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A dad's perspective ... 'in the long run'

Looking back at 15 years of marriage

Posted: November 13, 2008 9:46 p.m.
Updated: November 14, 2008 4:55 a.m.
When it all comes down we will still come through. In the long run...
- Eagles, "The Long Run"

The dew from the ocean mist ran from the rough canvas tarp as I lifted it up. It wasn't that late and I could still hear the band playing. It definitely wasn't morning yet. I was just planning on taking a little nap at the side of the beach house. Then, I would go back out and join the party. "Eric, this is Kate" my best friend James told me. James was home from dental school and was celebrating with a party at his parents' beach house in Surfside. I rolled over and out from the rough canvas "blanket." I do not remember if I said hello or not, or if I looked at her with my bloodshot eyes. That was the first time I would meet the woman destined to be my wife - what a first impression!

I am in awe of how our Creator can give us so many chances. Subsequently, I would meet my future wife at least one more time without taking notice. Then the fateful day, at my best friend James' wedding reception, I looked into her eyes and that was it. It took some time to be willing to make the marriage commitment. I was going from staunch bachelor to being a married man. Then an awesome act of providence not only wiped my slate clean, but also gave me yet another second chance - when my house and all its belongings perished in the 1991 Painted Cave Fire disaster in Santa Barbara.

I seized upon this chance to change everything. I went from drunken surfer/party boy to sober-eyed learner, eager participant in life, and eventually Kate Christiansen's life-long husband. We now have 15 years of marriage and three incredible children. What did she see in me? How did she know I could crawl out of the proverbial canvas and rise up a day at a time to be a loving husband, her best friend and eventual nurturing father of our wonderful children?

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1.

It is with a leap of faith we meet a "stranger" and decide to spend the rest of our lives with them. We have no idea how they will react under the intense pressures that sometimes come with marriage. How do we know they are going to step up and become the mom and dad they need to be? How do we know they will still love us as we grow older and we change physically? It is both frustrating and wonderful that only the passage of time can reveal the truth and value of a commitment to faith. Faith without the passing of time is like cement without sand or water. That time builds history between us - the deaths of parents and the births of our children, the best of times and the worst of times.

Together we have built an incredible "home" based on a solid investment of faith, time and just plain nose-to-the-ground determination. It is a piece of work that is not easy to walk away from, even if it does spring an occasional leak or need the roof replaced.

I see so many marriages crumble at the least bit of resistance. It's like getting rid of the house if a window breaks. We have learned that love is not a feeling, but an action. In addition, I have realized that reliance on faith and time produces many gifts and I do not want to miss the promise of what's ahead.

I got a phone call last week from a good friend. He told me his wife, and mother of their 7-year-old daughter, has two to four months to live. I came home and cried when I looked at my wife. Oh, it is such a fine line we dance on.

All we have is today. Yesterday was history and tomorrow is a mystery.

It is in this moment I want to honor and love my wife for who she is and the faith she has in us.

Kate celebrated her 45th birthday last week and I took her to a bed and breakfast near the beach. I realized as way prayed together that we are both blessed with a shared faith in the eternal. Later that afternoon, when we were walking on the beach, I was compelled to get a picture of us, not just the two of us, but of us kissing.

I want the world to know that not only do I "love" this woman - she's my best friend - forever.

Eric Christiansen lives in Santa Clarita with his wife and three kids, where he directs and edits commercials and documentaries. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.


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