Well, the anniversary came and went in the usual ebb and flow of the beautiful chaos that is our life. We celebrated our 31 years of marriage by going to dinner on a Tuesday. A rather unassuming way to celebrate what has been a heartstopping yet very strengthening year for The Andy and JoAnna Gale Covenant Commitment and Marriage for Time and All Eternity. We seem to be entering that stage of life where youth and indestructibility give way to age and deterioration. We have to face what we have known all along: we aren't going to live forever in the mortal sense. All the more reason to expand our horizons into the Eternity aspect of this union and focus less on the daily ups and downs of the Time aspect.
Andy suffered through months of pain and several wrong guesses at the reason for the pain, before they discovered it was an infection in a disc in his back. The recovery was slow and painful. A few months later, I went in for a routine diagnostic colonoscopy (something to look forward to when you turn 50!) and my blood pressure went sky high and scared the anesthesiologist when IV meds didn't bring it down. That led to an immediate trip to the doctor and an EKG to check for heart issues. When an abnormality showed up--the Doctor said, "It looks like you have had a small heart attack." I just about had a heart attack. (ha) That meant a trip to the cardiologist and some various and sundry poking and prodding and my usual explanations as to why I would have eight children and how I don't look old enough to be a grandmother (small consolation--but duly appreciated nonetheless) and who in their right mind would homeschool and so on and so forth.
As I was having my heart examined, I did my own examining of this old heart.
It is very heartwarming to have a loving husband who is so concerned about my health. He looked after me and drove me here and there for the Dr. appointment and he picked up my prescription and then tucked me in and took care of things so I could rest. My heart is full of gratitude for all of the ways he takes care of me and us. The us includes an amazing family -- our eight children and their spouses and children. My heart swells with love and pride in the way they are living their lives sweetly entwined in the gospel plan.
I can see how life's experiences thus far have helped to soften my heart. As I realize my shortcomings and look at myself honestly and without excuses, I see so many things I need to work on. That makes me realize how reliant I am on the grace and mercy of the Savior and the Atonement means everything to me. That same process has been working on Andy and we have come to a new level of understanding with each other that is supportive rather than critical. Merciful rather than punishing. Peaceful rather than contentious.
Becoming one heart takes a lot of humility and repentance and forgiveness. It requires us to set aside selfishness and look to the other's needs and wants. We are very blessed to have the same eternal goals and strength of conviction in spiritual matters. That is the key to our marriage lasting through the heart-wrenching earthly lessons that make or break us. That won't happen with hardened hearts, in fact, it requires a broken heart along with a contrite spirit.
So, maybe I have a heart condition, I don't have the final diagnosis on that yet. The bigger question is: What is the condition of my heart?
I just have one last thing to say to wrap up this hearty anniversary post: