The sun was just beginning to crest the mountains and spread scattered light through the trees. The quiet morning air was beginning to fill with the chirp of birds or the whistle of wind through the tall ancient pines. I could feel the cold mountain air in my lungs as I took an extended deep breath. As my eyes scanned the scene around me, they took in the smoke slowly rising from campsites close by, a small rabbit nestled on the edge of a line of bushes, and the color of pink clouds across the sky as the sun rose. I looked back at my tent and took in this beautiful woman lying there, still asleep. My wife. The moment sunk into my mind. I was married and spending a weekend away camping with my wife. Incredible.
This was more than eight months ago. Fast forward to today, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Looking back at our calendar, it has been a whirlwind of a year for us.
We were married just over a year ago, which was quickly followed by last year’s holiday season, and we dove into our first year of marriage. With that came all of the fun new lessons of living with a spouse, learning each other’s interesting habits and frustration points, along with our random fits of laughter at the end of a long week when we need to blow off some steam. We’ve spent time exploring new restaurants, hosting friends in our apartment, and figuring out how to decorate. We’ve learned the amazing phenomenon of meal prep and the need for honest conversations even when they are hard. Scratch that: especially when they are hard.
Since we have just passed our one-year anniversary, the popular interaction with others has been “Congratulations! How has it been?” or “Wow! That year went by fast!” It has caused us to look back on this last year and reflect. The year has been full of memories and firsts, like the first vacation we went on after our honeymoon, the first time attending weddings as a married couple, and the first time having a new last name. We have felt the joys of spending time with newly-married couples (“Oh, you guys found that at Costco?”) and the heartbreak of watching other married friends struggle in their relationship. In all of this, we have learned one important lesson.
Slowing down and taking time to remember God’s faithfulness in the past and His promise of faithfulness in the future helps keep our perspective focused in the right ways and gives us joy to step into what is ahead of us.
In looking back over this year, there have been moments where God clearly showed just how real and how closely He knows us. There have been moments when phone calls from friends or family came at just the right time, when details of our first apartment almost seamlessly dropped into place, or when we were given gifts we hadn’t even thought to ask for. We have received wisdom passed to us from mentors or older married couples. We have been blessed by relationships and opportunities with people we didn’t even know existed a year ago.
There have also been moments when God has seemingly been absent and we aren’t sure what is going on. The turmoil happening in our country and natural catastrophes that have been happening close to home have raised questions. Our long-time friends going through difficult changes in their marriage or struggling for months to find work has been difficult to navigate. We have questions about how to plan for our future and asking God new questions about how He leads.
In looking back over this year, there have been moments where God clearly showed just how real and how closely He knows us...[and] there have also been moments when God is seemingly absent and we aren't sure what is going on.
In all of these times, we have found it so necessary to slow down and be with God.
In the highs, when life is full of unexpected joys, slowing down to thank God for His faithfulness helps insert humility, gratitude, and a reminder that God gives a new definition to the term “Heavenly Father.”
In the lows, when life is full of stress, worry, and unanswered questions, slowing down to be with God helps insert honesty, frustration, and humility: a reminder that God is God and we are not. Things are not as they should be and we need a Savior.
We pray that what we have learned in our first year of marriage may be encouraging to you whether you’ve been married for fifty years or you’re not in a relationship at all. This Thanksgiving, in the midst of the holiday traveling or the mad frenzy to make it to the Thanksgiving meals or flag football games, take time to slow down. Get away from the bustle and look back over this last year. In the moments of clarity and joy, what has God shown you about His character? In the moments of uncertainty and anxiety, what has God been asking from you? Spend time with Him this holiday season and see how your perspective of the last year, and the year ahead of you, changes.
Ben and Nicole Longinow are big fans of the Center for Marriage and Relationships. Ben works with the Center as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator, coming up with marketing strategies and making sure things run smoothly in the background for the Center. Nicole works in the field of embryo adoption, with Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. Married in 2017, they both share a love for the outdoors, for Dodgers baseball, and University of Kentucky basketball. You can find them often at the beach surfing or on a hike somewhere around Southern California.