From the Hills: Our Return to Semiahmoo

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When our church reserved a block of seats for a marriage conference at Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine, I said, “Husband, let’s go.” We honeymooned there almost 25 years ago. For us, Semiahmoo was an opportunity to deliberately remember where we began our life together. What have we learned? How has marriage changed us?

Additionally, we’ve reached an age where “finishing well” requires intentionality. What do we want to accomplish with the time remaining? What legacy do we want to leave behind?

Semiahmoo didn’t disappoint.

There are lots of reasons why couples get married: romantic love, financial improvement, sex, fear of being alone, a desire to raise children in a home that reflects our values. Regardless of the reason, each of us has a deep desire for “one-ness.” We have a God-gifted desire to find someone we can trust, someone who “gets us,” and who consistently “has our back.”

In the biblical sense, Husband and I became “one” at our wedding. However, the “one-ness” we appreciate today took time to develop. 

Relationships often resemble riding a tandem bicycle. When both people pedal, they travel farther faster. They take turns sitting in front. For us, some roads need Husband’s analytical mind and keen sense of direction. Other trips are much more colorful when I steer, drawing from my life experiences, intuition and perspectives. 

We’ve learned that when we bicker about who is the better navigator and who pedals strongest, we hardly move at all. And when we are traveling and both stop pedaling, we eventually lose our balance and risk falling completely off the road and into a ditch. 

A tandem bicycle is not two unicycles sloppily tied together. It is two committed bikers who ride on the same bike. Together they travel through life sharing the vistas and challenges of a road God designed specifically for them. Every couple’s journey is unique.  

Sydney Harris wrote, “Almost no one is foolish enough to imagine that he automatically deserves great success in any field of activity; yet almost everyone believes that he automatically deserves success in marriage.” 

The opposite was true for us. Because we had each been married previously, we knew the illusions and pitfalls of achieving “one-ness.” Maybe that is why we have pedaled together — every single day, every single road. Sometimes it would have been more fun to go shopping.

Semiahmoo gave us an opportunity to look back at the road and see how far we’ve come. 

God has a purpose for marriage. Like iron sharpening iron, husbands and wives are supposed to grate on each other sometimes. Through conflict resolution there is an opportunity to be better versions of ourselves. Husband knows my flaws better than any other living person. He also knows my strengths. In a healthy relationship, there is opportunity for both grace and celebration.

Saturday night we set our goals, making lists of what needs to be done before God takes either of us home. That conversation felt gentler waiting for a dinner pizza.

Twenty-five years with Husband has taught me that God’s love is not performance-based. He doesn’t make a contract with His people, but a covenant — a permanent vow — to love unconditionally for a lifetime. God designed marriage to reflect that same kind of commitment. Ours does.

“I take thee, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and I pledge myself to you.” (Traditional vows.)

I came home filled with gratitude.

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Sylvia Peterson is former co-pastor for Bald Hill Community Church and the author of “The Red Door: Where Hurt and Holiness Collide,” which can be purchased at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. She and her husband are chaplains for the Bald Hills Fire Department. You can email her at sylviap7@comcast.net.

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