Not For Sissies

Feb 13, 2014

Me and my Valentine at Acadia. Still friends after climbing that thing behind us.


“That’s it. I quit.” I lifted myself back down through the crevice, wedging my left knee between the two huge boulders and dangling my right foot into midair, searching for a place to step down to.

“We’re almost there! You can do it Robin. I can help you!” my husband pleaded from above.

Love is patient.

I was beyond help. I was tired, in pain and worst of all, I was sweaty and hot. Now I know the guy knows me well enough to know this is the end of my last thread.

“I’m happy waiting right here!” I snapped back at him, then began to mutter that I NEVER should’ve done this in the first place, I’ll NEVER do it again and what’s the point in climbing anyway? I was happy just driving to the top of a mountain. I was even happy climbing halfway up this stupid mountain. The view was just as breathtaking 400 feet below me and I sure didn’t need another twenty feet of pain and terror to get a better view of the mountains and the ocean beyond. I was vexed. I found a little ledge in the shade and peeled off my socks and shoes.

Shortly thereafter I heard grunting and snorting above me and watched a young man with a backpack who looked like he was late for a calculus class work his way through the same crevice that I had backed down through, only with less grace I hope.

“The backpack throws off my balance,” he explained, a little startled by me sitting there. I nodded and waved as he descended down the trail, wishing I could go with him, but I told C.B. I’d wait.

This was our second anniversary trip to Acadia National Park. Last year we hiked up a different mountain. That trail edged along the side of the mountain, so it was like you were walking along the windowsill of a skyscraper the whole way up. I complained and moaned from the bottom to the very top, everything from not being able to breathe to threatening to puke. C.B. just smiled at me and waved me along like I was some kind of Outward Bound drop-out.

I said I would hike again, but a kinder mountain, please. I’m thinking there is no such thing.

The day before we had gone biking and after three hours I told him I was going to cry if I saw another hill. He smiled and led me back to the bike shop.

“You did great, honey.!” Yeah, save it pal. My thighs feel like they have been drawn and quartered. And I’m sweaty. Yuk.

 Love is kind.

C.B. and I met when I was 40. We had both been humbled by divorce. He had been single for nine years; me for three. When I say single I mean alone. We both dabbled a bit with dating, but when a Christian dates it is this awkward circling dance that must end in either marriage behind curtain number one, or rejection behind curtain number two. If it’s not going somewhere then it derails quickly. So singleness can become a way of life. And when you know Jesus, it is not as lonely. I can’t say you are never lonely because God didn’t create us to be alone, hence Eve. But we were kind of used to alone. Anyway, sparks flew. I said Yes. And we both stepped back into the unpredictable waters of marriage.

Love does not envy, or boast.

I think that marriage is not for sissies. If you want the kind of marriage that God talks about, becoming one, submitting, dying, never leaving or forsaking…it takes guts and courage. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. I’m so good at winning an argument. But I’m so bad at really listening, accepting and laying the whole debate down. Surrender. Ouch.

It does not demand its own way…

We’ve been married 16 years, which is short time for most people our age. But after the death of a child, moving three times, pastoring for five years, job losses, a cancer diagnosis and repeated solicitations from AARP, we can say that a lot of water has rushed under our bridge and nearly taken the bridge down. There are things I have said that I can’t take back, let downs, disappointments; we could both score high on the sparring field of marital combat. It’s tempting sometimes, to pull out the card and wave it. But God took my card and tore it up. He threw it “as far as the east is from the west”, which I realized as I flew to Korea that it’s so far, it ceases to exist. Precisely.

It is not irritable and it keeps no record of wrong.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. C.B knows I don’t like chocolates and I only like spontaneous flowers. I’ve saved the best of the best cards over the years and he is a beautiful writer, although my son Miles wins best Valentine’s poem when he was in high school:

Roses are red

Violets are blue,

My pulmonary arteries

Pump for you!

That was both a nod to my nursing profession and good use of his anatomy and physiology class.

But besides being grateful for a husband who really does love me, even when I quit on mountains and cry on bike rides, I am mostly grateful for a husband who is steadfast in his love for Jesus, because there at the cross we remember His love for us, a love that gave all, forgave all and the grace that keeps us daily ever pressing closer to what love really means. I confess I still have a ways to go, but I’m liking the journey more and more.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

We are already planning a return to Acadia next fall. We will climb again because C.B. loves to climb mountains and after 16 years I can truly say I love to follow him. Only I get to pick the mountain. Something friendlier, kinder… maybe I can rent a donkey.

Love never fails.

(all verses from God’s valentine to us:1 Corinthians 13:4-8)