*Disclaimer: It may be best to read this after seeing the new movie UP, both to avoid giveaways and to understand what I’m describing.
If you were to ask anyone, stranger or friend, about what they consider an adventure to be, very few would reply “a relationship.” You’re far more likely to get answers about hiking in the Amazon, climbing Mt. Everest, or exploring the Mayan ruins.
And who could blame them for thinking the great outdoors hold the keys to most thrills? Earth is essentially a giant piñata awaiting a bat-wielding person to reveal hidden treasures. Until last year, I completely believed the outdoor-definition of adventure. I clung to the ideal that unless I traversed the far reaches of the world, I was settling for a mind-numbing existence.
Being with Mike has taught me that sacrificing my plans can actually lead to a different adventure, a much greater adventure: the adventure of intimacy.
But who cares about that? Where in our society is there an example of marriage being EXCITING, of all things? This is why it’s such a surprise that the central theme for the animated movie “UP” is that adventure can be found in a relationship, in a marriage, as much as it can be found traveling the world.
The trailers for the film show a septuagenarian soaring in his home suspended by a thousand brilliant balloons, headed for the wilds of South America. However, the story is infinitely richer and more multilayered than the simplistic journey of an old man.
In the first wordless five minutes, the filmmakers display a portrait of a marriage spanning fifty years in images so poignant they brought me to tears. I glanced sideways at Mike and could see the glisten of moist eyes behind his 3-D glasses. We both realized their relationship held so much of what we want for ours.
But I think the reason this movie struck me so deeply is that I sometimes battle the feeling that I am missing out. Many of my extended friends are exploring Machu Picchu, serving the poor in Ethiopia, and heading to China for graduate degrees – they are LIVING. And everywhere you look it seems that married people are not.
Which is exactly why I didn’t want to get married, or even have a boyfriend, until I was thirty. I had a list of things to accomplish (literally, a Word document titled “Things to Accomplish Before I’m 30”) and I wasn’t going to let any man halt my plans. I knew that the moment a ring was on my finger, all of my adventures would be over.
I was so wrong.
My adventures, even wild ones like cliff-jumping off waterfalls in Kauai, tempted to distract me from ever experiencing one of God’s greatest intentions for us – intimacy with other people.
In the book “Sex God,” Rob Bell writes, “We want someone to see us exactly as we are and still love us.” It would be incredible to show Mike the adventures I’ve been on, because I know he’d be impressed and want to know more about me. It would be harder to show Mike who I truly am, without any accomplishments, and still be loved by him — but that’s exactly what God wants me to do. Because once I let Mike love me, I might be better at letting God love me.
Now when I tell Mike my ideas for adventure and desires for our life, it means that I trust him to hold onto them. It means that he’ll work with me to make them happen. And it means that they aren’t just mine anymore; they’re ours to live side-by-side.
What I didn’t know before, and what I’m just learning now, is that by sacrificing my plans I’m opening myself up to more excitement. I don’t know what’s ahead, but I know who’s going there with me.
It scares me. It’s unsettling. But it’s exciting.
The most surprising aspect of most of our mutual “dreams” is that they have nothing to do with physical attainment. We have normal dreams of travel, entrepreneurship, and having children, but most of our ideas for adventure are for our relationship.
We talk about how we will get to a place of trust that is unshakable. We dream of total openness where we can share ANYTHING and feel safe. We imagine the richest intimacy possible in this life before heaven. That is an adventure.
And the most rewarding part of the adventure, in my opinion, is exploring the person. In my case, it’s the endless journey of finding out who Mike is, what makes him tick, what he loves, hates, and how I can be the best partner for him. It’s so much more intense than it appears.
If I’m really dedicated, truly trying to reach a level of intimacy neither of us has ever known, it takes all I have.
What could be more adventurous than giving someone all of me?