The word covenant has been interrupting my thought patterns recently, as surely as the living out of it has been interrupting my “regularly scheduled life.” After nearly 25 years in a marriage covenant, I’m still an active participant in this binding agreement with my husband, and sometimes this agreement leads me to acts of service that are… well, messy.
As an excavator/contractor/floor-covering specialist/jack-of-all trades, my husband’s range of employment in any given week is quite diverse, and because this is the busy season, Jon has been running himself on nearly 15-hour workdays. Since he has yet to figure out the DNA secret to cloning himself, this week has also been one where I have stepped into the title of “administrative assistant” (which sounds much more prestigious than the less glamorous title of “gofer”). I have literally placed myself at Jon’s disposal, dropping whatever I’ve been working on to aid him in running errands. Driving places, fixing meals, mowing lawns, loading and unloading tools, planting a garden for his friend, completing paperwork, filling fuel containers, digging mud from backhoe tires… In short, I’ve allowed my husband’s needs to take precedence over my own.
Which could very well be the key to a marriage covenant. Or any other convent that is lasting.
Allowing another’s needs to take precedence.
Let’s face it, sometimes we do not care for others well. Instead, we attempt to serve others according to our own needs. In ways that we prefer, even when those ways are not particularly helpful. Too often we remain unwilling to do what the occasion truly calls for.
Yesterday, my marriage covenant called for me to get messy as I worked alongside my husband to remove a clay-like substance from his backhoe. (FYI: Digging sticky pond clay from a backhoe is not the typical romantic setting we ladies dream of, but after 25 years together, my husband has yet to figure that one out. Which could be the reason for the soft shovel pat across my rear while I was bent over prying mud with a crowbar. Lucky for him my crowbar was firmly stuck in the mud.) But I digress.
Sometimes covenants call us to messy places. Places far removed from candlelight dinners and flowers.
But places that hold us together for the long haul.
As much as I hate to admit it, more often than not, it is in the less-than-glamorous places of our marriage where we have found love growing the most rapidly. In the movies, it’s all about the wooing and winning, the wining and dining, the romance and the ambiance of magnificent sunsets. In real life, covenants are sealed in the trenches of shared labor, unselfish motives, and a lot of sweat and tears. I’ve come to find that my heart is knit more strongly with Jon’s when I’m working alongside him in the dirt to help lighten his load than when I’m dressed to the nines and seated across a candlelit table for two.
The truth is, my husband loves me messy. He loves me when I’m serving him in my tiredness – as attested to by the haircut I gave him and the grilled cheese sandwiches I prepared, both after 9 p.m. (those who know me well can appreciate that sentiment). He loves me when I follow him outside after a much-needed shower and sit beside him in the gathering dusk. When he looks at me with my messy hair, and comments on how pretty it is. In complete sincerity. And after 25 years, I find myself falling in love with him a little more. Simply because I love the fact that he loves me in all my messiness.
And I can’t help but wonder if maybe I win his heart a little more fully each time I’m wiling to serve him in this mess of daily life. When I come alongside him and allow myself to be stretched to do those things I’d prefer got done on their own.
When I love him enough to get messy…