When Clay and I were dating, then engaged, then newly married, people used to watch us and then smile, shake their heads, and say, “You know it won’t always be like this. You just wait. He won’t always bring you flowers or make special cd’s or surprise you with dates or trips. You won’t always long to spend every minute together or talk for hours on the phone just to hear each other’s voices (not that we ever did that–I had a 30 minute time limit on the phone and I think I was the only kid that stuck to it!)” Clay and I would listen politely, then look at each other and smile and shake our heads, knowing that they were wrong. It would always be like that for us. Just because everyone else let the romance die didn’t mean that we had to be like them.
A few years of marriage went by, a few babies came, a few moves, a few trials, a few more years, a few more babies, and a few more moves and a few more trials. For the first several years, every now and then I would do a check and think, “Yep, we were right and they were wrong–nothing has changed for us.” Then over the last several months, as life got kind of crazy with five kids and church “stuff” and life “stuff” and we were both just trying to figure out how to survive each day, there started to be some moments when I panicked and thought, “No! They can’t be right! I never thought this would happen to us!” Nothing major happened, we just seemed a little more disconnected than we’d ever been before. A little more arguing here and there, a little more irritation over minor issues. A little less flowers and love notes and a little more communication gaps.
So was that it? Were all those people right? Is that just how it has to be? I don’t think so. I think we were both right. Okay, so it’s not exactly how it was in the beginning. It’s been quite a few years since we went on what I thought was just a normal date and then realized there were suitcases in the car and he was whisking me off somewhere. It’s been awhile since I wrote him one of the letters that used to come quite frequently, and I have almost completely given up on trying to surprise him with anything because it’s almost impossible. We don’t stay up late into the night watching movies or just talking. Going on an overnight trip alone now requires so much juggling and planning that it almost doesn’t seem worth it. So they were right when they said “It won’t always be like this.” How could our relationship stay the same when we have changed so much? But we were right too–it doesn’t have to grow as stale as they made it sound, and as stale as some people let it stay. Our season of life doesn’t lend itself to romantic getaways and spending lots of money on “just-because” gifts the way we did back then. But that doesn’t mean we can’t hang on to the romance. It’s just changed.
Sara Groves’ song, “Fireflies and Songs” has really spoken to me during the last little bit. The music is still here, it’s just that the song has changed a bit. The fireflies are still here, they’re just in a different spot. If I continue staring at the place we used to be, longing for the things we don’t really need, then I miss the music of our lives now. We don’t have to just drift down the road of status quo, with the space between us growing wider and wider because “it’s not like it used to be” or because “you don’t bring me flowers anymore.” Maybe it’s not flowers and love notes anymore–now it might be him coming home for lunch so I can go out with friends every now and then, or me being alone with the kids even on Saturday so he can go hunting. So I’m listening for new songs in the music of our lives. I’m looking for the fireflies in new places. And I’m finding out that deep down, we were wrong after all– it’s not the same. We thought, back then while our love was still untested and untried and life hadn’t happened yet, that things would never change. Of course they changed. And almost eleven years later, it’s not the same. No, now it’s real. Now it’s tried. Now it’s true. Now–not then–we’re finally finding the fireflies and songs. And it is more beautiful now than we ever knew it could be.
Fireflies and Songs–Sara Groves
Thirty years ago I was a little girl, riding in the back seat of the car
A woman sang, “You don’t bring me flowers anymore” and I felt a sadness in my little heart.
We’re looking for the music, in the music box.
Tearing it to pieces, trying to find the song.
I was drawn to you in ways I can’t explain. We fought like crazy but I couldn’t stay away.
Piled on expectations and lots of blame, like we couldn’t do it any other way.
We’re looking for a firefly moving through the night.
Staring at that one place, swear it never lights.
Were you surprised our hearts were not like ticking clocks with faces and hand easy to read?
We both wished “If only” in the land of Oz, longed for things we’d never really need.
Now we’re standing in the kitchen. All pretense is gone.
You kiss me on the shoulder. Fireflies and songs.