We went away to the Outer Banks for our third anniversary and it was windy and cold and cozy. There are a number of wonderful things to be said about the charming bed and breakfast we stayed at, but here's the main thing: they knew instinctually that a couple of coffee drinkers such as ourselves would require a pot delivered to the room before coffee at breakfast.
It's nice, to feel so understood.
Mittened bike rides were taken to the lighthouse, books read, kayak rides contemplated until we realized we valued our lives too much to risk getting thrown out into the waves and eaten by a shark before dying of hypothermia. We ran out to the dock at night with blankets thrown over our heads like idiots, just to peek up at the starts before hurrying back for more coffee. (The innkeepers must know addicts when they see them; they informed us every time a new pot was brewed.)
On our second night, after watching It's a Wonderful Life in our room and drinking champagne out of the plastic cups they put by the sink, as one does, I thought I'd open up the reflection discussion. You know. I consider the reflection discussions part of my wifely duty.
Reflections, of course, on our third year of marriage, how we fell infinitely deeper in love, how we began to understand one another on a deep, emotional level that was perhaps strong and true enough to fuel the raging sea outside our window, love and passion crashing together like thunderous November waves.
Mostly I was trying to think of the high points of the year.
There were memorable moments, of course. The fancy dinner at that restaurant. A few trips here and there. A little mischief here and there.
But surely, surely there was something important we accomplished in our marriage. Some way we grew and changed and helped make each other better people.
"Um. We watched all eleven seasons of Cheers."
That was our big accomplishment, watching Ted Danson age over the course of eleven years.
This was a bit depressing, even after the emotional song and dance of It's a Wonderful Life. (Good thing we hadn't chosen Rear Window instead; what can I say, I have a married lady crush on Jimmy Stewart.)
Had we really gone an entire year without changing in epic ways? Are we entering the years when you just sort of coast? My gosh, is THIS is why people have kids?
I did some solid, internal fretting for a good fifteen minutes.
And then I looked around our room, which we had only inhabited for a couple of days but was already starting to look so much like us - the stacks of books, the scattered coffee mugs, the empty champagne bottle, the weird jar of coconut oil we use as toothpaste. Simple, everyday stuff.
And I realized there was so much ordinariness this year, in the midst of boredom and sometimes chaos. I didn't have a steady job for most of the year; Trevor worked two. It was confusing and hard at times, and we didn't have a lot of room to take epic leaps and bounds in our marriage. We had maybe two hours on a Monday afternoon.
So maybe this year was mostly about staying sane and still liking each other. Maybe the grace that spurred us on was in the repetition of just doing the next right thing. Giving back rubs after a long day, making each other those boring old scrambled eggs every morning. Coffee with our friend Brittany every Tuesday, who made us laugh and taught us the pure joy that comes in walking with the Lord. The afternoons at the park, me on my unicycle, him running beside me, high-fiving each other every once in a while, a silent acknowledgement that we probably looked like a couple of circus freaks.
The dinners made together, the Target trips, redbox. Him jumping my car every time my battery died, me waving my hands around like a demented old woman and acting like I had no clue how this could have happened, again. Dinners with friends. White sheets and road trips and the farmer's market. Avocados.
I bet a thousand little things happened that grew us and shifted our marriage and edged us a little bit closer to Christ. Like those moments that seem so ordinary - lunches in the cafeteria - until you look back ten years later and suddenly that part of your life looks like a freakin' Russian novel, each detail and character rushing the story forward to a dramatic conclusion you simply couldn't have seen at the time.
Maybe it's not for us to know, now. Maybe it's enough to trust God with the big stuff and to keep on keepin' on in our little appointed tasks. Maybe I'll go ahead and throw the chicken in the oven for him, before he comes home, and ask God for another year of love, of grace.