July 7, 2017

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Make faith a part of the valleys, mountaintops of love

Patti LambRecently, a friend showed me a picture that one of our mutual girlfriends posted on social media.

It was a flattering picture of her and her husband in Hawaii celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary.

They were tan, the scenery was gorgeous, and they clinked glasses in the photo. Below the shot, they added a comment: “Cheers to ten years!”

I was genuinely happy for our friend, although I might’ve been a bit envious. The beautiful couple made 10 years look entirely enchanting.

Fast forward a few weeks to our family vacation in Florida: On day two, I tripped over an open suitcase on the floor of our tiny hotel room and gracefully landed on the corner of a granite coffee table, breaking two ribs.

The pain was intense, and I asked my husband to take me to the closest medical facility. He quickly researched and told me it was worth the drive to a facility with better ratings. Before we left, he carefully ushered me to the bathroom, which was a humbling experience. After our visit, the doctor confirmed two broken ribs and sent me home with a medicine that I quickly discontinued due to adverse side effects.

During the days that followed, my husband did his best to comfort me. He continually adjusted the pillows and dispensed ibuprofen. One afternoon, when the pain was the worst, he grabbed my hand and said a prayer for me. He even brought me chocolate when I didn’t ask.

When I berated myself for my clumsiness, he consoled me.

The situation caused me to realize that, sometimes, life’s valleys have a way of connecting us more than its mountaintops.

I recall the words of St Paul: “… power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12: 9).

In those days, I acknowledged how I loved my husband even more than the day I married him, and I honestly didn’t think that was possible.

A week ago, my family attended a beautiful wedding. During the homily, the priest told a meaningful story: A father and his young son walked through the park and the boy saw a couple sitting on a park bench. The young man had his arm around the young woman. The two were good looking, well-dressed and laughing. The little boy said, “Dad, that couple is in love.”

The father and son continued walking through the park, and eventually encountered an elderly man pushing his wife in a wheelchair. The man leaned on the wheelchair as if it were a walker supporting him. The father then stopped the son and pointed out the couple.

“Son, that couple is in love,” he said to his boy.

The story captured the fact that love isn’t glamourous. Love isn’t always rainbows and roses and photos from Maui.

Real love is hard. It takes work. It means staying when it would be easier to go—because you made a promise. You’re not alone in that promise, though, because it’s blessed by God.

Now I’ve had a few friends whose marriages have ended in an effort to protect themselves or their children and not by their own volition. That’s a different story.

But to those for whom marriage is simply lackluster, without trips to exotic destinations, anniversary bands and romance, hang in there. Marriage isn’t always bliss and ease. I’m learning that valleys have a way of leading to mountaintops—when faith is employed.

Love grows in the strangest circumstances. And even ordinary days are rich with blessings—if you look closely.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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