It’s the little things.

This Wednesday Moz and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We were both 19 years old when we married, high school sweethearts.

Now I know that not all marriages that start out that young can hold together. It’s quite a difficult thing. I wouldn’t say that we knew who we were when we got married. I have learned quite a bit about myself since then. And we have learned a lot of lessons together.

I thought I’d tell you one lesson we learned early on. I don’t think it applies just to marriage either, so I’ll tell you how I think it applies to the rest of life.

It’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek lesson. Not to be taken too seriously. But at the same time, there’s a little bit of truth in it.

So, are you ready? Here it is:

Everything is worth one point.

It mostly applies to what Moz does for me, rather than the other way around. Here’s how it works:

If Moz buys me flowers, that’s one point.

If he does the washing up – one point.

If he buys me a new car – one point.

If he books us on a cruise – zero points, he should know by now that that’s not the holiday I would choose. (I just put that one in to throw you off.)

Chocolate – one point.

And so on.

The size or value of the gift doesn’t matter, I just need a steady stream of little things to feel loved.

If Moz chose not to show me his love in little ways, but instead bought something big like a house or car and then thought his job was done, the marriage wouldn’t last very long. It’s the little things that really matter.

Sometimes we think that we need to do something really big to make our lives matter. We need to start a non-profit organisation, do some research that once-and-for-all-time cures cancer, write a best-selling and life-changing book, win the gold medal at the olympic games. We think that if we don’t manage something big like that, that we are not worth very much.

I wonder whether life works more like our one-point rule. It’s the little things, the constant little choices that we make that add up to who we are, that give our lives value.

It’s the smiling at the check-out-chick, even if she’s super slow and packs our eggs on the bottom. It’s the choosing to put our rubbish in the bin. It’s remembering birthdays and sending a little card. It’s holding back on our hurtful comments even though someone in the internet is wrong.

The Good Book puts it like this:

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.

(1 Corinthians 13 The Message)

I hope that Moz and I remember to show love in the little ways this year. And I hope you do too.

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Family

I’ve been doing a little reminiscing lately.  The middle of January always has that effect on me. I reminisce about previous wedding anniversaries and birthdays, and I take stock of my life and make goals for the year. It all happens in January and I think it’s a good thing.

DH and I were still teenagers when we got married. If we were the type to just move in together, I guess that’s what we would have done, but because living together for us required marriage, and because we were ready to make that commitment, we made it! I’m still not sure how my parents were able to cope with that, especially seeing as DD is now older than I was when we got married. But for us, it was the right thing to do. It hasn’t meant that life has been easy or that we haven’t had our ups and downs. I guess the challenges that come with a young marriage are slightly different to those that come when you marry a little older, but every marriage comes with challenges, as does every commitment. We’re very grateful to have come this far, to have made it over some significant hurdles, and to still be in love and committed to each other.

When we got married, we wanted our reception to be a party that reflected us, who we were and how we felt. And, maybe because we were so very young, we didn’t really see why we needed to invite all the aunts and uncles to celebrate with us. My mother is one of six children and my father is one of five and each of those had married and had children. At the time of our marriage DH had five living grandparents, let alone aunts, uncles and cousins. So, yes, a lot of family to invite and we couldn’t really see the point – we didn’t see these people very much in our daily lives, we just happened to be related to them. (Stay tuned wider family, the story gets better, don’t get upset yet!) We just wanted our wedding reception to be a party, and we could have that easily with the friends we had gone to school with, the friends we saw every week or every day.

But there was a problem. DH’s best friend happened to be my cousin. Obviously you can’t invite one cousin without inviting them all. It just wouldn’t be right. So we bit the bullet and invited everyone.

I still remember one night when we were working on the invitations and the cry went up (possibly from Mum) ‘Oh no! We haven’t invited Great Uncle Tom!’ Dad raced upstairs to print out another invitation while DH stood in the middle of the room, a look of confusion on his face, and asked, ‘Who is Great Uncle Tom?!’ he had never met my great uncle, and could not for the life of him understand why we should invite this person. The rest of us knew that he had to be there. He said grace for us at the reception – he’s a pretty big man in our family, very important, just doesn’t live nearby and we don’t see him very often. (Less now that he’s in heaven).

So there you go, all the family was invited, all the family was there. And you know something? I am so grateful now that that was the case! I have thought about it often. The relationships I have with my aunts and uncles and cousins are so special to me, so important. I am so glad that I didn’t unthinkingly leave them out of such an important occasion in my life. I am so glad I listened to my parents and invited everyone. How awful if we had missed that opportunity!

I wonder if the understanding of the importance of family grows with everyone as they get older? Is this the reason that retirees research their family tree? The reason that adopted children go to such trouble to find out who their birth parents are? I can tell you, I am not getting to know my wider family just so as I can tell some surgeon sometime that this illness I have is because so-and-so had cardiac problems, or tuberculosis, or mental health issues. There is no real logic to it, it’s just a desire, a necessity. It’s a bit like having children – there’s no logic there either, but it’s something that many of us just feel we have to do! You could blame it on genetics, or my personality type or an evolutionary necessity. I just know that this connectedness is important to me, these people are super special and I’m grateful to be part of a large loving family.