Saturday, July 13, 2013

Root System

Joel and I experienced that we were called into our marriage. This became clear about 3 months into dating (Thank God!). I know personally, that I am too dense to pick up what God is putting down so I am profoundly grateful that He made it real clear. I will share that story another time. We decided that since we knew we were meant to marry then we should just do it right away. Why waste time dating when we could be living into our marriage?

That week Joel went home to talk with his parents about his intention to marry me ASAP and I was led to a lunch with my pastor's wife. That is the only lunch we have had to date. 

While enjoying a sushi buffet, I explain to her the situation mostly because I was really excited about it. She gave me a funny look once I finished my story with "and we want to get married right away." I asked her what she thought and she remained quiet.  

"What's good now is going to be good in a year, maybe better."

I was listening now. She shared her story of marriage and I was taken by another line that was part of that advice. "You can never know until you are married how linked to your families you will become." The rebel in me did not want to hear this, but I knew beyond a doubt that she was sharing divine truth with me and I had to listen.

Since then, I am grateful everyday that we heeded her wise words. This should have been no surprise but Joel's family was not ready to know that he was planning to walk down the aisle as soon as humanly possible. They had only met me 3 times at that point. That evening when he returned home we both broke the news suddenly and in-sync that we were guided to wait another year before we got married. We were relieved and joyful that the messages had been the same for both of us even though we'd received them apart. (This would become the norm little did we know.)

What the wise and beloved ones in our lives were sharing with us was the great wisdom that our relationship needed to be rooted. We were both rooted in God and it was in that tri-une that our marriage truly began. However,the witness of our community, our support system, is a tradition in our culture because it matters.

The wonderful and maybe annoying (in some opinions) gift of marriage is that literally two families are merging to become one united support system. Our families made a covenant on our wedding day to do everything they can do to help us stay together when times get tough. 

Many of you who are married or perhaps have been part of weddings may have noticed that many decisions are made in the ceremony for the "family." There is a reason for that. A wedding is simply a public profession of a spiritual transformation that has already taken place inside the couple. This is the chance for all who love the couple to bare witness to their promises and support them in that marriage. 

Like all systems in this great creation...everything is connected. Our marriages are far more successful when our families are in support of them. 

I had the great gift of being able to actually marry one of my best friend's to his amazing wife just a couple weeks ago. I couldn't help but talk about this root system of support. The best way to explain it is to talk about trees; one of my favorite things.

The first time I saw the Redwoods and Sequoias in California I was taken by them. They are the tallest trees on Earth. Some of the redwoods we saw grew up to 400 feet high. As you can guess, they weren't just tall, they were also very wide. These are monster trees. Anyone who knows anything about gardening knows that you can't put too many plants close together because they won't be able to live. They won't have access to enough nutrients for them all to survive. What was so incredible about these mammoth trees is that they are enormous and they grew very close to their counterparts. They grow in clusters of trees. 

Come to find out, the redwoods and sequoias have evolved in a way that has allowed them to become the oldest and tallest trees on the planet. These giant plants have the shallowest root systems. A 400 foot tree might only have a 6-9 foot root depth. How can they stand so tall? The answer is community. These roots spread up to 100 feet around their base. Their roots entangle with the roots of the trees around them, they graft together and slowly all the roots systems of the trees in the area become one. Suddenly, these trees are the strongest and most stable in the forest. 

This, to me, is the story of a marriage that will last. It is worth it. Let your roots run deep in the God that binds you to your mate. However, let them grow wide and graft into the support system around you.You can experience the fruit of a healthy tree with all your senses. You can see how it endures the storms and the changing seasons but you cannot see it's root system. You do know it is there or else none of this life would exist at all. It was worth the time we took to invest in our families that year. When our wedding rolled around we were surrounded by people who were delighted to uphold us and ready to celebrate the love we knew was there all along. What was good then was better in a year and it was better because we invest in nourishing our root system.