Last Thursday marked the 43rd anniversary of Joanna and me being married. Laughingly, we have wondered if we’ve had 43 years of growing, loving and enjoying each other…or has it been one year lived over 43 times?
Living with another person, sharing your life with another is of all gifts the highest gift of all - and at the same time the most challenging gift to fully embrace and realize in your life individually and together.
So, I wonder: how many of the 43 years were not simply repeats of the previous year or years? Gladly and with a modest amount of humility I can say that most, if not all the years we’ve had together, have grown on the experience of the past years and embraced the future with expectations of growing together and individually more with each new year.
Do I dare compare this to my relationship with God? I claim to have become a Christian when I was 22 years old and with that started a life long quest to discover who I am in this relationship with God. At 68 I ask the same question: is it 46 years or 1 year lived 46 times over and over? Certainly there have been spurts of growth and discovery in some of those 46 years - but when I read my journals from the past, I find myself struggling with the same things year after year.
My favorite writer, Fred Buechner writes about this in Alphabet of Grace:
“I say that if you want to know who you are, if you are more than academically interested in that particular mystery, you could do a lot worse than look to your feet for an answer. Introspection in the long run doesn’t get you very far because every time you draw back to look at yourself, you are seeing everything except for the part that drew back, and when you draw back to look at the part that drew back to look at yourself, you see again everything except for what you are really looking for. And so on. Since the possibilities for drawing back seem to be infinite, you are, in your quest to see yourself whole, doomed always to see infinitely less than what there will always remain to see. Thus, when you wake up in the morning, called by God to be a self again, if you want to know who you are, watch your feet. Because where your feet take you, that is who you are.”
Sometimes, I seem incapable of “getting over” who I used to be and becoming the new person I imagine God imagines me to be. Letting go of the past me to embrace the future me seems unreachable—but I’m going to watch my feet.