Thursday, February 16, 2012

For Saraiah

My little sister was asking me the other day if I "actually like being married."  A few weeks before that, I went to a Super Saturday event where several classes offered were on ways to make your marriage enjoyable.  Valentine's Day was two days ago, and so yes, I've had a little time to think about this.  And I just have one thing to say: WAKE UP, WORLD!  Of course I love being married!  Of course I love my husband!  Of course I am thrilled about spending this life and the next by his side!  Why in the world would I think otherwise?

Well we live in this funny world that thinks it's a good idea to plaster our minds with ideas like these:
1.  Marriages don't work--over 50% of them fail.
2.  You should try a starter marriage, like a starter home, to ease into it.  You can always change later.
3.  You're not living together?  And you think you can make a marriage work without trying it first?
4.  Men, go to work and spend your time at home focused on work so that you can find fulfillment.  Women, do whatever you can to be at your husband's beck and call, and then take care of the kids, the housework, the errands, and the bills.  And then, for heaven's sake, make yourself look like a model so that your husband is actually happy to come home to you.  No sense in trying to develop a real relationship now.
5.  Not satisfied?  Divorce is the way to go.  Or better yet--find someone else who makes you happy, but skip the paperwork and just live for the moment.

And I have a few things to say about those ridiculous notions that flog our televisions, the internet, magazines and newsstands.  I REFUSE TO GIVE IN TO THIS!  I was told all these things before I got married, time and time again.  In fact, I was told more often that marriage would be HARD than that it would be WONDERFUL.  And frankly, someone needs to smack those professors and those therapists in the head with a news flash: marriage is the greatest thing that God has given us to help us out here!  It's only hard when we make it hard--when we make foolish choices before and during marriage that end up leaving us with guilt, remorse, and trust issues.

I don't have the words to express my gratitude for an honest, affectionate, willing-to-try-anything-and-be-anything-and-share-everything man by my side.  I know without question that he is the perfect match for me...he has become my soul mate.  And I have no doubt that if he were to ever blog about the ridiculous notions of marriage in this world, he would also say the same about me.

So what do I tell my sister when she asks me if I "actually enjoy being married?"  I tell her with absolute conviction, "Yes!  I love being married, I love being eternally bound to my best friend, I love feeling the comfort that comes with seeing his face first when I wake up in the mornings.  I love feeling safe and protected--physically, emotionally, spiritually.  I love the times we are both laughing so hard we wet our pants.  And the times when we are so stressed that we just have to escape for an ice cream cone to get our minds off the problem.  And I love the tender moments we share together that only the two of us could possibly understand.  I love planning our lives together--and having it actually be permanent: a real future, not one marked by in-and-out boyfriends and heartbreaks.  I love cleaning the house together, making dinner together, shopping for groceries on a very tight budget together, playing games we've played a hundred times before--but can't afford to buy any more games because we're saving up for the future--together, staying up late to study for tests he has to take and the lessons I have to teach the next day together, waking up early to get to the temple because it's our favorite place to be together, building forts in our living room so we can feel like we're camping in the middle of winter together, dressing up for midnight movies like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games together, having our own Nerf gun wars in our very tiny apartment together, running 13.1 miles for the very first time down a very steep and very painful canyon together, graduating and applying for school and jobs and a future of promise together, staying up late (10:30!) just because we want to talk and cuddle together, attempting to make our house a home by singing and dancing and creating and laughing together...

Marriage is what keeps my batteries charged.  It keeps me confident in myself, satisfied with my life, excited about the future.  Marriage is what makes me feel such a need to do better and to be better.  It is what pushes me to serve and to love beyond the capacity I thought I had before.  Because of my marriage, my testimony is still burning and my love for others is still shining.  Could I do these things on my own?  Sure.  I did it for a long time.  But I can see now how my marriage has added a full measure of joy to my life--an entire piece of the pie I didn't realize I was even missing.

The point of it all is that alone, we would just be going through the motions.  We would certainly find joy in that phase of our lives--I don't deny that.  Life before marriage is full of beauty in its own sphere.  Following the world's standard, though, of living "without being tied down," would be miserable.

We have something different and something so much more celestial now.  Together, with nothing in our pockets but a bucket list of dreams to fulfill, we find joy that is simply divine.  It is what keeps us going, what makes us complete, what fills us with hope and faith in the future.

So do I "actually enjoy being married?"  You bet I do.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Great Gatsby

Today I am grateful for simple joys: most especially, the hug I get every night when Jordan comes home.  It's the kind of hug that envelopes me in safety and security, in peace and perfection.  I don't use "perfection" to mean flawless; instead, this "perfection" is wholeness and completeness.  I feel like the areas in which I am lacking can all be made whole because I'm not in this alone.  I have a loving spouse who not only deals with my scratches and my clumsiness, but who uplifts and inspires and reminds me that I am exactly what he wants.  And I have a loving Savior who also chooses not to just let my weaknesses slide by, but who takes me by the hand and promises to patch me up, creating something beautiful out of what I often feel is a ragged mess.  This perfection is what I experience every evening with that hug, and I am beyond-words grateful for such a small and priceless gift.

So I am teaching this great book to my juniors right now, and I have to say, it's going rather well.  And yet I'm noticing, time and time again, just how much of a "Great Gatsby" world I'm living in.  Not many people I associate with are actually that wealthy, and yet they continue to live so extravagantly that you would never guess they have thousands of dollars of debt to pay off.  It's like we're constantly searching for that "green light" in our worlds, and no matter how much we buy, how much we search, how much we turn down, we can never quite seem to reach it.  It's always just a little too far out of reach.

I'm sure I don't understand what some people's green lights are, but I think for all people, it's safe to say that happiness is what we strive for.  With all the technology, all the opportunities, and all the systems of support and encouragement that are out there, you'd think we could find it somewhere.  Really, though, I think the problem with not finding it is that people are looking too much through the fog above the water.  We've set our eyes on something so far away--not out of reach, but still, in someone else's backyard--and we refuse to recognize the fog that should be diverting our eyes to the light in our own yards.  We think, "Oh, it doesn't matter that I can't see the light too clearly.  I'm just going to jump in the water and swim around a while until I get to it."

Seriously?  Now I'm not one to say we ought to "always stay on the safe side; never take a risk."  Certainly not.  But when I look at people missing opportunities on their left and on their right just so they can shoot for the green light that only sinks them in deeper water, I just don't know what to do.  We have light--we have little drops of happiness all over the place.  And still, as a people, we continue to invest time, money, and fruitless energy on searching relentlessly for someone else's "green light."

I share this, not because I think I can change the world, but because I am trying to fight back myself.  I can find happiness in the smallest moments, in the tiniest of joys.  I've been taught this truth over and over again, and I still so often let the world convince me that I will be happy once _________ happens or once I receive ____________ or buy __________.  And so, at least for now, I'm doing my best to stop looking always at the green light through a hazy fog, but at the white light in my yard, whose light is already pouring down on me.