Anniversary: Five Years of Hell

Someone vomits every year on our anniversary.

It’s true.

It’s not just because every single blessing we get talks about the work Heavenly Father plans for us and the adversary’s attacks to stop us.

We know we get our fair share of opposition, and that just encourages us to keep going.

But the vomit?  That’s more about the timing of flu shots every year.

And this year?  It was Nathan.

Poor Nathan has gotten puked on every single birthday since we were married, and someone has vomited every single anniversary.  It’s like they know that nothing is worse for Nathan about parenting, and so they just save it up all year just for him.

Except now he cannot blame anyone else, except Anber, who was sick exactly a week ago.

So that’s how we spent our anniversary, once again cleaning up vomit.  

Our gift to him was all of us going to the park all afternoon so he actually got some rest, and his gift to me was a short nap afterward.   Now that the children are tucked in bed, we will celebrate tonight with a mean game of Phase10.

Because we live pretty wild around here.

We have been married a whole five years.

People literally say to us, “Your life has been hell!”

Helpful, guys.  Really helpful.

At our sealing, the blessing said that “as you  act in faith by living lives of consecration, Satan himself will repeatedly attempt to knock your legs out from under you because he does not want you to succeed at what you are now setting out to do.”

Yeah.  Happy wedding day to us.

And it’s been that fun ever since.

Five years.

Five years of wedded bliss: hurricanes, job lay offs, miscarriage after miscarriage, cancer with chemo twice, hysterectomy by default, dead parents, crazy church assignments, eight billion thousand diapers, a gazabillion fosters, three moves in one big circle back to where we started, six adoptions, two years in hospitals, a year of overnight shifts away from each other, both of us working three jobs while publishing fourteen books so far, writing two other big ones on the way, plus two musicals, an opera, six plays, thirteen song lyrics, more than two hundred YouTube videos, a violin album on iTunes, an audiobook recorded, homeschooling all six kids, teaching them piano and violin everyday, thirty-seven therapy appointments a week, a baby on palliative care, financial ruin from dead parents and cancer and aforementioned toddler, and a partridge in a pear tree – no, wait, that sweet bird got taken by my nephew when my mother died, and Nathan’s parents have the dog.

It feels like it has been five lifetimes, not just five years.

Our life together these five years has basically been hell, by anyone’s standards.

Except that I have a husband who is authentically good and genuinely kind.

And I have a husband who is tender and soft and expressive.

And I have a husband who is respectful and wise and strong.

And I have a husband who is faithful, to me and to our God, which matters more than anything.

He lives worthy of the power we need to endure what we have, worthy to lay hands on my head and bless me with the vision and strength and capacity to continue this life we live.

He does not cause me pain, or tears, or fear.

He is beyond what I ever could have imagined was possible, and better than I ever could have dreamed up on my own.

He is my greatest blessing, ever, the very best thing ever to happen to me.

And if I am called to walk through five years of hell, then I am glad it is his hand I chose to hold, and I know it is his hand I will still be holding on the other side of this mess of mortality.

But also, we don’t really look at the hell through which we’ve been.

Because it’s irrelevant.

I only look in his eyes, and in them see whole eternities.

That’s what matters.

There is nothing I love more than holding his hand, or snuggling into him, or our late night talks at the end of our very hard days.

He is my best friend, and I trust him.

I love him.

And he says our only problem is that in premortality, when they passed out the forms to sign up for classes we would endure in mortality, we were just so googley-eyed excited that we checked all the boxes, to endure everything, instead of just selecting a few.

But we checked all the boxes because we really wanted to make it all the way back Home, together.

So maybe we used up all our money taking care of other people’s children.  And maybe we have to work so much that we spend more time apart than as much time as we would like to spend together.  And maybe when they say to consecrate even your very lives if necessary, they mean it.

So maybe our life together has been hell.

But at least we are getting it over with.

And if there was ever anyone good enough and pure enough and strong enough and wise enough and kind enough to walk me straight through the fires of affliction, faithful enough just to ensure I came through on the other side… that would be Nathan, who has never shirked from all we have faced, who has held my hand every step of the way, who has changed diapers and done dishes and helped with chores and run children to appointments and held me when our babies died and swept up my hair when it fell out and tucked children in at night when I was doing my calling away from home.

So yeah, it’s been a long and hard five years, an impossible five years.

But Nathan is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I love our little family very much no matter how hard it is.

I can’t exactly say I’m looking forward to another five, but, you know, I am glad we will still be holding hands.

Because eternity is worth it.

Even when mortality tries to smack that silly grin right off your face.

So thanks a lot, Nathan, for more than the adventure you promised, for still being here, and for marrying me in the temple of God for time and all eternity.

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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