In the community of marriage, we found stability that was life-giving
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove in The Wisdom of Stability
I’ve been a sojourner all of my life. I kept a count of my moves till my late teens at which point I decided that might as well stop counting. At each stop there were lessons learned, experiences had, and the shaping of a life. At the same time the more moves, the bigger the hunger to settle, to make home, and to find stability.
It is interesting talking about stability when I have vowed to be itinerant. As a United Methodist Elder I promised to go where I was sent and so far in my seven years I have done just that, I have served and I have moved in order to serve somewhere else. The one constant has been my life together with Shannon.
We were young when we decided to live life together. Some might even say naïve, others might say crazy. But we knew that we loved each other and wanted to make a covenant to live together for the rest of our lives. In an era where many of our peers were waiting to finish their studies, to settle in their careers, to be more financially stable before marriage we were indeed in the minority.
We knew that it would not be easy. Life together never is, it is difficult to give ourselves away to another, to trust, to share, to compromise, to delay dreams, and to let some go, all to live life together. It is also difficult to continue the journey of self-discovery as you are also trying to know another. It is also difficult to live a covenant of love and fidelity through what seems like constant transitions and change (in us and in the world around us).
Life together for this long takes a community of others who are also in this covenant. We have been blessed with many examples of the work and beauty that is life together. Many of those “other couples” have taught us much and have shared the journey with us. In them we have seen the possibility of continued life together when we needed it most. The struggles they shared have also helped us examined our own patterns and desires for our continued life.
I too have found the stability that I need in this covenant life. My life with Shannon is one that has helped me grow in holiness as I practice love of God and neighbor every single day. Our prayer is always that our attempts will be sanctified by the one whose presence was invoked upon us ten years ago . . .
Grant that their love for each other may reflect the love of Christ for us and grow from strength to strength as they faithfully serve you in the world.
(from a Service of Christian Marriage I in The United Methodist Hymnal, p. 864)
. . . and whose presence we still depend on to keep the promises we made.
We’ve been blessed to have lived much life in a decade. We have certainly maximized those ten years. Along the way we have experienced the holy, we have loved and have lost, we have laughed hysterically and wept deeply. We have also become more convinced that at the center of our identity as beloved’s of God is a desire to live life with another and that in that life there is the potential to a lifetime of constant conversion.
So we keep at it each day, relying on the Spirit to keep us grounded in God and in one another, knowing God’s sanctifying grace in the everyday of life, finding “life-giving” stability in our covenant life. Thanks be to God!