About this time last January, Martin was back in England from a whirlwind trip to California where he made a commitment to follow Christ and fell in love with me. Since then, his life has literally turned upside down. He was so intense back then and knew he had found the two most important things he’d been looking for all his life. The Lord and love. Amazing. His intensity has matured and has grown deeper and the time we’ve been apart has tested our relationship and proven it to be real. Now there is a sweet, rich quality to it that is even better than that initial love. Like fine wine I guess. And hopefully we have a long way to go.
We are working through a remarriage – marriage book. And we are enjoying deep meaningful conversations as a result. We are discussing Scripture and what we are learning at church, and discussing our future. A while back I wrote about a relationship as it ages is kind of like tarnish on silver that sits out in a cabinet. How you don’t notice over time that it gets dull and needs tending to in order to make it shine. And this morning I was thinking about weddings and venues because I’m a woman who is about to get married and I’ve got “wedding” on the brain.
We are exploring the idea now of a wedding in England. How amazing would that be? In some castle somewhere? On the cliffs, by the ocean, in some 300 year old building? The venues are amazing there. They are “real”. In California the nice ones are made to look old. In England they just are old. With it comes an authentic charm that you just can’t get with Disneyland like application to create mood and ambiance.
A neglected relationship can tarnish over time without you realizing it. But a rich, full, relationship will not over time stay as it was in the beginning, perfectly shiny and brand new. It will age. It should age. And how it ages and because it ages adds to its value.
It’s called “Patina”. It is defined like this:
Patina is everything that happens to an object over the course of time. The nick in the leg of a table, a scratch on a table top, the loss of moisture in the paint, the crackling of a finish or a glaze in ceramics, the gentle wear patterns on the edge of a plate. All these things add up to create a softer look, subtle color changes, a character. Patina is built from all the effects, natural and man-made, that create a true antique.—Israel Sack
And I thought…wow. That is what I want. And that is what I’m getting in my relationship with Martin.
Not only does Patina give an object added value, but with some materials such as copper and bronze it also protects it from corrosion. It forms an outer coating that keeps the object pristinely preserved as it faces the elements of weather and wear.
And this is the most amazing part. Whether an object degrades or increases in value over time is not …listen…NOT…dependent on how severe the attacks from the elements are. In fact if made from the right material, the patina develops faster in stormy, seaside locations into that aged beauty that is prized.
So it’s not whether the storms of life come battering down on you…they will…and they will change you in some way. There is no getting around it.
I want our relationship to be like those buildings that are 300 years old and still going strong. Prized for their age and how time has changed them instead of a building that ages and is knocked down after a few years for a newer, better version because it is no longer functioning and hideously ugly.
Martin and I know that what we are attempting to do is hard. A long distance relationship. A couple from two different cultures who are 15 years apart. Who both have children, careers, obligations. So we know that especially with our relationship where the storms will be fierce, we need to make sure we are built with the right materials so we don’t fall apart at the seams.
Anything made of the right stuff gets better no matter what happens. So the trials we have been through, the tests we have faced as a couple already in this first year have changed us. And I for one am glad. Because we ARE better than before, which means we are doing something right.
Last week we had a little crisis. We were faced with a problem that was upsetting and feelings were hurt. We tried to talk about it but both of us got more upset. It was rough. How do you deal with a real problem when the other person is on the other side of the world? It was frustrating and I started to feel that little panic thing starting again. At the same time we were having connection problems. He couldn’t get onto Skype which initially made it even more frustrating. I wanted to throw something. I could feel my blood starting to boil. And I thought what in the world? This isn’t working, what can we do? And then I remembered that I said I wanted Jesus at the center of our relationship and I suggested we both stop trying to connect with Skype and turn to God through reading and prayer and talk again later. I didn’t know if he agreed or not because I couldn’t reach him and didn’t get an email back. But I opened my Bible and read Colossians 3: 12-14
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity
I prayed and prayed and read a devotion from one of my favorite pastors about peace with God. And I literally got an entirely brand new perspective that I simply could not see before that time with God. I felt the weight literally lift off of me and I knew I was back where I needed to be.
And I thought – this is what it’s all about. This is fantastic. What I’ve always dreamed a relationship could be like. Christ is at the center. Everything else is built around Him. We are developing passionate love, friendship love, and self-sacrificing love. All three combined to ensure a strong and lasting foundation.
No sooner did I come to that conclusion than Martin was able to get back online and called me. We had a great talk that was filled with tenderness and understanding instead of hurt feelings and defensiveness. Patina. The storms will come – it just depends on what you are made of that determines if they will make you better or break you down.
It reminds me of another Scripture in Matthew 7:24-27 when Jesus tells us to heed His Words.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”