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Snail Mail and Sunscreen

Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. (Genesis 24:61)

We all spend a lot of time getting ready. We get ready for work, ready for school, ready for dinner, ready to work out and on the list goes. In fact, just about everything we do in life requires a time of preparation. Pam and I love to kayak but it took many years for us to find a pursuit we could do together. We know the research that says couples who are active have better relationships because their stress level is lower and they consistently create mutual memories. We wholeheartedly agreed with this concept but had a hard time finding the activity we could agree on. I (Pam) love classes that include scripted workouts and dance moves. I (Bill) have attended enough of these classes to know I don’t enjoy them. I (Bill) like activities that include running. I (Pam) have discovered running does not match my spontaneous personality.

We were about to conclude we would never find anything when we discovered kayaking. We were introduced to the sport by Pam’s good friend Debbie who is a certified guide in Alaska. On a trip led by her, we found we work well together on a kayak, love being outdoors and are equally proficient at the skill. We responded to the success by making it a consistent part of our weekly routine. It has become even easier since we moved onto a boat. In fact, we habitually do kayak runs to pick up our mail.

One of the keys to every run is preparation. We kayak enough to think we could just have everything ready so we can push off the dock on a moment’s notice but that is not how life works. Every time we leave the dock, we have to put on sunscreen, choose hats, gather life jackets, pack our mail and stage the kayak. Every step is vital to the success of the trip.

The story of Isaac and Rebekah may sound strange in our modern culture but it is one of the classic romantic stories of history. Isaac’s dad, Abraham, wanted the best for his son. In a nomadically agricultural society, families were limited in their social contacts. It was, therefore, common for loving parents to seek out a suitable life partner for their grown children. They would invest significant resources and time to find someone who was reliable, culturally compatible and mature. Abraham’s representative found all these traits in Rebekah and her family concluded Abraham’s family was reputable and committed enough to warrant the privilege of marring their beloved daughter and sister.

Having concluded this was a smart move, “Rebekah and her attendants got ready . . .”  They couldn’t instantly leave, they had to get ready.

This is just one more example of the priority of preparation in every earthly pursuit. Every time we kayak, we are reminded of this vital life lesson. Since we live at the ocean, we see a lot sunshine. We love the sun and enjoy the warmth. We also respect the fact that Ultraviolet rays can have a negative effect on our skin. Sunscreen needs to be put on every time if we want to avoid serious issues later on. It is nice to think we could preemptively put on sunscreen a few times and be protected for life. It simply doesn’t work that way.

Amazingly, marriage works by this same principle. Growth in our relationships takes daily compliments, consistent support and enduring curiosity about each other’s needs and perspective on life. There are days we all wish we could strategically say, “I love you and I am proud of you,” or give each other a mega-hug that would meet our needs for the rest of our lives. Love, however, is like sunscreen. It must be applied daily if it is going to survive the heat of life.

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