Category Archives: growing older

An Arranged Marriage

By Tony W.

The pastor of the church my wife and I attend frequently speaks about the huge difference our perspective can make as we navigate life. For example, make a big mistake at work and you can see it as a valuable lesson that will help you in the future or as a confirmation that you will never be successful. Same mistake, same workplace, same you – the critical difference is your perspective.

This teaching about the importance of perspective combined with an article I read about the statistically higher success rate of arranged marriages led me to an “A-ha!” moment about marriages in general and my marriage specifically.

wedding1If you prayed about finding the right person to marry, wouldn’t you consider when you did find them that the match was arranged by the Ultimate Match-Maker? Especially if it took awhile to find your match and it came about in an unexpected manner? This Match-Maker’s done some impressive work in the past – Adam and Eve, Ruth and Boaz, Joseph and Mary. What if your marriage also was personally arranged by Him?

The article said cultures with predominantly arranged marriages have much lower divorce rates and now research also has established those in arranged marriage are just as likely to report being happy with their spouse as those in “love” marriages. It’s complicated but experts believe husbands and wives have diminished expectations going into an arranged marriage so then are happily surprised when their spouse exceeds those expectations. Conversely in love marriages,  when spouses feel they have found their perfect match, the expectations are much higher and often result in disappointment when incompatibilities emerge.

The Waco Back Story

My wife and I often say how fortunate we were to find each other and how unlikely it was that we both were in Waco, Texas at the same time, working at the same company. It certainly wasn’t love at first sight. When I was first attracted to her and asked her to lunch hoping to get to know her better, she accepted but promptly let me know over Chinese food that she was dating someone and would want to be my “friend.” Over a year went by with us occasionally talking at work or having a meal together, sometimes in a group situation. All along I was visiting churches and praying on a regular basis (it’s what you do in Waco) and I’m sure those prayers sometimes mentioned my future wife by name.

As I got to know her better and did, in fact, become her friend, there always seemed to be a quiet voice inside me saying “she’s the one.” The voice seemed to note each positive quality about her that came to light as we talked.

“Wow, did you hear that? She really would be good for you.”

And then one day, things between us changed. She started to see me differently. Within a few months, I went from being her “friend” to being her fiancé, then being her husband, and

  • moving across country together for her dream job,
  • having a beautiful baby girl,
  • having a wonderful baby boy,
  • moving back to Texas,
  • buying a house together,
  • raising our children and two boys from my first marriage,
  • growing ever closer as we’ve aged, plus
  • still being in love after 22 years.

So while it’s not a big leap of faith for me to think a Higher Power brought us together, I had never considered the idea of our marriage being the purposeful act of the Ultimate Match-Maker. Churches talk about putting God at the center of your marriage, and maybe one of the best ways of doing that is to simply consider your marriage as having been arranged by Him.

Not So Heavenly

If He brought you and your spouse together, wouldn’t it make sense that He is taking an active interest in keeping you together? I’ve come to believe He does. Sure, we have friction and challenges but the Match-Maker never told me my wife would be perfect. He just kept emphasizing all that was good about her and that it might be possible for her to be my wife one day.

When I’m feeling a little neglected or misunderstood, I take those complaints to Him. But because he is all-knowing, there’s no fudging on what I’ve done or not done to further a situation. Before I address a problem, I start by thanking Him for finding my match and acknowledging what a great addition my spouse has been to my life. When I do this, things are sure to get better soon.  Part of the reason this works is that He put into both of our hearts a focus on what we like about each other, not a fairy-tale expectation. “A-ha!”

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Gary the garage door repairman

ballroom dancing

Ballroom dancing is doable

You never know what you might find out about a person until you just listen.

This 6-ft tall gentleman wore a long-sleeved shirt and Wrangler jeans. He was more leg than anything and the wrinkles on his face were like grooves. But he still had quite a bit of hair.

Gary came to assess the damage and restore order. He did so expertly, taking the claw of the hammer to force out the pins and replace them, bending the frame to his will. He suggested upgrades but not in a pushy way; he was happy to demonstrate how things would be better in the hot garage.

I invited him to sit after the work was completed. He refused a glass of water because there was a Dr Pepper waiting in the truck. And then he shared his story.

A Marine, Gary was the recipient of not one, but two kidneys. The battle scars he showed me on his arm were fistulas from kidney dialysis. His story was really a story about someone else.

He said something like this:
People who go to dialysis act like they’re going to die. I didn’t. I just acted like it was something I had to do. I got next to people, not so bad that they’d get mad at me. Just so they might cheer up.

One woman, who initially came in using a walker, took note of Gary’s hijinks and commented that he liked to have fun. That idea must have settled well in her mind because sometime later, she came to the center and touched Gary’s shoulder. He noticed right away that she was walking unassisted. She had to come to tell him what she did the night before:

“I went ballroom dancing and it was all because of you.”

I’m very glad that Gary came to fix my garage door.

By LK

My moment…

By Tony W.

For me, it was the moment I realized that I was going to have to change the thought process I went through each morning as I prepared for the day.

You see, for as long as I could remember I had been looking at myself in the mirror and thinking something along the lines of, “Yeah, you still look pretty good.” But actually that was code for “You don’t look old yet.” (Even in my thoughts I didn’t want to use the “O” word.) And based on my daily perception of what I was seeing in the mirror, it didn’t seem like I was aging much.  However, all along there were almost imperceptible changes occurring — a small wrinkle here, a little sag there. Eventually, especially when looking at myself in family pictures through the years, it became increasingly obvious; whether I liked it or not, I was indeed looking older.

But that wasn’t my moment. No, that was more like a “S#?%! I am starting to look older, better start taking better care of myself, better start using sunscreen, better start working out” kind of thing.  A call to arms to fight the effects of aging, with my mirror providing daily reports from the battlefield.

My actual moment came later when I realized that no matter what I did or how hard I tried, I was still going to look a little older every year/month/week/day. It is part of being human and it can’t be stopped, apparently not even if you are rich and famous like Mick Jagger or John Travolta.

And since aging is inevitable, I had better not be judging how good I feel about myself by whether the person looking back from the mirror each morning looks older than he did a day, week, month, year, or decade ago. Much better to set my sights each day on things I actually can control, instead of worrying about the impossible task of not growing older.

That was my moment, and since then I’ve made a conscious effort to reprogram my thinking about growing older. It’s not a battle, it’s not something to be feared or something to be sad about; it’s just an inevitable part of life for all of us. But of course, changing a thought process long held is easier said than done. I have found that, just like my appearance — and the appearance of all those around me, it’s a work in progress.

Younger Tony
A Younger Tony
Older Tony
An Older Tony