Six years ago we made our vows.
Each year since, I've taken a minute (or sixty) to write down my thoughts about that day, or the previous year, or life and love and marriage and hope in general. Today won't be any different. Except I couldn't figure out what to write about. I didn't want to just repeat stuff I've already said. And last year...well, I said it really well. I half wanted to just say 'DITTO TO LAST YEAR' and call it a day. So despite thinking (and mildly stressing) about it all week, as of yesterday morning, I still hadn't figured out what to write about.
So we went on our little 'anniversary adventure' late yesterday morning. We'd decided to check out Treetop Quest, a 'treetop obstacle course and ziplining' place in a nearby city. I don't know what sparked our desire to go spend a day doing this, other than the fact that we're on a 'do fun stuff' kick lately, and this seemed like it might be fun.
We took a quick class where they got us all strapped up and showed us how to use the various pieces of our harnesses/caribiners/things I don't remember the names of, and then we were off to conquer the 5 different courses on our own. Don't worry, there were always staff people nearby to offer assistance (or climb up and rescue you, as we saw one girl take 'em up on).
And here's what I realized as I bravely fought my way through the course (you knew a metaphor was coming, right?): this is just like marriage.
It sounded like it would be fun. There were a lot of great opportunities for photos. And the first few things were fun and easy. But then there were hard things. And then it turns out that- heck, I'm scared of normal, regular bridges- the kind with 4 lanes and twenty tons of concrete holding you up- but now I'm supposed to cross a 'bridge' made out of 4-inch squares of wood suspended 70 feet above the ground, and that is too hard for me. That isn't fun. And so I cried, and I wanted to quit because I don't like this part. But then I dried my tears and crossed that bridge. With shaking legs, and no shortage of fear, and no attempt at looking brave...I did it. And then you get to a zipline, which is relatively easy and lots of fun...but then the next thing is some other sadistic bridge-type thing that is not fun. And now my legs are tired and I'm sweaty and if I weren't stuck in a tree 80 feet in the air, I really might have just said 'peace!' and sat that one out...but I wanted to finish the course. I said I was going to do it. I know I can do it. I know the equipment is safe, my harness is secure, and so instead of submitting to what I felt like, I did what I knew I could.
And you know what? When you complete a section that was fun or relatively simple, you feel pretty good. I mean, it's fun to have just done something fun. But when you complete a section that was more than you thought you could handle? A section that you really thought you might die on? You feel incredible. You high-five your husband and you fist pump and you feel a little bit better about tackling whatever thing comes next.
It's just like marriage. It's just like life. There were sections of the course that were really hard and scary. There were sections that were super fun and had you flying through the trees. You never knew which section was coming next until you got there, and by the time you were there it was time to do it. Maybe it would have been nice if the whole course had been easy. I mean, I could have stuck with the children's course the whole time...the one where no obstacle or zipline is higher than about 6 feet? Where my feet would have drug the ground the whole time? There'd have been no fear of heights there. No fear of plunging 80 feet to paralysis or death. No sketchy bridges. But it also wouldn't have really been fun. There'd have been no exhilarating flying over the treetops. No triumphant high-fiving when you conquer something hard. No opportunity to cheer on your partner, to offer tips to passing strangers, to ask advice from the freakishly strong and fearless 8-year-old following you around.
The last six years have had more than their fair share of obstacles. I've been stuck on a swinging rope bridge, living out my greatest fear, with nothing but a couple cables keeping me from falling off. I've envied other people on the lower, easier courses. The people who somehow found the course with all ziplines and no bridge obstacles. And yet we keep climbing. We keep going and going, and there are sections of absolute joy and exhilaration, and there are sections of fear and trembling. But when it's over, and we look back at what we've been through and accomplished (or survived) in a week, or a season, or several years...it is worth it. Somehow the memories of the hard times fade a bit, while the pride in overcoming obstacles and the happy memories of the fun sections stays in the forefront of your mind, and you say it was awesome. I can't wait to do it again. You HAVE to do it.
Our six years haven't always been easy ones. But they have been worth it. And we are getting stronger, and our marriage is getting stronger, and now I've been on the swinging rope bridge enough times to know that I may not always enjoy it, but I can do it.
Happy Anniversary to you, Mattie. You are the best partner I could have ever picked and I am thankful every single minute that you still choose me.
Anniversary Meditations from Previous Years: Five Years, Four Years, Three Years, Two Years, One Year.
For your bonus viewing pleasure, here are a few videos we took on some of the obstacles. (And sorry they're not aligned correctly...Blogger is being a pain in the butt.)
This one is me on my most-hated obstacle, a very high swinging log bridge. There's a separate video of me getting on and getting off the very first step about 3 times, freaking out, and trying to quit. Then I just did it. Like a boss.
Matt on a similar obstacle. I hated this one, too.
This one was really fun, but TOUGH! Had to swing (like Tarzan) and then land and grab onto the net and climb up a ways, then sideways over to the landing. Climbing nets is HARD!!!
This one I thought I would HATE. I'd seen other people really struggle with it, and it falls in the whole 'swinging bridge' category of things in my mind...but actually I ended up doing really well and conquering it pretty quickly! It was a pleasant surprise.