I had always planned on getting married, and reveling in all the glory of marriage.
It was a season of life that I ached for. I remember internally bemoaning my singleness in college, and even when I was grateful for the freedom that singleness offered me, I still fought the restlessness inside of me that yearned to find my person. Where was he?!
As I'm sure many know, I did find my person, and I did get married young, and I found myself in a violent crash course that is melding two lives together. Yes, I knew it would be hard going into it, and yes, I said yes anyway, because I felt an urgency to meld our lives and not put off what I had decided to do. I was in love, but more than that, I was aware of the fact that I was acting and deciding in love, hard be damned.
Everyone said that marriage is tough, marriage takes work. Yes, I knew all that. It does. Everyone also said that marriage was the best thing ever, and that it was a perpetual slumber party with your best friend. Yes, I knew that too, and often times it does feel like that.
I knew instinctively that marriage would mold me more clearly into the person I was meant to become, and it did.
I knew that marriage would draw the selfish parts of me and refine the habits that turned me inwards, and it did.
But what I find myself refreshingly surprised at, on this three year anniversary of my marriage, is that marriage is the reality that revealed to me an undying mystery. Marriage is the vehicle that has brought me face to face with the mystery of who I am, who my spouse is, who my child is, and the real business of life.
Marriage is an invitation to enter into the ocean of transcendence, and it seems that the deeper I enter into the mystery of marriage, the closer I get to my own heart and the further outside of myself I arrive, all in the same breadth.
Because marriage doesn't just provide things for you: rather, it offers you possibilities and cliffs and valleys and suffering and intensity and truth. It extends an invitation to live deeper and love greater than you ever thought possible. It's like the saying that "God doesn't give us patience, He gives us opportunities to practice patience."
Marriage doesn't just give us happiness, it offers us a path to cultivate our own happiness.
Marriage doesn't give us hardship, it offers us opportunities to suffer with meaning.
Marriage doesn't give us joy, it gives us the ability to make blanket forts and homemade dinners and the best candid moments of our lives.
Marriage doesn't give us love, it gives us the choice to encounter love, and choose love a thousand times over in denying ourselves.
Maybe marriage doesn't give us anything at all: rather, it is the mystery that radically changes us when we allow it to. It is a bridge between who we are and the better person we strive to be, and it gives us sure footing to start the journey, only it is hundred times better because we have another hand to hold us close.
Maybe I can't say that marriage is the best thing that ever happened to me. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that marriage allowed me to see, encounter, and choose an incarnational way of living. And it is abiding in that mystery of Love that isn't just a thing that happened to me: it is, by far, the best and most lovely thing I have chosen.
"There is something amphibious about marriage, something neither fish nor fowl. It is like a three-legged sack race or a cloth-covered dancing horse, except that it is not only the feet and body but one's whole being that gets tangled up in the other person's. Marriage is not just a sharing but a mingling of identities, a consanguinity of psyches. It is a blend so intimate that it actually becomes hard to tell where one person leaves off and the other begins. People will peer and peer, for example, at a couple's offspring, trying to determine which one of the parents they resemble. Perhaps in a mysterious way what they re really trying to do is tell the couple themselves apart, to separate again what has become impossibly intertwined."