A Thousand Miles in a Single Sentence

There's an old song by The Proclaimers called "I'm Gonna Be" (also known as the "500 miles" song) that has been a favorite of mine since the original Shrek movie came out. The chorus made me swoon every time I heard it:

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

Those grand gestures have a way of capturing my heart and leading me to believe, "Now this. This is love." And then, unfortunately, it morphs into statements like, "If Craig really loved me, he'd do _________." And it's not limited to how far he'd walk for me.

If he really loved me, he'd bring me flowers when he stops at the store.

If he really loved me, he'd plan a date night (including childcare!) without me having to ask.

If he really loved me, he'd ask me to pray with him.

If he really loved me, he'd be excited about planning my 40th birthday party where he would sing this song in a private party room on a stage in a restaurant with a band that he put together. All while keeping me surprised. 

(I laugh as I type the last one because I did actually ask him to do that. He does still have time to make it happen.)

I never paid too much attention to the verses. I didn't wear hearing aids in 2001 when the movie came out and The Proclaimers are Scottish (thick accents don't do much for the hearing-impaired). But when the song came on in the car the other day, I pulled up the lyrics. Look at two of the verses:

When I wake up, well I know I'm gonna be,
I'm gonna be the man who wakes up next you
When I go out, yeah I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who goes along with you
If I get drunk, well I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who gets drunk next to you
And if I haver up, yeah I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who's havering to you

When I'm working, yes I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who's working hard for you
And when the money, comes in for the work I do
I'll pass almost every penny on to you
When I come home (when I come home) well I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who comes back home to you
And if I grow-old (when I grow-old) well I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who's growing old with you

I read through the verses (but not while I was driving) and I realized this:

All these small, daily displays of love total up to walking a thousand miles every day. It's not walking a thousand miles once. It's walking a thousand miles every day. It's not one big grand gesture a year. Love is small gestures daily. 

Every day when he chooses to wake up next to me.

Every day when he chooses to go out with me.

{Skipping the next two because we're past the point of getting drunk and I'm not quite clear on the concept of "havering up."}

Every day when he goes to work. Every day when he works hard.

Every day when the direct deposit goes into our bank account and I manage it for our family.

Every day when he chooses to come home to me.

Every day when he chooses to grow old with me.

On a daily basis, my husband chooses me. And I'm sure he doesn't always want to. But that's what love does—chooses rightly even when you don't want to.

And yes, this is grand! How much time have I wasted growing bitter or resentful because I can quickly grow to take these things for granted? Instead of reveling in the enormity of love—all those small decisions to commit to me, to grow with me, to love me that make up the miles of our lives—I look around me at what other people might get. I compare. I contrast. I weigh. I grow discontent with what I have, looking at someone else's journey of a thousand miles, and feeling like the one that Craig walked doesn't measure up.

But I can tell that God is growing me, that my heart is starting to record the daily ticks on our marriage odometer. I finished a big project this week and feel like I'm on a work hangover. (Translation: I've been really grumpy the past two days.) The four of us were at the dinner table and I could feel my fists clench as my oldest smacked her food and my youngest kept tapping me on the shoulder. Craig saw me sigh and close my eyes and with one simple phrase, he filled my heart:

"Kids, give your mother some peace. She's really worn out."

He intervened in a gentle way. He validated my fatigue. He gave me grace for not being able to pull off a good mood.

In a single sentence, it was if he had walked a thousand miles and fallen at my door.

Love is sacrificial. But when we start taking these daily sacrifices that love requires for granted, we stop receiving the love intended for us. And because we are human, we then begin withholding the love we're intended to give. And where there is an absence of love, there is an absence of grace.

That is one road on which I cannot walk. And neither can you. To live without the giving and receiving of grace is like living without oxygen. You cannot live and grow and change without breath and your relationship cannot breathe and grow and change without grace.

There's a place for grand gestures (hello, 40th birthday party), but I will no longer allow them to overshadow or carry more weight than the daily sacrifices that love makes. Because it's those that keep us coming home. It's those that keep us growing old together.