2013 was a year of weddings. That is if you were a celebrity. By the end of the year, if I read or heard one more comment, tweet or hashtag of Kate and Willliam, or the engagement of Kim and Kanye, I was going to scream.
That says a lot because I am a hopeless romantic that just loves marriage.
But illusions? They are illusions. They aren’t real. Anyone can create an illusion with a make-up artist, photoshop and Instagram.
The glitz and glamour of being a bazillionaire, (an exaggeration of millionaire) power couple running the world sounds glamorous and all but does it stand the test of time when the wrinkles sets in, the riches dwindle away, and the fame and beauty fades? Are the flashes of the camera and the heat of the spotlight still glamorous once you shut the doors to the public, wash off the makeup and take off the $500 dress? It makes one wonder.
If not the glamour, then what is so beautiful about marriage?
Marriage always has a destination but in the midst of chasing the destination, we often lose joy in the journey; the adventure. The realistic picture of marriage is that it is a perilous journey and will likely have season of walking through the wilderness, through a land not sown.
“I remember the devotion of your youth,
how as a bride you loved me
and followed me through the wilderness,
through a land not sown.” Jeremiah 2:1-3
It will be a season of character building, requiring complete trust and dependence on your spouse with the high-beams of spotlights attempting to lure you away from contentment and rob your joy. The only thing in hand may be the hand of your spouse leading you into unknown territory with a basket full of hopes and dreams. It is completely and utterly frightening but altogether lovely. There is something so beautiful about building a life together. About falling in life together. About getting back up together. About having nothing else to cling to but one another. Prosperity is wonderful thing but it also has a tendency to make you complacent and bored. When your mortgage is paid, your cabinets are full and your children are fed, you may begin to lose gratitude for what others do not have so freely.
Things like running water, shoes on your feet or a spouse to keep you warm at night. In biblical history, time and time again, like the scripture above, when the Israelites were first rescued from Egypt, they were grateful early on with their covenant to God. But the more prosperous they became the more their gratitude faded. Over and over, the spotlights that the pagans showered in was too glamorous compared to the drab life of an Israelite. Like moths to a flame they gravitated to earthly desires and abandoned the One that loved them. It wasn’t until they lost it all and were exiled, that their hearts were turn back to God.
I remember watching the Pixar movie “Up.” Carl and Ellie met as children and later were married until the day Ellie passed away. They were completely different in every area. She was bubbly and talkative and he was meek and quiet. But both had a “spirit of adventure.” It is what made them gravitate toward one another. She created an “Adventure Book” with all of the places that she would travel. They lived on humble means, in a humble home but they were rich in love. She worked as a local zoo-keeper and he sold balloons to the children. Their universal language was balloons. They were carefree, colorful and were not tied down to the pressures of prosperity. When their desire to have a family was no longer a possibility due to medical issues, they took a season to grieve but then went back to their plans of traveling. They had a jar to save every single penny but time after time, something came up causing them to have to break the jar.
After a lifetime went by and Carl finally realized that she had not been to South America, he bought plane tickets and planned to present them to her on top of their favorite hill under their favorite tree.
But she never made it up that tree. Before she passed away, she handed him her adventure book. But he never read the book, instead he spent the rest of the movie turning his home into giant hot air balloon by trying to get to the place that he had long promised her. By the end of the movie, he finally opened the book and realized that her adventure had been fulfilled through her lifetime with him. When she was physically gone, he correlated their home, pictures, and mailbox as a physical manifestation of her. But he had been her adventure. He had been so busy chasing a physical representation of her that he missed that she had already manifested in him much like when God was with the Israelites as He led them out of Egypt. No sooner than the plagues and miracles settled, that they started making graven images of him. They could not comprehend loving someone that they could not physically see.
So then like Ellie passing on her Adventure book as a reminder of all they had been through together, God had Moses create the Ten Commandments and later The Torah and then even later, what we now know as The Bible. That is our Adventure Book.
We often do the same thing as Carl. We chase possessions over people in our attempts to create and force love and adventure to be something tangible.
It reminds me of my own marriage.
Before I was married, I longed for that perfect proposal, with the perfect ring, the perfect wedding and the perfect marriage. I wanted the spotlights. I wanted to be that princess that I read about as a child especially after growing up in poverty. I wanted to be redeemed and I thought possessions would make me feel valuable. I would watch television and read headlines of celebrity weddings and turn green with envy. I never took into account that most sign prenuptial agreements before marrying and are divorced within a year.
Like Carl, I fell in love with what I saw, missing the entire definition of adventure.
I prayed to God to help me keep my focus on my groom and not the wedding. And boy did He come through. My heart would soon be tested. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. I lost my job of eight years exactly two weeks before the wedding and my husband totaled his car two days before the wedding.
I ended up settling with a $10 Goodwill dress, the wedding totaling $200, my dress ripped, the pastor was elderly and forgot the vows and presented us as husband and wife in 30 seconds. (We still make jokes that we aren’t really married) We laughed it off through the wedding because we realized that God has a sense of humor.
Before I was married, I saw adventure as my husband and I traveling to see all the wonders of the world but today, the real adventure is attempting to blend two families with five being teenagers. If that is not an adventure with lots of ups, I don’t know what is.
We walked into that wilderness with land not sown. And it was and continues to be beautiful. We may one day still travel the world, but even if we never make it that far, I can honestly say that we most definitely had an adventure.
The real adventure is daring to venture into the wilderness with absolutely no promise of prosperity, no promise of children and no promise of spotlights.
A power couple is not two strong people being on top of the world with flawless images of perfection. It is periods and seasons where one may stumble and the other has to bend down to pick them up. It is standing in the gap with no expectation of repayment or reciprocation.
Jesus used marriage and the bible as a universal language for his love for his bride, the church just as Carl used balloons, and the Adventure Book as a universal language for her love for his bride, Ellie. Neither of them came with a desire for spotlights but came with the spirit of adventure. They stepped out into hostile territory to sacrifice it all for the one that they loved.
The beauty is that a balloon can symbolize the soul ascending to heaven; a place of happiness. It can also symbolize freedom. When we choose balloons over spotlights, we choose to let go of earthly desires so that our hearts may ascend to heavenly places.
“Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” John 20:17