Sixty years. Well, okay… 59 years, 333 days. That’s how long my parents were married. That’s 21,868 “I Do’s.” That’s because that is how many days they got up and made the choice all over again to live in committed love to the person they said “I do” to in front of the minister in the little church back on March 26, 1960.
They were the first example in my life of what it meant to love someone on purpose. And they didn’t fall out of love because they didn’t fall in love. Oh, I’m sure there were initially some giddy feelings of romance they felt when they were first dating, engaged and married. And I’m sure those feelings deepened over the years. But they deepened because— each day— both of them made the choice to love the other one. For better or worse… and they did indeed experience both in those 60 years. For richer or poorer… yep, did that one and got the t-shirt to prove it. In sickness and in health… they definitely both ponied up on that one. Forsaking all others… totally, all day, every day. I can’t type the last part because it’s just too soon, but you know what it is… and they made it all the way to the end!
I know my experience isn’t what everyone else’s is. Some of you may read this, and it may sound as foreign to you as a language or culture you’ve never experienced because your family’s history doesn’t read anything like this. And I know that some folks face terrible situations in marriages in which it is safer for them to get out. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. You see, I also had the privilege of marrying someone whose parents did the exact same as mine. Nearly six decades of steady, committed love. And so we came into our marriage with legacy… with examples… with up-close and personal insights into what it looks like to choose to love.
Choosing to love means overlooking the other person’s mistakes and faults… and loving them anyway. Choosing to love means doing the actions of love even when the emotions may not be there at the moment. Choosing to love means sacrificing for the other person and compromising for the good of both.
I’m so proud of my parents. Mom & Dad, you crushed it! You nailed it! And in the process, you taught me how to live out a committed love.
My heart breaks today in some ways because you didn’t get to officially hit that big 6-0 milestone… just 32 days short. But then I see you, Mom… how you have honored Dad still every day over the past month. And I see how hard Dad worked to make sure that he provided for you even after he moved to Heaven. And for that, I am calling it 60 years. Congratulations! And thanks for the example. I got it loud and clear!