We knew that marriage wouldn’t be easy. Or we thought we knew. We said our vows and enjoyed our honeymoon and set about the business of building a family. We each brought a blueprint of the envisioned finished product. Surely our blueprints will be similar, we assumed. Surely we want the same thing. We each toted tools that had been accumulated through the years. Knowledge, wit, gifting. Persistence, resolve, denial. Tools used to shape our renditions of how life “should” work and look and feel. Surely, if we combined our resources and committed to the process, we could construct a bridge over the abyss between souls.
We planned and hammered, measured and cut. We worked hard in our own ways – so hard our hearts bore painful blisters. We kept working. Months into the project, it was clear that the foundation of our bridge was unstable. Try as we may to walk lightly, life’s storms were too strong. Life’s weights, too burdensome. On paper, our plans for the bridge called “marriage” were similar, but the ways in which we set out to build were radically different. I demanded. You denied. I spoke. You were silent. The bridge became longer through years and memories, but longer doesn’t always mean stronger. The structure was sufficient, but it wasn’t ideal.
Yet as the years unfolded, we began to change. Grace intervened. We saw more clearly. Some of our tools had been more harmful than helpful and were discarded. Others needed to be refined, developed and shared. We watched friends build well and learned from their example. We reconsidered the process, the blueprints, the design.
The sturdiest bridges in the world, the ones that have outlasted empires and elephants and natural disasters, are bridges constructed with arches. The keystone in the center of a compression arch bridge bears the weight of the rest of the bridge (and its load). The heavier the load, the more pressure. The more pressure, the stronger the structure becomes.
“The good that emerges from a conflict of values cannot arise from the total condemnation or destruction from one set of values, but only from the building of a new value, sustained like an arch, by the tension of the original two.” Dorothy Sayers
As we welcome our twenty-second year of marriage, I’m grateful. For a husband who is willing to be broken in order to be rebuilt. For the pressures of life that require a support greater than we could possibly muster. And most of all, for and unwavering Keystone. One who bears the weight of the world – including all our hopes and dreams and failures – until the day when all will finally be made new.