After our busy, busy summer, John and I spent a week at the beach together. Though we didn’t get a summer beach trip in, I’m so thankful for the more pleasant weather that a September beach trip offers. We took two mile-long walks on the beach each day and would see only one or two other people enjoying the white sands and calm surf of the Gulf.
An unencumbered schedule allowed me to appreciate the extremities between high and low tides. While engrossed in my novel, the hours ticked away until high tide inevitably rushed under my beach chair. I’d scramble to snatch up flip-flops, hats, a football and frisbee before everything floated away.
The tides marked the time, not hours. The clock in the bedroom measured high tide, calculating the hours until half tide falling, then low tide… tracking the constant ebb and flow of waves retreating in and back, marking my retreats to the beach and back for afternoon naps every day.
The day we left, I stood at the edge of the water, watching the tides go in and out. The sea rushed in between my toes, grabbing the sand beneath my feet as I sunk into my own footprints, gripping the escaping sand with my toes as the tides tried to pull me out to sea. This same pull is what draws me to the ocean.
And it’s this pull that I wanted to capture and bring back home with me. The pull toward contentment and peace. Toward fun and laughter. Toward relationships and solitude. To let the pulls on my heart determine my comings and goings.
As John and I approach our three year anniversary, the changing tides seem like a perfect metaphor for our marriage. Anne Morrow Lindbergh in Gift from the Sea says,
“…how swiftly, how inevitably the perfect unity is invaded, the relationship changes, it becomes complicated, encumbered by its contact with the world. I believe this is true in most relationships… But it is the marriage relationship in which the changing pattern is shown up most clearly because it is the deepest one and the most arduous to maintain, and because, somehow, we mistakenly feel that failure to maintain its exact original pattern is tragedy.”
Instead, the tragedy is remaining stagnant. Not changing or becoming more of who you are created to be. It’s not that the arduousness isn’t there but that you allow it to craft meaningful change in your lives and hearts together in marriage. Lindbergh continues on to say “that there is no holding of a relationship to a single form. This is not a tragedy but part of the ever-recurrent miracle of life and growth. All living relationships are in process of change, of expansion, and must perpetually be building them new forms.”
And this transformation is beautiful. Though I value and cherish our early moments in marriage, I would not trade them for the growth we’ve been blessed to experience together. One of the most fulfilling parts of our marriage is how we want to see each other change and transform into fuller iterations of ourselves. And we want to go through that process together. It is a joy to walk alongside of John as he grows into a leader at work, our church, our community. And I feel so supported by John as I develop the courage to go after the goals that have been placed on my heart.
Not that this growth process is always tidy and easy, but when approached intentionality, like the clock tracking the changing tides, this change is not only good but also beautiful.