This probably sounds like no big deal to most, but a few weeks ago, I was invited to a girl’s night that started at 7:30pm. For someone who is usually in bed by 9:30, this was a risk but I was prepared to take it. I made a ginormous fruit salad (for a girl’s night that was a questionable food choice but it ended up being okay) and I schlepped myself downtown to my friend’s apartment.
It was a small group and I was the only married lady there so most of the evening was spent talking about dating in 2018. I…learned some things, womanly things, that 20-year-old single baby Beth didn’t have to deal with. I will keep those to myself, but please say a prayer for single women everywhere. It’s rough out there.
Anyway, they were trying to find ways to include me in the conversation beyond making horrified faces about DMs they receive on dating apps and so they asked me, “What’s it like to be married?”
I had a hard time answering because it’s kind of like describing what it’s like to have hair. I’ve been married for so long (11 years today) that I don’t really remember what it’s like to not be married.
I think I laughed and said something about how I was grateful that I nabbed Alex young so that I could head off some of his more bachelor tendencies at the pass.
On the way home though, flush with my half a glass of wine, I tried to figure out my real answer to that question. And I finally came up with it.
Alex feels like home.
We got married before we graduated from college. We wouldn’t have wanted alcohol at our wedding but even if we did, we were 20 when we tied the knot. We have literally grown up together. You think that you’re grown when you go off to college at 18. You think so until you graduate and the real world throat punches you for most of your 20s. For my entire adult life, Alex has been by my side. I don’t know what adulthood would look like without him.
He feels like home.
There have been times during my faith deconstruction over the past year that I wondered how Alex was feeling. Not because he’s vindictive or controlling, but because I’m changing the game. When we got married, we washed each other’s feet and prayed together and believed in the inerrancy of the Bible. Our life’s calling was to do mission work.
I’ve changed the game. It’s tough to go from a textbook definition of Christian evangelicalism to pretty much only believing (currently), “God is real. Jesus was cool.” There have been times when I’ve been nervous to talk to him about my evolving faith, because faith has been such a solid rock in our marriage and neither of us know what marriage looks like with a softer (or different) rock. He didn’t ask for this. Coincidentally, neither did I. How could we have known at 20 what kind of people we would be at 32? We’re trying to navigate this together but we don’t have a ton of guidance. It’s kinda scary. When you throw in what this deconstruction means for parenting, it’s downright terrifying.
But you know what? Everything in my life that has brought me from that day 11 years ago when I said, “I do”- all of the disillusionment and disappointment about the Church, the hypocrisy, the learning, the sadness, the joy, the trauma, all of it- Alex has been right there with me. He’s seen it; held me while I wept; supported me when I raged. He might not have reacted the same way but he knows me and what I’ve been through and he knows us and he gets it. That is deeply comforting.
In a time when there is very little in my life that feels certain, Alex feels like home. I find rest and comfort in his acceptance, in his unconditional love, in his steadiness. He is (one example of) God’s continuing promise to accept me wherever my path leads, a physical manifestation of what unqualified love looks like.
He feels like home.