Kay's Blog

Happy to Be Stuck with You

Forty years ago – June 21, 1975 – I stood in the back of the First Baptist Church of Norwalk, CA, anxiously grasping my father’s arm, waiting to walk down the aisle to meet my tall, skinny groom. We were barely 21, and although we thought we were incredibly mature, we quickly learned just how immature – and broken we truly were. Rick was a well-known youth evangelist and was currently a youth pastor; we felt intense pressure to have a great honeymoon and a great marriage. The honeymoon, which everyone says is “AMAZING!!!” was not. We hardly knew each other (that’s another story), so despite having read the latest and greatest Christian advice books on marriage, sex, communication, children, and money, we quickly descended into marital hell, arguing hotly and unfairly about each one of those topics. We put on happy faces when we went to church, faked enthusiasm when the little old ladies slyly poked us in the ribs and asked about “you know.” We loved Jesus and we were pretty sure we loved each other – so why were we so miserable? Why did we both secretly wonder if we had just completely ruined our lives by marrying the wrong person? Divorce was not an option to us – it was the mid 70’s and Christians just didn’t get divorced – at least not in OUR families. Even though Rick landed in the hospital with depression within 3 months and I nearly had a complete mental breakdown from the stress and pressure of living a lie, we were stubborn as mules and We. Were. Not. Getting. A. Divorce.

Fast forward 40 years. Tonight at a marriage vow renewal service, as I gazed up into the eyes of the young kid I married so long ago, I couldn’t help but stand outside of myself and be astonished at how far we two stubborn mules have come. Instead of trembling anxiously as we did 40 years ago, this time we confidently held hands and repeated vows of love, faithfulness, forgiveness, grace, acceptance, and HOPE – confident because our marriage has weathered some of the worst moments any marriage can endure and left us deeply, deeply loving each other. The promise to stay together until death parts us now comes with the painful realization that someday death WILL separate us; the rending and tearing of the fabric of our marriage something to dread. But that is then; this is now.

So to the love of my life, let others have the candy sweet love songs as “their” song (nothing wrong with that!); ours will always be Huey Lewis’ “Happy to Be Stuck with You.” And stuck together we are - like the sturdiest, most industrial-strength super glue EVER. Two stubborn mules yoked together with bonds (commitments, vows, pledges, promises, oaths) that hold infinite sweetness.

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Today is Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday - obvious to those who follow a liturgical church calendar, but to those of us raised without observances of Advent and Lent, Lent is a new dimension of faith to be explored with joy and wonder for me. The liturgy readings for today are somber and full of emotion-laden words like "repent, sin, contrition, purging, cleansing, fasting, forgiveness, and mercy." And while I have no ashes on my forehead to represent repentance, inwardly my thoughts are consumed with self-examination... figuratively lifting up the corners of the rugs that hide dirt... opening mental doors locked against the gentle Spirit who asks admittance... ready and willing to acknowledge the willful, stubborn, prideful self on the throne in the Kingdom of Kay... ready to admit how utterly lost I was until Jesus Christ - the Risen Lamb of God - took up residence in my being... requesting mercy AGAIN.

Yet, sinful though I am, I gratefully receive His love, knowing there is no cause for shame; confident that His blood thoroughly wipes out all the reasons for shame... even the ones that bring a bowed head and tears at their memory. With the Psalmist, I say "Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of sin cleanse me... A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me... Give me back the joy of your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise." (Psalm 51)

I pray the prayer of Thomas A Kempis, "by loving myself badly I lost myself; by seeking only you and by truly loving you I have found both myself and you, and by that love I have reduced myself more profoundly to nothing. For you, O sweetest Lord, deal with me above all my merits and above all that I dare to hope or ask."

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