Courtney Ball

The Miracle of Merging

Next week, Emmy and I will have been married fourteen years.

I have now known Emmy for more of my life than I have not known her. Or, to put it another way, I’ve been with Emmy for the better part of my life.

As we approach our fourteenth wedding anniversary, I think again about Genesis 2:24, where it says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (For certain verses, I like that old King James Version.)

There have been many moments when Emmy and I held each other so closely, so tightly, that our bodies were pressed together and still we squeezed harder, wishing that somehow we could simply melt into one another. We cleaved, and we wanted to be one flesh. Those experiences are holy, and I can see why that sentiment made it into the Bible so long ago. The miracle of merging.

I remember one time when Emmy and I were talking about this intense desire for closeness, for the ability to become one flesh, and she said something like, “You know, that’s what happens when you have children. Literally, your flesh merges with mine, and out of that comes this new person.” I had never thought of it that way before.

Now, I’m not one of those narrow-minded traditionalists who say that love can only find its fullest expression in the raising of children within a Christian home led by a married heterosexual couple. Actually, I am a great believer in love’s ability to take its full shape in any relationship. That’s part of what makes love divine.

Still, that old model has worked pretty well for Emmy and me. We lucked out when we found each other and decided to create a family together. I honestly couldn’t have hoped for a better marriage. And our kids—the flesh-and-blood results of our “cleaving”—words can’t even describe how much I love them. They hold more power over my heart than anyone else ever could.

Not that we don’t all have our issues. Even in this amazingly wonderful marriage, there have been a few times when I seriously worried that it all might fall apart. Marriage doesn’t make us more than human. We still get angry, lonely, depressed, or bored. And it’s easy for me when I’m feeling that way to point the finger of blame at those closest to me. I’d much rather get sullen and cranky than take that necessary, hard look at myself.

Luckily for me, Emmy and I have not actually merged into one flesh. She is independent enough from me that she can see when I’m getting off-kilter, looking at the world through a messed up lens. She’ll only put up with so much of my crap. Then she’ll tell me the truth even when it hurts, because she loves me. And because I love her, I will eventually, begrudgingly listen.

We work on it, and our dissonance gets sorted out. We gradually return to a measure of harmony. Those are sweet, redemptive moments. More cleaving.

Emmy used to tell me I live a charmed life, that things always seem to work out for me. That may be true. For whatever reason, I do seem to have received more than my fair share of blessings. The best evidence I have for this is that even with the infinite number of possible situations into which this universe could have thrown me, I somehow found her. And through this miraculous merger of our two lives, we made this family together, full of love.

Happy (almost) anniversary, Em.


Thanks, Hannah and Greg White, for a nice afternoon at the orchard, and for the relaxed family photo.

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Courtney Ball

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