First – Happy Anniversary to my amazing and wonderful wife, Rebekah! Today marks 32 years since we launched this adventure together. Step aside, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure; move over, Mr Toad’s Wild Ride; take a back seat, The Incredible Journey. Our story is more epic by far.
In my own experience, I’d have to say that this “Life-Charged Life” I’ve been writing about gains a lot of its energy, its meaning and its vibrancy from the fact that I’m married to Rebekah. Of course, we had no idea what the next three-plus decades would look like when we walked out of the church together that day, August 18, 1979. But we did know that we were committed to taking the journey together; and honoring that decision for faithfulness has been pivotal in so many ways.
But saying we have a “life-charged” marriage is not the same as saying that the past 32 years have been easy, comfortable, smooth sailing or trouble-free. Instead it has been – and continues to be – a wonderful, difficult, passionate, challenging, rich, meaningful, beautiful, life-charged adventure.
I referenced some movies in the first paragraph. Here are some more: The journey so far has been It’s A Wonderful Life, with occasional scenes from Schoolhouse Rock, The War of the Worlds, The Incredibles, and sometimes a little Harry Potter thrown in for good measure.
I really can’t say enough about the connection between great – well cared for – relationships and a great life. But I also can’t say enough about how important it is to understand what makes a great relationship. Too many people miss out because they have no idea what a relationship either can or should be, or they abandon it without making any substantive effort, or they stay in the marriage but fail to fully invest in one another because:
- they’ve been told that the process should be easy;
- or they’ve been led to believe they should get it right the first time;
- or they never understood that “faithfulness” is about keeping all of the vows, not just the one about who you sleep with;
- or they buy in to definitions of love that are heavy on feelings, or infatuation, or control, or romance, or sex… but light on the things that count, such as commitment, and honor, and honest struggle, and kindness….
Kindness: And I really, really, really can’t say enough about kindness. I have seen the lack of kindness kill marriages beyond repair. And I’ve seen consistent, beautifully applied, long-term kindness rescue bad relationships from the brink.
Here’s a big heads-up for all those so-called “spiritual” people out there, especially the ones who like to say that God is on their side when it comes to their relationships. If Jesus really does reside in your heart, then there are some “evidences” you need to be aware of – they’re listed in Galatians 5:
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
This is the heart of 32 years together! Galatians 5:22 in the context of ongoing commitment and honest struggle.
Easy? Not on your life! Wonderful, worthwhile, life-charged, better for the 32-years of trying? You bet!
Peace, kindness, love … and all that other Galatians 5:22 stuff… – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.