Putting each other first in every stage of life

By the time you read this article Karen and I will have celebrated 36 years of marriage and as I write these words I realize how far into the fourth decade of our life together we are!

When we embarked on our journey of marriage all those years ago we were inspired by the words of the poet, Robert Browning who wrote:

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be…

It wasn’t a pipe dream that we shared. We had a genuine desire expressed through our marriage vows to continue to grow in our love for each other through every stage of life.

And there have been many stages!

There were the early years where we did not have much money but somehow (with God’s help!) we managed to get by.

Then came the parenting years where we learned to juggle work commitments with the demands of growing children as well as carving out time for ourselves.

Navigating the teenage years was never dull. Everything from staying up until 2.00am, waiting for your child to get home from camp, he or she having driven there for the first time, through to meeting the young man who would like to date your daughter. (Always an interesting experience!)

Then suddenly, you find that all of your children have either married or left home and you enter the phase known as “empty nesters”. I have learned that this term is actually a myth because grandchildren start arriving and they all seem to find their way to Gramps and Grammy’s house!

Our nest is rarely empty these days!

Here’s the thing. I can honestly say that I love my wife more deeply now than I ever have and she can say the same about her feelings for me.

I do not say this to boast or to gloat.

Because of the nature of my work I come into contact with many marriages where couples are living lives of “quiet desperation” and there is no sense at all of deep connection with each other.

The last thing I want to do here is to give the impression that we have it all together, because we do not.

So despite our imperfections, why can I say that our love continues to grow?

The following thoughts come to mind.

From the outset of our marriage we decided that after God, the most important relationship in our lives was our marriage.

We love our children, grandchildren and our friends. But none of those relationships has ever taken precedence over ours. (This also includes our work life).

Far too many relationships come to grief because couples pour all of their energy into these other areas only to realize, too late, that when these are gone, they are left with a husband or wife that they barely know.

We have made time for each other.

Whether it was time at the end of each day catching up with each other or going out together, quantity and quality time as a couple has been a priority for us and we reap the benefits of this today.

We have also prayed together.

This has become a sharper focus for us in more recent years and we have found through sharing with each other about what God is doing in our lives, our intimacy has grown deep.

Praying for each other about “life stuff” always enhances intimacy.

Simple things like these have enabled us to walk the path happily of growing old together.

It can happen for you as well and it doesn’t mean that you have to do what we do. Discover what will work for you and above all, start doing it!

Because Robert Browning was right – the best is yet to be!

Father’s love and affirmation is vital

davidmeece

SINGER-SONGWRITER David Meece has produced some profoundly moving songs over his long career, many of them telling the story about his struggles with his self-worth.

If you have ever attended a Meece concert you will know that he intersperses his music with deeply personal illustrations about growing up in a family with an alcoholic father.

One of the most powerful of these is when he tells of the night that his father, in a drunken rage, drove the family car through the wall of David’s bedroom.

His father staggered out of the wreckage, held a shotgun to David’s head, stared into his eyes and said, “You’re worthless…”

When David Meece recounts this story he points out that those words were more devastating to him than had his father actually pulled the trigger.

You can hear the pain that it caused Meece through his song, When I was Seventeen:

My daddy left home when I was a kid
Said he had to move on
He took the bottle as his only friend
I didn’t know why, I didn’t know why

Mama tried to do the best that she could
But she just didn’t understand
All the confusion I was feeling inside
I didn’t know why, I didn’t know why

Feeling so alone
How I wish back then I’d known
When I was seventeen

From study hall to the senior prom
I felt like no one at all
And just a shadow in a crowded room
I didn’t know why, I didn’t know why

David Meece carried the scars of his father’s deadly words for years and despite his fame and success as a musician, they crippled him.

And many of you reading this column right now can relate to Meece’s pain.

But then something brought a radical change to Meece’s heart. He discovered the deep, deep love that God had for Him.

He discovered he wasn’t worthless but precious in God’s eyes.

He discovered what many others have discovered – that God loved him for who he was and that He called him “son”.

David Meece discovered that God was his Father and that he would never be rejected by Him.

In his song, My Father’s Chair, he contrasts the love of his Father God with the abandonment that he felt from his earthly father:

Sometimes at night I’d lie awake
Longing inside for my father’s embrace
Sometimes at night I’d wander downstairs
And pray he’d returned, but no one was there.
Oh, how I’d cry, a child all alone
Waiting for him to come home.

My father’s chair, sat in an empty room
My father’s chair, covered with sheets of gloom
My father’s chair through all the years
And all the tears I cried in vain
No one was there in my father’s chair.

Sometimes at night I dream of a throne
Of my loving God, calling me home
And as I appear, He rises and smiles
And reaches with love to welcome His child
Never to cry, never to fear
In His arms, safe and secure.

My Father’s chair sits in a royal room
My Father’s chair holds glory beyond the tomb
My Father’s chair, my God is there
And I am His eternal heir
Someday I’ll share my Father’s chair.

Study after study reiterates that a father’s love and affirmation is vital for the healthy emotional development of a child.

Many of us understand the feeling of being abandoned by our natural fathers.

And the scars and pain of this loss can be carried well into our adult years.

But here is good news!

God longs to be your heavenly Father and when you turn to Him in simple trust and faith, He accepts you as a treasured son or daughter.

You can be His much loved son or daughter –now that is reason to celebrate this Father’s Day!?