To my daughter, Brittany and her husband, John. May you be blessed with EVERest love.
My husband thought I’d lost my marbles the day I backed into our four-wheeler in a fit of upset. And if there was ever a question of just how many marbles I’d misplaced—I backed into the four-wheeler a second time to erase any doubt.
And so I’ve found marriage to be the wildest, most enjoyably spectacular, self-denying, mind-charging, mind-blowing, and heart-changing ride of a lifetime. And like sipping tea on a speedboat, matrimony can be challenging.
But I ask you. Is there anything worth living for, dying for, or spilling tea for, that isn’t a challenge from time to time?
And isn’t the angst, the very thing that grows us into a better “us?”
In fact, a few friends and I recently discussed the mystery surrounding the climbing of the tallest mountain in the world: Mount Everest. Curious if it’s the passion, the conflict, and the conquer all rolled into one giant snowball, that propels the risk-it-all climb. And it’s only about $65,000 to climb these days. A small price to pay—I suppose. Admittedly, I’ve seen a few documentaries about this mysterious mountain, inspiring me to grab my mittens, turn on my oxygen tank, and head to base camp. Now just point me in the direction of the Himalayas, please.
I have to wander if my fingers have ever traced the lines of such reckless abandon. The day I got engaged, so struck by the view from my boyfriend’s arms, my breath broke as he slipped a thought on my finger. Not out of college yet, the decision a bit reckless—but easy at the same time.
The Passion…. Apparently, getting married isn’t as easy as it used to be though, because less people climb that peak than ever before. In 2011, the Pew Research Center found 51 percent of Americans were married, compared to the 72 percent in 1960. Financial impact one of the primary reasons for such decline.
Comparatively, more and more people ascend Mt. Everest every day. In fact, your summit can come to a freezing halt, with a traffic jam of spikes and thin puffs of oxygen waiting to have their time at the top. A continued metaphor for triumph and failure; it’s ironic, financial resources appear to be a primary reason for the increase in climbers.
So why are more people willing to risk death than fall into marital bliss? Can it be passion? Passion pushing the heart no matter the cost. It is an Everest love—for sure.
And when it comes to climbing the steep slope of love and marriage, I wander if we’ve unknowingly let go of a dream. That dream of “EVER” after. We’ve lost sight of love while we look in the mirror, allowing conflict to suffocate and our determination to fade. Enthusiasm melted like slushy water still around our feet—we settle for the view at the bottom. We refuse to climb. But don’t the best views come after the hardest climbs?
The Conflict…Climbing hasn’t been easy though. And with any adventure—a solid foundation is key. For many years my husband and I tried to maintain a healthy marriage without a base camp. A common ground from which to start. We had nothing to plant our feet upon. The conflict? Jerry could never fill the God-sized hole in my heart, no matter how much I tried to stuff him into it. My expectations and needs greater than a husband’s love. Only God who grasps forever in His hands, could fill my soul.
Our faith holding Jerry and me together all this time. Giving us a “base camp” to find rest and peace. We’ve known an EVERest love. The type of love that wills your heart to move. That keeps your eyes up, leaving you exhausted and fully dependent on the One who created the mountain itself!
The Conquer…Like a time when my father’s legs refused to navigate the incline of Alzheimer’s. I held my breath as Jerry carried a wounded hero with gentleness and strength. Helping me understand love as a choice, not an emotion. A decision to climb no matter how tough. To stay united as we conquer life together. Only then can we look down and see where we’ve come from—where we have yet to conquer.
The day our oldest daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor. An avalanche we never saw coming. Those first moments when I forgot to breathe, Jerry grabbed my hand and reminded me, “God was still good.” I needed to fill my lungs with those words. To know I might rise again someday. Fighting for our new normal, while we see pain reflected in each others eyes. Now, looking back at the imperfect trail our footsteps have left behind. The struggle. I know it’s been the angst making us into a better “us” all along.
And sure, I will probably never summit the top of Mt. Everest. I’d be lucky to puff my way to base camp and survive the climb. But I’ve seen the breathless views from the highest peak! Besides, sipping tea on a speedboat isn’t as easy as it sounds, but just as much fun! Hmmm. Now can someone please move the four-wheeler out of the driveway?
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136). NIV.