Two years ago today, my wife and I said “I do,” and we’re not doing a thing to celebrate.

Why not?  First, we both work today, and second, we’re watching our finances, staying on-budget and paying off debt (you know, those boring details of married life that don’t get special days or cards or celebrations.)

For us, this is the best anniversary gift we can give each other, because by exercising restraint for the short term, we’re actually investing in our relationship for the long term…but that’s a topic for another day.

Third, because of our time and budget, we actually celebrated yesterday by driving around Southwest Florida and enjoying some of the simple (and inexpensive) pleasures we have in our own backyard.  We didn’t spend lots of money, but we did spend the whole day together, and that’s what made it special.

Yet, there’s another reason our modest anniversary plans haven’t been a bad thing for my wife and me, and it’s far deeper than schedules and spending.

I talk to people all the time that are disappointed the bright surface on their relationships faded, because they got together for the shine instead of the substance underneath.  It seems like many folks jump in to commitments expecting non-stop stellar moments, and then are dismayed to find it’s mostly just steady going.

For us, two whole years in (epic, I know), I’ve noticed something about our relationship that’s different from the ones I see in movies or the ones divorce lawyers see in their offices.  Through wise counsel, diligent work and the grace of God, we found a truth that makes sacrifices feel easier, or at least a lot more doable than they might be otherwise.

Here’s what we discovered: If you go in looking for the highlight reel, you’ll get out mostly disappointment, but if you expect the heavy lifting, then even little breaks will be a big delight.

You see, the fact that we didn’t get a whole weekend away in some exotic locale wasn’t a big deal, because that’s not why we got into this in the first place.  We committed to build a life, not just take a ride.  We devoted ourselves to seek the greatest good for each other, not just the most fun for ourselves.

For us, it’s not the mountaintops that bring us the most joy, but the moments in between, and that makes all the difference.

So, I don’t know what expectations you have for your current situation, but can I encourage you to try something?

Stop wishing for a never-ending string of weekends and welcome the rough, raw beauty of the daily grind.  When you learn to embrace it, you’ll find the little blessings that come your way won’t feel as much like drops of water in a mostly empty bucket; they’ll feel like diamonds in the dirt, far more precious and worth the wait.

–Pastor Phillip