I don’t know how long it takes to fall in love with someone. But I do know precisely when it started: under the gazebo on our first date.
We were munching on the picnic you brought, and as I took a bite of pineapple, a thought ran through my mind: This man treats everyone with kindness and respect. And I was right.
Who would have thought, nine years ago, that we would someday be married and have a baby and live within walking distance of that very gazebo? (Okay, I was secretly hoping those first two would come true, but number three was a surprise.)
This might sound strange, but after we moved into our house and I realized how close it was to our first date spot, I was a little worried. Would the place become too ordinary somehow? Would I cease to see it as a sacred space, commemorating the origin of the Daniel and Stephanie Team?
Truth be told, I was a little nervous that the same might be true of marriage too. Would the sacredness of love wear off amid the ordinariness of life? Would I start taking it for granted if we brushed our teeth at the same sink and paid the water bill together and picked up each other’s dirty socks? Would our love become mundane?
But almost a decade into this, I’ve discovered that the best love is the kind that’s found in the beautiful ordinary.
Ordinary love is the way you load my toothbrush every night. (And the way you inevitably make me laugh with a mouthful of toothpaste.)
Ordinary love is the way you change the oil in our cars and change our son’s diapers.
Ordinary love is the way you fix the leaking ceiling and take out the trash and rush home for family walks after work.
Ordinary love is the way you play the guitar for us after dinner and the way you put chocolate chips in the Saturday-morning pancakes.
Annie Dillard says, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.” So I suppose we don’t have to wait for grand gestures or epic moments to build something beautiful. These ordinary moments that we’re stringing together, one day at a time, are creating a life of love.
When Graham and I go on walks to the library, we sometimes pass the first date spot. Almost without fail, I point it out to him. “See that gazebo?” I say. “That’s where Mama and Daddy went on their first date.” Although he’s too young to roll his eyes, I’m sure that day will come. But that’s okay. Because we are writing this story of ordinary love together, and he is part of it.
How long does it take to fall in love? I propose that it takes a lifetime of ordinary moments, stitched together with toothpaste and laundry and chocolate chip pancakes.
God’s great love and purposes for us are all worked out in messes in our kitchens and backyards, in storms and sins, blue skies, the daily work and dreams of our common lives.Frederick Buechner