The gas gauge on our car has been broken for some time. Because the vehicle has 225,000 miles on it, we didn’t see the wisdom in spending money repairing it since we hoped to buy another car in the not too distant future.
But when we fill the gas tank, we make sure we reset the trip meter for the mileage we anticipate and then refill when the numbers roll over to that mark.
My husband Jerry and I observe twenty-five years of marriage this month. We hope to take a short trip to celebrate later in the summer, but we did want to observe the day, especially since some wonderful folks gave us a gift card to a nice restaurant.
So, on the evening of our anniversary, we get in the car for the short ten-minute ride to the restaurant.
About the time we reach the YMCA—sputter, sputter, sputter.
Jerry pulls in the parking lot—sputter, sputter, sput…
The car dies just as we roll into a parking space.
I’m no mechanic, but I’ve heard that sound before. I’m having flashbacks of almost running out of gas in the remote Delaware Water Gap a few years back. At least we’re only a few miles from home. I could walk if I had to. Hated to ruin my metallic sandals though.
Jerry tries to crank the car. The engine won’t turn. “Must have forgotten to reset the trip meter.”
We called our son to come help us.
Meanwhile, I’m thinking of how I might find humor in the situation. It’s hot, and perspiration runs down my back. My formerly crisp white linen pants are starting to wilt, just like me.
“Happy Anniversary,” Jerry said pitifully.
I surveyed the empty YMCA parking lot. “I wish I could see something funny about this.”
I called a friend who seems to be able to find a laugh in any circumstance, and told her about our dilemma. She didn’t think it was that humorous either, but since she was closer to us geographically than my son was, she offered to bring us gas.
In a short while, my friend pulls up, her son rolls down the window on the passenger side, and hands us a gas can. He has three cooked sweet potatoes on a plate in his lap. I have no idea why. She has one of my books in her hand as she hops out. “Can you sign this?”
As I sign the book, Jerry pours the gas in, just as my son, who was already on his way pulls up.
He’s trying to keep his composure as he points to a nearby practice field. “Mom, if you had a blanket, you could just spread it over there and have a picnic.” He grins.
I tried to see spending my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary on the soccer fields at the YMCA. I couldn’t. But I hadn’t imagined I’d spend it in the parking lot either.
With the gas in, the car cranks, and everybody goes their way.
Our wait at the restaurant was much shorter than we anticipated, and we ran into precious friends from out of town that we would’ve missed had we been earlier.
The anniversary didn’t go as planned, but it will be memorable--like our marriage. Like everyone’s marriage. It never goes as planned. There are joys and heartaches and triumphs and tragedies and bliss and disappointments and health and sickness and so much more that we never see when starting out.
Sometimes we run out of gas around year seven or thirteen or twenty-one. We look at each other and think we’ve said all we have to say, we’re so over the snoring, and what were we thinking anyway?
How will we ever make it to ten, or fifteen, much less twenty-five?
So, here are a few tips on how we did it.
1. Pray together every night. It’s nearly impossible to go to bed mad or with things undone if you know you’re going to have to pray together.
2. Have adventures. It doesn’t have to be a world cruise. Always on a tight budget, we’ve had to get creative, but we’ve tried to have little adventures even if it’s just eating lunch in an unique restaurant with a half price coupon.
3. Revisit memorable places. Holding on to the threads, which have been part of the weft and warp of our lives, gives us a sense of continuity.
4. Read old love letters. Helps us remember why we fell in love and enables us to recapture the magic of those days.
5. Cling to Jesus. At a low point in a marriage, amidst heartache and tragedy, or when everything about the relationships seems to be going south, sometimes, we just need to hold on to Jesus. Because if we are faithful to Jesus, we will be faithful to all others. And for very sure, Jesus will be faithful to us.
We’re looking forward to the next twenty-five years, but keeping a close watch on the trip meter, though.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).