One of my favorite memories of spending time with Jesse happened on a late afternoon at Crisan's Coffeeshop in East Grand Rapids (I am sad to say it's no longer in business due to the "Big S" moving in a few doors down). Jesse was a senior, and I was a junior at Calvin, and we'd brought our homework with us and sat at a table next to the window.
I was doing math homework. This might not seem like a big deal if you don't know me very well. However, if you have lived with me for any amount of time, you will know that I don't do math. Math and me? We don't get along. Textbooks have been thrown against walls. Notebook paper has been ripped to shreds. Erasers have been scratched down to nubs. But on this day, as I was working on a problem, I noticed that the sun had cast a shadow diagonally across my notebook paper, letting me know evening was on its way. Jesse and I had been working for hours at my beloved Crisan's, and I was finding out that math wasn't too bad.
Don't take this the wrong way. Jesse was in no way helping me with my homework. I think he'd learned early that nobody can help. Helping me consists of a kind man whose name rhymes with Tonathan Mewis, sitting at the dining table late at night finishing my math homework for me because I was too frustrated with those darn long division problems. And who cares about remainders anyway?
What was special about this late afternoon/early evening was that I was enjoying doing work, and I know Jesse was too. After twelve years of being married to Jesse I realize that this is who we are. We like to work. We like lists. We are happiest working on some kind of project or talking about some kind of goal we want to reach.
It seems terribly unromantic, I suppose, but for me, it is nice to spend time with someone who goes to the library looking for a book for himself, and comes back with stacks of books on writing for me because he thinks I might enjoy them. Or someone who showed me where all the coffee shops were in South Bend after we were first married, because "it might be nice to do your work in a different environment besides the classroom."
I'm writing about this because on Sunday, Jesse and I celebrated twelve years of marriage. We went to a great restaurant called Corduroy in DC on Saturday night, thanks to my Uncle Greg and Aunt Julie. As we ate, I remembered that we didn't have any dessert at home, and Jesse said, "I bought an apple fritter at the Royal Crown Bakery this morning when I went to get bagels." This made me laugh because Jesse loves apple fritters, and I proceeded to tell him the time I had my first apple fritter. I went to visit him at Notre Dame one February weekend when I was a senior at Calvin. You know what we did? We worked. We worked and we ate apple fritters along with my favorite candy of all time - a certain kind of gummy worm that you can only find at Meijer grocery stores. I remember we walked out of Cushing Hall, and it was late; I don't think any students were around (they were probably all at Corby's). We walked towards his apartment and it had just started to snow, and I don't know if I was more excited about the snow falling or the fact that I had just completed an insane amount of homework while Jesse working on his hurricane storm surges.
So this weekend was filled with a lot of grace and work. Like always. We went to IKEA (that's where Hadley and Harper are in the picture) to get some supplies for a few projects we had going on in our place. Hadley was a big help when we got back home, and used the stud finder to "look for wood" throughout the house so that "Daddy won't put any holes in it."
The thing about work is this: the more I do it, the more I see grace. So it's hard for me to understand grace without work. One of my favorite quotes was written by George MacDonald:
"But the door into joy generally opens behind us, and a hand is put forth which draws us in backwards. The sole wisdom for the person who is haunted with the hovering of unseen wings, with the scent of unseen roses, and the subtle enticement of melodies unheard, is work. If you follow any of these, they will vanish. But if you work, they will come unsought."
I'm glad I'm married to someone who understands this.