Reflections on the Bayou Remind Me of the Precious Gift that Marriage Is

CAPTION OF: Bayou Pointe, ULM-University of Louisiana at Monroe

Thank you, Jesus!

That’s an honest and earnest word from me, expressed from a full heart. I’m not being trite or taking His name and throwing it around frivolously. (His name is holy, and I honor it).

It’s a word borne of reflections on the bayou, from a busy, lively, lovely weekend.

On Friday past, Vanessa and I traveled to Monroe, Louisiana, to attend my biennial college reunion (every 2 years) with some of my former classmates. The theme was Reflections on the Bayou, and it was very appropriate. So many distinguished men and women – parents, husbands, wives, professors, teachers, preachers, journalists, business leaders, fraternity brothers, sorority sisters…such good company and such a fun time!

It was nostalgic (that was 30 pounds and 30-something years ago for me, and even more for others!), and it reminded me of how far a bashful, God-fearing country boy has come.

It was such a joy.

The numbers of attendees weren’t what they used to be – some of our classmates couldn’t make it due to conflicting schedules and other commitments; some were dealing with health issues; some were COVID-cautious; and others have moved on to eternity. Some came solo, some came with friends, and a few of us always bring our spouses. And me – the shy boy from the little country town in North Louisiana arrived with the prettiest girl on the entire campus on his arm.

At this point, though she will deny it, Vanessa is more popular than I am at my own reunion. But I’m not mad at her.

Thank you, Jesus.

Those reflections we experienced this weekend made me so grateful for my marriage. When it operates the way God intended, it is truly a beautiful thing.

The drive alone one way was 6 hours. At this point in my time on Planet Earth, a 5-hour solo drive for me is close to torture. Anything much past that and I need to be buying a plane ticket! But isn’t it something how taking those road trips with a companion makes the time go so much faster and so much more enjoyably?

We covered so many topics over the course of more than 12 hours of round-trip driving – faith, family matters, fashion, politics, religion, still-unfulfilled dreams, health, finances, upcoming vacations. We listened to classical musical and took in a couple of YouTube sermons from Derek Prince, one of our favorite ministers who has gone on to be with the Lord.

We called her mother on the phone and had a wonderful chat with her - we even sang a hymn with her.

We solved several of the world’s crises – just waiting on Washington to call so that we can help the Government out.

We laughed, we prayed, we talked about everything…and nothing…

Now I love my alone time. The quiet side of my nature enjoys a good book, a meditative walk in the park, or sitting out on the front porch contemplating the incomparable beauty of God’s creation. But I really love our couple time. We’re empty-nesters now and how sweet it is!

My favorite part of this past weekend wasn’t seeing the old familiar faces, or the secret handshakes with fraternity brothers, or the catered meals. It was seeing my wife laugh and enjoy herself with my old friends as well as some new ones. It was seeing her hop up from our table and make silly comments to two ladies who joined us for dinner. It was recording her do the Harlem Shuffle and sashay down a makeshift Soul Train line. That’s what made my heart glad.

We didn’t know some of the attendees before Saturday, but several of them and Vanessa have already exchanged texts and Facebook pleasantries since then.

Thank you, Jesus.

My back-and-forths with God over the years have yielded me an ever-clearing picture of what a great marriage looks and feels like. By no means have I “arrived” – I’m forever a work He is still chiseling on. But I know that He uses my marriage to do a lot of that grinding that my character needs to get better. Marriage has forced me to look in the mirror and continuously make adjustments to be a better me.

I have learned that Luther Vandross was so right. A house is not a home, but a vibrant marriage turns it into one. Our home is my sanctuary. Not because of the structure or creature comforts but because of the spousal support of the very best kind.

When I come home from a rough workday, if Vanessa is here, I know that I’m going to be greeted with a warm hello and smile, a hug, and a kiss. At home, I can unwind with a receptive audience of one who really listens to me.

It’s amazing how many people – grown folks – still don’t realize that a conversation should be like a good tennis match. It’s volleying back and forth – it’s talking and asking questions and listening to the answer instead of waiting for your turn to talk again (and sometimes not even waiting).

And if I don’t feel like talking, she gives me my space.

Vanessa is a master communicator and conversationalist. What makes her so successful and effective is that she really is interested in what the other person has to say.

We still have fun together. And our having fun together isn’t tied to extravagant dinners or romantic getaways, though both of those are eminently desirable. Our best fun is just enjoying one another’s company.

Everyday life can turn into a grind – add kids and mortgages and conflicts at work and health issues to the mix and you’re talking a recipe for challenges. Stress is inevitable in our world and it’s more imperative than ever that we enjoy our spouses. So many of my former classmates have “lost” their spouses through divorce or death - every day God gifts Vanessa and me with, I count myself blessed and highly favored.

Upon further reflection, I must say this about marriage – how sweet it is!

Thank you, Jesus.

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