So yeah—- yeah, our mattress sags in the middle.

You can see it, even when the sheets are pulled up taut, how the springs at the centre have been cratered by the sheer weight of glory, like how after a fire, there’s an impression left in the earth. 

This is a man and a woman becoming one. 

Some would say this has been the boring, every day love of us.

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How many times have I forgot to shave my legs? He said it never mattered.

My waist thickened and rolled and softened, stretch-marked thin over this love of ours that grew me larger with all these kids.

My sagging, rounded mother body wears it like a badge: I’ve surrendered to love in a thousand ways.

It’s been decades of this, us there in the dark:

We roll to the middle of the mattress, he and I, finding each other in the valleys.

Who knew that every valley is being held in the valley of cupped hands?

There have been too many of those valleys to count.

The nights after my dad died, the nights after his mother died. We clung quiet to each other in the middle, the springs sagging silently under us, the words scraped raw from the sides of us.

And yeah, sure, we’ve felt it too, in the hollow of some awful nights, laying there in the middle of the mattress, in our own valley of dry bones:

We married wrong.

Don’t buy what anybody else is selling:  Everyone always marry wrong.

Because what’s wrong in the world is always us.

Marriage and love and time, these are the enormous forces that inevitably chisel and change us into strangers. The springs sag. Mattresses sigh. Marriage changes us into strangers who have to meet and introduce each other to love all over again.

None of us ever know whom we marry. 

And falling in love never made anyone angels… falling in love only eventually makes it clear how far we’ve actually  fallen.

Who we say ‘I do’ to —  is not who we roll over to touch twenty years later.

The promise of the vows is to keep finding a way fall in love with the stranger to whom you find yourself married.

The vows are a vow to make the new stranger you’ve long been married to — feel the intimacy of an old and known love everyday.

Every pillow on the other side of the bed needs the note:

You can change, but nothing will change how I see you as my rarest gift. 

Your dreams burn in my heart too, and where life’s burned you, I’ll heart graft from my heart to yours and we can be healed together, stronger.   

And whomever you become, I’m always coming looking for you, I’m always coming for you, to be with you.  

This is the only way we ever become the right people to be married to.

And though he has been smacked by my flaws, slack-jawed by my flaws, and it ain’t at all been Hallmark pretty. It’s been holy.

The real romantics know that stretchmarks are beauty marks, and that different shaped women fit into the different shapes of men souls, and that real romance is really sacrifice.

So after he’s been up before 5 am, fed a couple hundred mama sows, taken care of more than a couple of hundred baby pigs, loaded a truck of wheat, blown out the farmyard of snow, picked up groceries when he’s got tractor parts in town, worked in the barn tonight till after 7:30, after he’s read from 2 Timothy to us around the dinner table —

I slip back into the kitchen after fitting clean sheets on a bed, to find him standing there at the sink.

Standing there doing up the last of the pots and pans.

I could weep for a quiet redeemed love like this, the kind of love they don’t write movies about, but the Maker writes down in a book of His own.

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It doesn’t matter one iota what the checkout glossies tout: Sacrifice is the most attractive of all.

And there are women who have loved men as the hero-of-few-words who have rescued them day in and day out, without any fanfare or flash.

There are men and women who have lived and bore the weight of it: “I am far worse than I ever dreamed. And yet you have loved me beyond what I could ever dream. You have lived Gospel to me.

The guy buying chocolates for the lady who lost it with him last week (uh yeah, that would be he and I), well, we’re finding the Way:

Love, without Truth, isn’t reality— it’s sentimentality.

And Truth, without Love, isn’t sustainable —- it’s terminal.

Real Love truthfully sees the flaws — and still really loves fully.

Love isn’t blind — Love is the only way of really seeing. There are men who have loved women real.

And regardless of how he changes, how I change, how everything can change or nothing might change at all:

The reward of loving is in the loving; loving is itself the great outcome of loving. 

The real success of loving is in how we change because we kept on lovingregardless if any thing else changes. 

The value of loving is not what we get out of it; the value of loving is always in being like Christ.

And maybe that is how real people always make real love — they vulnerably keep opening their arms and heart wide open to each other, to fully know and receive and embrace each other — like very Love Himself formed Himself into the embrace of a Cross. 

The only ones who get to escape the doom of the star-crossed lovers are the Cross-formed lovers. 

So yeah, yeah — so what if the mattress sags and gives way in the centre?  The self-centredness of the two can give way to this rolling down into the middle and into a glorious one.

He and I entangled in these romanced cotton sheets of an old and practiced grace.

*****

Want to Spark a Great Date Night with a Valentine’s Video to Watch this Weekend?

Fire up some tender romance this weekend? The Farmer and I are sharing, in Episode 2 of our 6 part video series, The Way Through with the Voskamp Familydropping today! And every Friday for the next 5 weeks!more of our story, the good, the hard, and 5 Secrets to Falling in Love Again!

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