They were delivered to the front door dressed to impress in a sheer fabric sheath. The fiery-red and blush-pink buds were accented with wisps of baby’s breath, and their long-legged stems were cinched with a grosgrain ribbon corset. A small card peeked out from the blossoms. It was scribbled in the familiar hand of that man-of-mine with a loving anniversary sentiment. I breathed in the intoxicating aroma and smiled at the sweet gesture.
I sliced open the wrapping and the roses tumbled out onto the counter awaiting a vessel worthy of their beauty, and the magnitude of the celebration. There was one flower for every year since we said “I Do” – each prettier than the one before.
The buds were just beginning to open; their tender petals free of bruises and blemishes. Each stem had been fastidiously severed at a perfect angle and every thorn was expertly removed; they were nothing short of flawless.
The flowers commemorated the anniversary of a wedding, but their perfection did not reflect the reality of a marriage.
Not ours. Not yours. Not anyone’s.
Marriage is many beautiful things, but flawless is not one of them.
This shared journey is not immune to thorns that wound, sting, and scar. Unexpected barbs lurk amidst the loveliness and prove to test, grow, refine, and define the covenant.
Our years together have been marked by many lovely and cherished blessings for which we are profoundly and prayerfully thankful. But, we’ve also known pain, sacrifice, and unwelcome surprises; and we’ve had to wrestle, subdue, and overcome our own thorns in the flesh.
That’s marriage… It’s the juxtaposition of
joy and sorrow.
abundance and want,
spirit and flesh,
mundane and marvelous,
pain and healing.
ambition and rest,
sickness and health,
laughter and tears….
roses and thorns.
I thought of these truths as I carefully placed each perfect stem inside the large crimson vase. I marveled at how quickly more than three decades have passed and how fortunate we’ve been – and are – to share this life together.
Yes, there have been thorns, but, also, many precious blossoms.
Together they have shaped our lives into the flawed, beautiful, fragrant bouquet of Us.
And I am grateful – thorns and all.