Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wonder of wonders

I thought for a very long time that I would never marry.

Most of the reasoning behind that belief was that I grew up in what we now call a dysfunctional family. (Though the fact that all five children went to college and sometimes beyond, and that none of us ended up in great trouble is a tribute to my mother's great grace in functioning under very difficult conditions) But my father's addiction to alcohol, and the resulting difficulties, did not give me a good role model of a husband and father.

In God's wisdom, I met the Miller family when I was in college, and was blessed to be in the presence of two people who did, indeed, provide a model for me of what a relationship built on love and trust might look like, sound like, be like. Nancy confirmed for me what I saw in my mother, and Robert helped me to understand that a father could be both loving and just, could have high expectations and even greater compassion. And because they were not a perfect couple, I was able to learn that words spoken at a wedding only took on flesh and blood in the struggles as well as the passion of marriage, in the fallow times as well as times of harvest. And because Nancy, Robert, John, Margaret, Helen, and Francis accepted me despite all my imperfections, I began to think that maybe, just maybe I could have such a life.

But I was still surprised when Bonnie said 'Yes'. And despite marrying a guy who didn't have a clue as to what he was going to do when he grew up; despite getting into a relationship with a fellow who lost his job two months after the wedding; despite moving ten different times in nine years; despite riding shotgun on that rollercoaster called ministry; despite the heartache, the brokenness, the struggles with Teddy, it continues to be a source of wonder that she has never asked to have that word back.

She has been the yin to my yang, most assuredly,
and she has been the Martha to my Mary,
the Hardy to my Laurel,
the Leo McGarry to my Jed Bartlett,
the Bert to my Ernie.

And more . . .

in her unconditional forgiveness for my stupid mistakes, she reminds me of how much God loves and accepts me; in her commitment to and love for all those forgotten by the world, I hear Jesus' call to serve the lost, the last, the little, the least; in the graceful way she puts up with my procrastination and repeated assurances that I will get that job done, don't worry, the Spirit breathes hope and peace into my life each and every day.

Thirty years ago today, Bonnie said "I do" - and wonder of wonders,

she still does.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

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