Celebrating

Tomorrow Joel and I will celebrate our 18th anniversary. I guess I am really getting old…In one more year I will have spent half of my life married to my sweetheart. I will be traveling up to Jesup tomorrow so we can spend the day together. I am so thankful to have family who will keep the kids for me, so Joel and I can log some one-on-one time. I can’t wait.

This milestone, understandably calls to mind so many other years, so many memories. Like the day we started dating,  and the moment we both said “I do.” Or our first anniversary when we were no longer “newly weds” and we forgot to eat our frozen cake top! (I wonder how many people actually remember to eat it!) And our tenth anniversary when I thought he had forgotten and at bedtime he gave me the emerald ring I’d been ogling at the mall for months, and, of course, two years ago when we spent our first anniversary of his incarceration apart.

I remember clearly in the first few months of our present reality when people would ask me how I was doing and I didn’t really know how to answer. I was in pain, raw, unadulterated, terrific pain.  No matter how much I carried on with the duties of every day life, no matter how “together” I appeared, I was living in the constant agony of unrelenting pain. And I really did not know what to say when it was clear that they expected me to say the pain was getting better. I remember saying to my sister that in some ways it only got worse, because the longer we were apart the more of eachother’s lives we were missing. And I wondered how much worse I could take. So no matter how bravely I answered, no matter how much I wanted to allay the concerns of these inquirers, in my heart I wondered if the agony I felt would ever relent.

Now as we face another anniversary, I’m given the chance to look back and see all the ways that God has been healing us, even though our circumstances haven’t changed logistically. The despair on that first anniversary sought to swallow me up. The waves of panic at the realization I was just at the beginning of this long journey nearly engulfed me. But God has a way of rescuing us, redeeming us, even when we do not fully comprehend it.  God’s work in our life has been a catharsis so that even though the pain is still real, and the loss is still catastrophic, the agony no longer threatens to consume.

By His grace, God is making us more than conquerors, and in the process He is mitigating our pain. The pursuit for succor has ended. The pursuit of God engulfs, and we celebrate!


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