“Every marriage ends badly”
As the man sitting across the room said this to us I remember feeling my heart beat a little faster.
Thoughts were running through my head, “Man… my marriage hasn’t even started yet.”
Jake and I were in our premarital counseling classes and we were privileged to discuss this insight.
Either Jake is going to die before me.
Or I am going to die before Jake.
If we did not take our covenant seriously there is also the option for divorce.
Every marriage ends badly, few ever get the ending that we wish for when we watch the Notebook.
This past week these same words I heard spoken to me in those cherished counseling sessions hit me once more.
I was lying in bed.
Jake was next to me.
More than a couple tears ran down my face as we discussed different pains in life we were facing.
A pity party for the loss of a family dog, a sadness from not being successful when support raising with churches, pain for not being around in Florida when some of the people closest to me are going through such hardships.
Jake pulled me in tight and held me.
He simply spoke, “Em when things end bad, it doesn’t make those things worthless. We could focus on the extremely bad day, but aren’t all the good and happy days worth so much more then one really really bad day?”
Before I said my vows to my best friend I had to make the decision. I had to come to grips with the fact that tragedy might strike, or I might be a widow one day dealing with pain that I today can not even begin to wrap my mind around. But I was so eager to make the decision to say yes to Jake. To make and cherish those simple memories of the day to day. To vow my life to his and love him with everything I have, even if it would cause me so much pain in the end.
Pets will die. But we still adopt pets because of the love we share with them in the present. Friendships may end. But we don’t stop having friends because we are designed to live in community. Churches may not support us. But we have to keep on support raising because God has given us a vision much bigger than ourselves.
Sometimes the journey ends badly, sometimes the journey is rough, but if the destination is noble, is it not often worth the journey?
Every day I get one day closer to saying goodbye to Jacob. Whether I greet Jesus first or he does, we are one day closer to separation. Pain. Suffering. Marriage ends badly.
Fear of failure or of a bad ending can often keep us from embarking on the most beautiful of journeys. That fear is crippling. Grief can keep us from enjoying the good when the bad has occurred. Grief can overwhelm. Somedays I think fear makes this journey so much harder. Grief over the losses and failures of building a support team makes going on harder.
How many times can you wake up and think, “Can I bear another rejection letter? Another heartache?”
So fear and grief come and they rob us. They honestly rob us blind. How much life is wasted just coasting when those negative emotions are in the drivers seat? Everything true and beautiful in life takes work and sacrifice. Marrying Jake meant saying goodbye to my old life. Now in between a long hallway and two doors from the old life to the new, I find myself struggling with seeing a life in Taiwan and an old life in Florida.
Jesus told us this long ago.
“And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish. Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
Everything has a cost. And in all wiseness we need to count that cost before we start. We need to count the cost of marriage, count the cost of buying a pet, count the cost of pursuing ministry instead of a normal career. Sometimes though, fear tells us the cost is higher then it really is. Grief tells us the cost was too much. As those moments fade though, it becomes more apparent. It’s easy to say you counted the cost. But when we actually have to pay it, the panic button sets in. The cost is painful.
I will never regret those times I spent more time with Jake instead of an iPhone. I will never regret those days I spent playing with the family dog instead of watching TV. And when the journey is over, I know I won’t regret pursuing ministry.
I would regret it though if I had never married Jake because I was afraid. Or if I had never played with puppies because I hated saying goodbye. Or even if I had taken a normal journey through life knowing my heart was built for such a different course.
Sometimes we count the possible cost. We make up elaborate theories in our mind of how much this would cost and we would miss out on. We think that if we had done something different, everyday would be filled with roses and poetry. Money would fall from the sky. It would be fun, fun, fun. Yet that’s not true is it? We can reasonably see the cost of most things and the more we deny we have to pay the cost, the more we live in divergence. Trying to ignore the decisions or blame them.
“If I had never had that pet. My heart wouldn’t be hurting right now.”
But I can tell you that when you add up the good moments, the smiles and laughter, the romantic journeys. It is worth it. When you realize that storing up treasure where moth and rust destroy will amount to nothing more then a pile of things. When you pursue a costly life. We rarely count the value of what counting up the cost gets us. A truly beautiful and wonderful life. Memories that are impossible to have alone. Places that are impossible to see otherwise. Lives that are changed.
It’s worth it.
Every Marriage ends badly. That’s part of counting the cost. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. It doesn’t make marriage void or null. In fact it makes it more precious because there is a time limit. There is a finite amount of smiles and kisses this side of heaven. And that makes the value, well worth the cost.
Photos courtesy of Gian Carlo Photography