“I’m not sure we knew what we were signing up for”
24 years ago today, June 13th, 1992, Lisa and I rode off into the sunset following our professing our vows to one another. Looking back on this day, like many of you I anticipate, I’m not sure we knew what we were signing up for. Dating all through high school and college, we had all the dreams of raising a family and living the American Dream. And, like many, we discovered that fantasy land and reality do collide at points in our lives. Thankfully, we’ve had a solid foundation to come back to in these times.
Yes, even though we’d been together for 7 years prior, the first 6 months of marriage were difficult. Back in the day, I struggled seriously with a need to control and had to have things my way. As I went off to work every day not knowing what time I’d be home for dinner, Lisa found herself away from home in a new area where she knew no one and was sitting in an apartment most of the day. For someone who would likely tell you she already was wrestling with her identity, the isolation and loneliness going with this time period wasn’t helpful. And, when I arrived home, do you think I even thought to have compassion for my bride? Oh, no, not King Arnold! I sat down on the couch with my expectations of being fed off the “grapevine”. Some may laugh, however, this likely isn’t too far from the truth!
Looking back on these days, Lisa would be the first to tell you that we’re thankful we lived so far away from home. Rather than our being able to run back to our family or places we were familiar, we had to figure it out on our own. While it hasn’t always been as challenging as how I’ve described the first 6 months, this is life and many of you know marriages don’t always weather the storms of life. Thankfully, ours has weathered many of these storms and, while I would never take it for granted, I don’t ever wake up wondering if this will last a lifetime.
So, what’s the secret? Well, early on in marriage, I’d likely tell you it was similar to what I wrote about my parents in “This is my solemn Vow”. We took our vows seriously and weren’t going to give up. Lisa likely gets more of the credit than I in this area. My being consumed with my career, I likely didn’t know how bad it really was at times. I’m very thankful for her perseverance.
That being said, the real secret is more about our firm foundation in Christ. While this too has gone through periods of growth and challenges, it truly has been “the secret” which again is mostly credited toward my bride. Yes, it’s Lisa that was modeling “the power of a praying wife” as she resisted to the temptation to become the spiritual leader of our family. For years, Lisa was praying that God would capture my heart and I would step up and lead our family in a God honoring way. Then, with a job loss in 2008, God began to answer these prayers.
Yes, in 2008, the guy that thought he was “in control”, lost control and began to discover how much he really didn’t control in this world. It was at this point, I began to turn my eyes toward the one who ultimately is in control of everything, our Heavenly Father. If you’ve ever been associated with Christ-centered marriage counseling, you’ve likely heard the analogy of the triangle. At the peak of the triangle is Christ. At the corners of the base of the triangle are the husband and wife. What counselors typically share in this exercise is that we tend to want to focus on one another or even ourselves when working through marriage challenges. However, it’s when we both set our eyes upon Christ, we naturally grow closer together. Referring to the triangle, as we individually get closer to the peak (Christ), the base or distance between us is shortening. This is what has happened in our marriage which is why I now never doubt it’s lasting a lifetime.
Now, for some of you, this is likely a bit too cliche’. You’re likely looking for some practical wisdom of what focusing on Christ changed in our lives. Well, scripture talks about a sanctification process where God transforms one’s hearts. As we begin to focus on Him, the Fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control) become more present. Things that used to be important from a self-centered standpoint have transformed more in the direction of a unity or oneness in our marriage. Rather than my having a career, it’s transformed to “our having a calling” upon our life. Rather than Lisa raising the kids, it’s transformed to “our leading our family” together. Rather than how others can meet our needs, it’s transformed to “how can we serve each other and those around us”. No, it’s not roses and butterflies every day all the day long; however, it is much of the day!
So, on this day of 24 years of marriage to my bride, Lisa Marie Burton Arnold, I’m once again thankful. I’m thankful that Christ is at the center and we’re both surrendered to His leading. I’m thankful that you persevered in times others wouldn’t have and hopefully are now experiencing the fruits of your labor. I’m thankful for how we’re now on a journey together more so than ever in our lives. And, I’m excited about what’s just around the bend and we’ll be celebrating one year from now! May we have another 24+ years ahead of us with great joy!
Happy 24th Anniversary, Lisa! Love you Babe!
Always and forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, etc.