It was the summer of 2004. Wes and I had known one another for five months and had been engaged for three months. (You do the math. Wow — I know, right?) At a time when it would have been smarter to be back in Fort Worth and hard at work towards our seminary degrees, towards wedding planning, and towards building up some savings for the early days of our marriage, we were spending the summer on an evangelism team in Beirut, Lebanon, handing out Arabic New Testaments on the Muslim side of the city.
The work was hard, discouraging, and not a lot of fun, honestly. One of the hardships of those nine weeks in that busy, gateway city to the Middle East was the high cost of… well, everything. It didn’t take us long to figure out that in order to last the whole summer without going completely broke, we probably needed to cut some corners somewhere. So we learned to be content with living on meals of relatively inexpensive manakeesh and shawarma that we ordered from street vendors, walking longer distances through the city instead of taking the taxis, and washing our own clothes in my tiny room’s bathtub. Yes, really.
I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to wash all of your clothes by hand before, but it’s quite a task. And every week, our laundry was quite a task. Especially when we spent all of our days walking around a dirty city, visiting people in homes that weren’t air conditioned in the stifling heat, and staying modestly covered, which meant long skirts and layered shirts for me and pants for Wes. We had so much filthy laundry every week that it took the better part of our day off for me to finish it all then hang it out to dry over my balcony… which probably made it dirty again, what with all the dirt that the traffic stirred up, the visible fumes constantly in the air, the smoke from the hookah lounges down below.
Oh, but I didn’t care. Because I was in LURRRRVE, y’all. And it was a THRILL for me to be able to do Wes’s laundry. Oh, I loved having him bring me all of his nasty shirts and grimy pants because taking care of those made me feel like I was already married to him. And his sweaty socks and boxers? Oh, man. Thrilling, y’all, even as I blushed to do them!
Here we are, eight years later, and would you believe it? The thrill isn’t… well, isn’t as thrilling. Sure, I’m still in LURRRRVE and all, but when he leaves his nasty, sweaty running clothes on the bathroom floor and they literally smell like someone died and started decomposing while wearing them? I don’t rejoice over washing them. Which is sad, because washing them here? Doesn’t take nearly the effort that it would have back before I was officially Mrs. Faulk, lovingly laboring over that tiny bathtub even though I was exhausted from so much hard, discouraging work. And though I’m sure Wes would deny it, there have to be some things about me that were once captivating that are no longer so exciting. That’s just to be expected after eight years together, right?
I’m taking care these days to remember, as we add even more days, months, and years to what we already have together, what it was like back then before we honestly knew any better. When we did our premarital counseling, the counselor told us that I was wearing rose-colored glasses and that I perhaps wasn’t seeing Wes for who he really was. He was right because back then? Wes could do nothing wrong, and I believed the best about him, no matter what. I came with the assumption that he always had good intentions, that he always meant well, and that even when we disagreed, his intent was to make things right as quickly as possible.
And those assumptions? Really are true even now… with the added complication that we’re both human. Would you believe that I don’t always assume those things anymore? Throw us in pastoral ministry, along with two kids, a mortgage, and life stresses we never imagined back in Beirut, and it’s not always easy to assume the best about one another, especially when we’re not always on our best behavior. Just the other day, I freaked out over the fact that he waited until the last minute to switch lanes in some really bad traffic, and as I was screeching over this, I had to stop and confess that honestly? I wouldn’t want to be married to me if that outburst was indicative of my normal behavior. (Which, sad to say, it IS.) Wes believes the best about me when he probably shouldn’t!
I’ve been reminded several times just this week alone how fortunate I am to have been made one in Christ with Wes and how woefully short my actions fall in showing how fortunate I feel. I’m remembering to assume the best, as he does the same for me, because, y’all, he IS THE BEST, and to remember what it was like to be thrilled by every little thing he did and still does…
… and to count myself lucky when I get to wash his stinky, stinky clothes.