Is it possible to practice a deep sense of awe and an attitude of gratitude in the ordinary moments of marriage?
Something sacred happens every year when my husband, Chris, and I get away, just the two of us. Don’t get me wrong, we love family trips with all five of our children in tow, but as any parent knows, a vacation with kids doesn’t technically count as a vacation. So we’ve made it an annual goal to enjoy each other free of interruptions and find fresh vision for the year ahead. We always come back relaxed and recharged.
One of our favorite midyear getaways is Lake Tahoe, California. Surrounded by the majestic mountains and the breathtaking redwoods, the warmth of the sun, the sweet sound of rushing water — somehow it all mixes together to become holy ground for us. We love to float down a nearby river’s slow and steady current as it takes us through the most breathtaking views imaginable. Every time we catch our first glimpse of the scenery, we can’t help but be flooded with a deep sense of awe. Inevitably, we look at each other and say, “Yep. This is it. Right here. It just doesn’t get any better than this.”
No effort is required to practice awe and wonder in these special moments. But what about the rest of our days? Is it possible to practice a deep sense of awe and an attitude of gratitude in the ordinary moments of our lives? Whether you’re deeply in awe of the gift of your spouse, or just grateful that you even survived another day together, this practice of awe is available to all of us.
Awe is a choice
Many of us tend to associate awe with the grandest moments in our lives: The moment we catch our spouse’s eye as he waits at the altar on our wedding day; seeing our newborn for the first time; catching sight of a glowing sunset or being in the presence of something that takes our breath away.
But what we may not realize is that every morning we wake up, we have a choice. We can offer thanks for another day or merely survive it. We can look at our spouse as a fixed part of our ordinary life or as a remarkable person given to us by God to be discovered and enjoyed. We can lean fully into the remarkable gift of getting to love another person for a lifetime or believe the lie that we’re just stuck with each other. The choice belongs to us.
I don’t know about you, but there are definitely days when I don’t automatically respond with grand feelings of awe toward my spouse. I’m working on it. But what I’ve learned is that in those moments, praying for what I lack is always the best place to start. When I pray to see my spouse with eyes of awe and wonder, to see the beauty wrapped in the mundane moments of this life we’ve been given together, it transforms my attitude.
Awe is a perspective
When I practice a regular rhythm of awe, it gives me a different lens with which to view the world, to view my spouse and to view the life we’re building together.
Recently, I happened to look up from washing the dishes. Out the window, I caught a glimpse of Chris attempting flips on the trampoline with our 7-year-old. The joy emanating from their faces reminded me of what an incredible dad Chris is. Instead of brushing it off, I let the gratitude of the moment wash over me.
The truth is, opportunities to practice awe are hidden all around us every day. It could be your spouse shuffling down the stairs in search of that first sip of coffee, saying yes to a slow dance in the kitchen, or sipping a glass of tea on the deck as the sun sets.
Practicing the rhythm of awe and an attitude of gratitude means keeping our eyes open to the beauty and wonder hidden throughout our days. We need to train our eyes to see each day as a gift, but we don’t get to enjoy it if we’re too busy to slow down and unwrap it.
Awe is cultivated in quiet
There’s simply no way to nurture a spirit of awe and wonder in our lives if we’re rushing through them. Think back on your week. Are there specific moments where you found yourself in a hurry? What would it look like to intentionally slow down in those moments? When Chris and I did what we like to call a hurry inventory, we found that, like a lot of families, we are most rushed in the mornings: racing to get kids dressed, finding lost shoes, packing lunches, and finally speeding out the door. In an effort to slow our mornings, we began doing a little prep work the night before: laying out the next day’s outfits, packing backpacks, and assembling lunches.
It’s incredible what a little intentionality can do to transform the morning from sheer chaos to being enjoyable. When I intentionally work to slow down and be present in the moment with those I love, my eyes automatically open to the opportunities for awe hidden around me.
Awe grows through gratitude
What Chris and I have discovered after nearly 20 years of marriage is that practicing a regular rhythm of awe is not only possible, it’s actually the secret sauce to a truly thriving marriage. And sitting at the feet of many older, wiser couples shows us how these rhythms play out long term.
These remarkable couples maintain a profound humility, an ongoing attitude of gratitude, and a growing curiosity toward each other. They’ve stayed in awe. The opportunity to love someone for a lifetime is a beautiful blessing.
The truth is, awe is always available to us because God is with us. When I humbly surrender my shortcomings to God, pray for eyes to see the mundane moments as unique, and offer up a prayer of gratitude for my husband, I am awakened to the reality that there are a finite number of mornings I’ve been given to wake up next to Chris. Like a flower that blooms and withers — we are here for just a moment. What a gift.
Awe is worthy of celebration
Loving my spouse well means pausing regularly to notice and celebrate the best parts of who he’s becoming. Cherishing those hidden attributes can free him from the box I may have put him in. Maintaining a sense of awe and wonder toward our spouse empowers him or her to grow and to try new things that might fit better in this new season.
For instance, when Chris and I first met as young 20-somethings, I was singing in a Christian pop band, wearing pleather pants, and occasionally rapping. (I know, it was the early 2000s!) Chris was climbing icebergs and bungee jumping off cliffs as a cast member on several reality TV shows. Over the years, we’ve given each other permission to try on all kinds of new things and discover more about who God’s created us to be. It’s one of the greatest gifts of marriage: to have a front row seat to the wild adventure of our spouse’s life! Cheering each other on in every season; fiercely committing to love and to support each other along the way.
That rhythm of celebrating, both the big and the little things in each other and in our shared life together, creates a culture where we feel free to become our best. Where our gifts are celebrated and cherished, we can grow together into the life we long for. May you slow down long enough to relish even the ordinary moments where you can’t help but turn to your spouse and say, “Yep. This is it. Right here. It just doesn’t get any better than this.”
© 2022 Jenni Graebe. Used by permission. All rights reserved.