Thirty one years ago today, David Grubb and I had an appointment with the Justice of the Peace in Manassas, VA to say, “I Do.” We had been together for two years – love, laughter, common interests, future hope, and security, fed our relationship – and laughter, lots, and lots, of laughter. We love to laugh. Our children love to laugh. We even have a family favorite book, “They Loved to Laugh.” Sometimes its a way to avoid the tough stuff, but it’s also a great stress reliever (proven) and you can’t hate, you can’t fight, you can’t be miserable over the tough stuff when your having fun together.
We thought we were invincible back then. I thought Dave was perfect. Nothing but happiness would ever visit us. It was impossible for us to argue or disagree. I had landed my knight in shining armor, the kind of love dreams are made of. I had a reason to believe so – he was the kindest, most selfless, generous, and caring man I had ever known. I have always told people Dave is the most Christlike man I have ever known.
On Feb. 13th, 1983, an unusual snow storm similar to what just hit the northeast the last few days, dumped enough snow to leave us stranded in our home, wondering if we would miss our own wedding day. It was our before Jesus days, very much in love, but very lost. I was already divorced at the age of 22, and expecting our first (my second) child, Kacey. With a sense of urgency stemming from shame, I didn’t want to miss that appointment. Neither of us did. However, there aren’t many people who are prepared with snow plows in Virginia, and I wasn’t finding anyone who could get us out. Fortunately, my Matron of Honor sent her brother in his four-wheel drive truck to the rescue. He ran a path back and forth down our 1/3 mile long driveway packing the snow down enough to get us out.
Dressed in maternity clothes, there I stood at the JoP with my two and half year old daughter, Kristen, by my side, my handsome, kind, soon to be husband facing me. Living in a prison of shame, I spoke my vows with my head bowed to Kristen, feeling too uncomfortable before the older, southern judge, to lift my eyes to Dave’s. The judge’s countenance, and his curt words and stern demeanor, confirmed the kind of young woman I believed I was.
Thirty-three years later, with a total of eleven children, eight living, three with Jesus, one who was adopted, one tomb stone to be placed when the ground thaws – representing twenty-three years of healing and deliverance from a cult, financial losses, loss of a home, end of life care, a stillborn, two job-losses, thirteen moves with four relocation’s, too many life threatening, or painful situations to name, three church splits, four buried horses, a farm, a townhouse, five dogs buried, and… and… and… (The statistics for married couples to divorce over the death of a child is huge/ the stats of those coming from cults is huge.)
There were times that the pain of living was so great and our grieving styles (and PTSD) so different, that for a moment, just a moment, we wondered if we would make it. There were times in that pain when we did so much damage to each other – me with my cutting words, and he with his lack of words, that we wondered if those places could heal. But through it all, we never stopped laughing. We never stopped loving. We never stopped having fun, or making up, or finding our way back to each other.
We never gave up on Jesus, even though we fought like hell for years to find Him – He who had been so misrepresented, hidden in a cruel, legalistic, cult. Thankfully, He never, ever, gave up on us.
I often tell others how my Knight received many chinks in his armor over the years, and – and how much better his armor now looks for the wear. Battle weary at times, he shows the scars of battles well fought for his life, his family, and his love. He calls me “Fairest,” I call him, “Beloved,” and I wear the name permanently as a sign of my commitment that no matter what possibilities the future may have – for better or worse – he is my Beloved. When you weather the tough times, to hell and back, all you have left is “for better.” You learn to live in “the better” because the worse can always be worse.
We raised eight wonderful, talented, smart, fun-loving, and responsible children together, we’ve camped, and had bonfires; we went to more hockey games with seven in hockey than I would know how to count; we went to fencing matches, Taekwondo practices, and horse shows. Camping in Maine is our Tropical Island. Dave has always driven beater cars (usually under $1,000) commuting 30 to 60 miles, working fifty to sixty hours a week, just so our kids could have a little bit of fun, and a country home – and so I could have a reliable vehicle. We homeschooled, homebirthed, and homesteaded. We’ve done missions together, disasters, marriage counseling, and spiritual mentoring. We have helped the homeless, the widows and the orphans. We laughed, and laughed, and we’ve wept, and wept.
I didn’t occur to me until I began this blog entry, that Dave was also the first young man I had ever dated, maybe ever met, that had been raised by a Christian father. Despite his own struggles as a complete introvert, a marriage to a sick wife who died at thirty-eight and left him with three teenage children, Clarence Grubb loved Jesus. He modeled that love and kindness to his son David, who modeled that love and kindness to me. No wonder I began seeking, reading the bible, searching for Truth less than two years after marrying Dave. I was living with a lost Christ-follower, who just needed to find his way back.
Marriage is commitment – a commitment to each other, based on a commitment to Christ. It’s a friendship. It’s co-dependency – you can’t and don’t want to live without your “co.” It’s hope when it’s hopeless, strength when there’s weakness, light when there’s darkness, comfort when there’s pain. It’s Jesus – dying and rising again, so we may also.
Real love lives in the reality that all of life is grace.
If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing – not the death, or dying, the pain or loss – for it only through the taste of bitter, you truly recognize sweet, and only through sadness, that you reach the heights of joy.
Happy Anniversary Beloved. Thank you for 33 years of real life with you. In the words of the song,
“You were there when I shook my fist at the sky. You were there when I fell to the earth and cried. Do you remember how it felt just like we died and rose again? And the storm inside was raging.
It was howling like the wind at the Pentecost, and his love was teaching us a language we thought was lost. I have felt the holy fire of love, been burned by the holy fire of love. Made clean by the holy fire of love.
I walked beside you in the canyon flames, deep as an ocean and hot as a thousand suns. We barely survived. Now I wake up in a golden dream: angel voices in the rooms where the children run, all covered in light.
Don’t give up on me. I won’t give up on you.”