In 1998, my husband and I bought a tent.
This tent spelled adventure with a capital A for us. We traveled everywhere with that tent–we hiked up and slid down the Indiana dunes, watched Missouri sunsets, swam in Kentucky lakes, cheered on baseball teams in Ohio, Colorado, and Michigan, ate unidentifiable foods in the deep South, and tucked into our -30 degree sleeping bags Up North at night.
Then we had one kid, then two kids. The third one came and we packed the tent away, something I swore we’d never do. We bought a bigger tent, thinking we just needed to expand our square footage of adventure. Our daily conversations sounded something like . . .
"Kids are flexible. You just teach them.”
“We’ll take our kids everywhere. They’ll love it.”
“We’re growing mini-adults, not kids!”
Then we had a fateful run-in with a trash bin, a raccoon, and an 18-month-old with a mind of her own. I was ready to admit that maybe we were trying too hard to hold on to a season that was not ours to keep.
Yes, we could raise our kids to be adventurers. Yes, we could still camp, but some things had to give. Our camping stuff sat dormant in the basement for a few years. I would occasionally go down for a container of hand-me-down clothes and lament their loss, but honestly, I was so wrapped up in diapers, sleep schedules, and keeping wild-hearted young people alive that I was in survival mode. I praised the Lord for what He had given me, but was mostly aghast at how much harder it was than I expected.
And my marriage! It wasn’t anything like the adventure days. Every date night had to be pre-planned and usually ended in a run to the drugstore for Children’s Tylenol for someone. The romance of waking up together in a new location was a million miles away and felt beyond reach. I mourned the loss of this more than anything. Would my husband and I ever be that version of our One-Flesh selves again? Witty, in-love, fanciful, and creative?
Then, one day, the season changed. We explored the city of Toronto and realized that we hadn’t hauled around a diaper bag, no one needed a stroller, and everyone wanted banh mi instead of McD.
The Bible gives us more wisdom on marriage than we give it credit for. There are two words that stand above the rest for me; that give strength and hope in every marriage season and life stage–
Genesis 2:24 isn’t just about that first marriage in the Garden of Eden. When God tells Adam,
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
It’s for you and for me, and today it’s especially for you, young parent. Maybe you are especially loving this season of little fingers and tiny toes; maybe you aren’t. It’s okay to have mixed emotions as well. Every season of life and marriage has its victories and its challenges.
Another season will come.
One of the reasons God gives us this wisdom is because He knows that we will need them. Hold Fast reminds us that our marriages and our families were meant for more than just glory, but were given to us for the hard moments, the storms, and the seasons we weren’t quite prepared for. Babies, young children, even diapers are such a beautiful thing, but there is no shame in saying, “This is hard.” “This isn’t what I thought it was going to be.” Or “I miss the way it was.”
With Hold Fast on our tongue we can stand in gratitude for all God has given us this day, and still share with Christ the desires of our heart as well. We can turn to our spouse and say, “Hold Fast” when frustration and exhaustion seem to rain in on each of us. Adventure, young married life might be gone in the blink of an eye. This season might feel lackluster, mediocre, but Christ brings Life and unchanging Joy into every season and every marriage.
Hold Fast to Christ Jesus. Hold Fast to the Word that offers encouragement and Truth. Hold Fast to your spouse whom God has given you. God is at work.
And in the blink of an eye, the days will change shape and a new season will come and in all of them Our Savior holds fast to us, offering unending grace for the today and hope for tomorrow.