Our 25th anniversary came and went last month without a lot of hoopla and celebration. I posted a couple cryptic pictures on FaceBook. Our closest friends and family wished us a happy day with many more to come.
Initially I thought it should be celebrated. Really celebrated. Like stop everything this is practically a national holiday celebrated. Because at one time, twenty-five was a number I never thought we’d see. I wasn’t even sure we’d make it to eighteen and a half let alone celebrate our silver anniversary.
Twenty was celebrated. A number we also weren’t sure we’d reach. Still a little scraped up and bruised from the previous years, but healing, we headed to Las Vegas. Our place to reconnect. And it was good.
Five more years with more bumps, more bruises, more healing, more changes, and just more life. And also perseverance and growth. I thought maybe we should try to renew our vows. I thought it might be good to have a fresh start to Act 2 of our marriage. But a vow renewal didn’t seem to be in the cards. Too many schedules to contend with. Maybe a big party? With all the people who had helped us along the way. The people who came alongside us and held our hands and our hearts as we tried to piece things back together. Maybe something small – just a few of us celebrating our work and our love and our perseverance. Maybe something simple. A scenic fall hike. Our little family and our best friends (and maybe a photographer to capture it all). Maybe we could proclaim the start of the next chapter from a mountain top. And show our kids how to put the cherry on top of marriage. I know people often go away to celebrate anniversaries that can be divided by five. But I wanted our kids there too. It felt important to include them. They had lived through the tough years. Watched them happen. Listened. Learned about marriage through what they saw. And I wanted them to see it was worth it to fight for it.
But life. And schedules. And kids’ schedules. This one is free one day, but the others aren’t. Oh, nope, just kidding, now the other one isn’t free anymore either. Mandatory sports practices. School events. We kept moving and juggling, but it just couldn’t work.
In the end our 25th anniversary came and went on a Tuesday. He left for work a little late so he could bring me flowers. And I explained how the gift I had ordered for him had been delayed. Because life. Messy. Unmastered. We met that evening at our daughter’s volleyball game and cheered loud as the Jaguars stomped the other team. And I wouldn’t have changed that.
Maybe one of these days everything will line up and we’ll hike, or have a party. But as tempted as I was to be disappointed that we didn’t we get to celebrate twenty-five in a huge way, I think it’s okay. Actually it’s kind of perfect. Because at the end of the day it’s still a marriage. Our marriage. Our messy marriage. A marriage that still has some bumps. Still has some scrapes and bruises. Sometimes feelings still get stepped on. Sometimes there are still disappointments. Sometimes it gets really messy. Some days things work as planned. And some days they don’t. Some days are hard. And some days are really, really good. It’s a messy, unmastered, 25 year marriage. Celebrated big or small, or hardly at all, it’s a rather unmastered form of perfect. And that’s what makes us keep showing up every day. It’s what helps us continue to put in the hard work. What has us continuously looking to God for guidance, for His love to spill out of us and onto each other. And to keep living an imperfectly perfect, unmastered marriage. For another twenty five years. At least.
“This is My command: Love one another the way I have loved you. This is the best way to love.” ~John 15:12-13