurant. There were none of the standard hallmarks of anniversary festivity. There was only us, three wild kids, a rough day at work, a semi-clean house, and a decent-but-not-amazing movie.

And I think that’s the best way we could have celebrated because when we got married, here is what we covenanted to do together: real life. Though we were too young and immature to understand everything we were saying, when Kelly and I got married, we acknowledged that we knew everyday life could be sweeter if we lived it together rather than apart; thus, we made big-boy/big-girl promises that we would love each other not just in the mountaintop moments, but also in those that were mundane, subpar, or even tragic.

Thankfully, yesterday was not tragic or even subpar. It was a common day with common frustrations that come along with being a married, working couple with rambunctious little ones. And on a common day, with common frustrations, we loved each other well because by God’s grace, we’ve learned that true covenant love built for the long haul isn’t fueled solely by the kind of fickle romantic feelings espoused in Hollywood scripts; no, those feelings undoubtedly rise and fall like the changing tide. True covenant love is, as Shakespeare so brilliantly said, “an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken.” True covenant love is unflappable and steadfast, regardless of whether it is celebrated with a fancy meal and fine wine or simply celebrated in the simplicity of a wife gently trying to keep her husband from nodding off during a movie because she, knowing him more intimately than anyone else, is aware that he might drool on her in his sleep. For better or worse, right?

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