When I’m old

I saw something today that really blessed me even while it made me think. We were out for our morning romp on the beach. I was playing with a football along the shore while Gerald rode waves further out in the ocean. I saw a couple laying near the water in lounge chairs, the man on his side facing the woman, talking earnestly. Later, I saw them standing in the ocean, holding hands and quietly talking. By this time, Gerald had Hezekiah in the ocean, riding the waves. As I made my way closer to the boys, I passed near the couple. They looked old enough to be Adam and Eve, bodies wrinkled, evidence of a long life etched in their faces. Yet, their eyes sparkled and they laughed every time a wave washed over them. The three of us laughed about the cool water and agreed that it was warmer today than yesterday. I pressed on past. And as I stood there waiting for the boys to come closer, I thought about what I had seen.

The love and attention the man and woman lavish on each other was evident in every action. I imagined them standing before their pastor 60 years earlier, younger versions of themselves, vowing to stay together forever, through better, worse, richer, poorer, sickness, health. And in a flash I imagined all of the things they had seen, the pressures they had withstood, their losses, gains, joys and sorrows. I don’t know their story. I know only what I saw today – two people devoted to each other, a man and a woman who could allow the bigness of the world to shrink around them.

I want that! On August 15 Gerald and I will celebrate 29 years of marriage. In those years we’ve had many ups, downs, years of barely making it and years of plenty. There has been sadness, heartbreak, fear, anger, laughter, joy, wonder, peace, strife – we’ve been through a lot together, and often wondered if it was worth another try.  We’ve raised two children and are co-raising a grandchild. I don’t know what that couple has withstood. But I know that one day I want to stand in the ocean, holding hands as Gerald and I close the rest of the world out. And, I know, from the benefit of 28 years of marriage, counseling many married couples and teaching an on-going Sunday School class for nearly 15 years, that it will not just happen. The only thing that occurs naturally is deterioration. Anything that is not actively tended will deteriorate. Beautiful gardens become wastelands of weeds, a brand new home soon becomes a dump, a svelte body becomes a spongy mass of flesh, a relationship untended is not a relationship at all.

The result I want to see when I’m old starts with the work I do today. How about you?

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4 Responses

  1. AMEN!

  2. I looked at almost all of the pictures of you, Mr. Cox and Hezekiah while at the beach. All I could think about was….I want that!

    I am still loving everything about you and your commitment to what matters most in life. You speak so candidly about everything. It is uplifting to know that troubles are not just common to my marriage. Many times I look at others and only see the surface and I romanticize about their lives. You never see the heartache they endured to move them past their pain. The truth about any relationship is wrapped in your words “Anything unattended will deteriorate”. I just celebrated 10 years of marriage this year. Oh we have had our ups and downs (putting it nicely) but today I still love and respect the man I married. I believe he is worth it and he believes I am worth…..the love is mutual…we just don’t always agree on how to move past our pain, our many misunderstandings, and our disappointments. We do agree that love is a choice and we choose to work out that choice everyday!

    Thanks for sharing….you do great works for the Lord and you provoke love and good works from others.

    • There is so much truth in your reply that I hope people don’t skip past too quickly. Love IS a choice! We choose everyday to stay and fight for our marriages. Nobody has a good marriage accidentally. I wish someone had been honest with us from the beginning that marriage IS WORK. All of the things that make a life full can also be the things that tear us apart if we choose to let them. And, I understand about the putting it nicely. Have you found that most people really aren’t prepared to be real? It’s easy to romanticize other people’s lives. It’s another thing to decide that we’ll take the 65-80% of what we really want in a mate and do everything we can to build towards 100%. Most people throw away what someone else would kill to have! There have been times I’ve had to TAKE BACK my marriage! That grass that looks greener on the other side still needs to be watered, fertilized, mowed, weeded and sheltered from harsh elements (I’m preaching right now- can I get an amen – hahaha)! Thank you so much for taking time to respond. I appreciate it so deeply.

  3. WOW!!!! You have just left me speechless, amazed and inspired!!! Although I was not physically there to witness what you saw, your passion and enthusiasm jumped across and hit me! It was as if I was there watching the couple with you. I too, want what they have! And yet it’s not that easy. It’s one thing to say I want it and then its another when you think of the work that needs to be done to get it. I have some work that needs to be done and it ain’t gonna get done in one day, but it starts today with me chosing to have a great marriage and doing the work to build it! Thanks for sharing and inspiring!

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