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Peanut Butter and Jelly

We couldn't be more different, but we're an unbeatable combination.

"They should be here by now," my husband, Barry, remarked as we pedaled up the hill. Every day for a week, I'd heard this same lament: "I wonder where they are?"

Exactly who "they" were didn't matter. All Barry knew was that the anonymous traveling camper wasn't in its designated place, as it had been for the past five summers we'd been bicycling this particular route.

Most days find the two of us on our six-mile bicycling excursion around Wolf Point, on the west side of Lake Manitou, in Rochester, Indiana. Pedaling this scenic route, I've found that not only is the time I spend exercising good for me physically, but it also stimulates me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—allowing me time to appreciate the beauty of God's creation, as well as notice things that remind me of people, life-changing events, or lessons I've learned along the bumpy road of life.

Then there's Barry. While my imagination is busy playing a nostalgic game of memory tag, he's just waiting for the ride to end. For him, bicycling is exercise. Period.

My practical no-nonsense husband also notices things and believes it's his mission in life to "worry" about them.

"They better get that garbage can lid off their lawn," he remarked a few weeks ago. "It's going to kill the grass underneath."

Yesterday he detected a "flaw" in a renovation project just up the road: "Did you see how high that final step is from the ground? Someone's going to break their neck trying to use it."

I don't know why Barry notices the things he does or why he worries about them. Why, for instance, when I see the perfect canvas of a sapphire blue sky, he notices the one cloud creeping in from the north.

What I do know is that I adore this crazy man God has blessed me with.

I wasn't always so certain of that blessing. In fact, I almost chickened out of marrying him 36 years ago. He drove me home, a mere 150 miles, the day of my wedding shower, to announce to my frazzled mother that I was canceling the wedding.

I was so afraid of making a mistake. How did I know he was "the one"? How could I be sure it would last? I'd been through so much hurt as a result of my parents' divorce. And it seemed I knew few happily married couples.

For some reason I'll never understand, Barry stuck by this wishy-washy girl like peanut butter to jelly, unwavering and dependable, assuring me he knew it would work.

Although neither of us were Christians at the time, we went for counseling with a pastor who turned out to be a godsend—empathetic and perceptive.

After interviewing us separately, he informed Barry, "You're dealing with a highly emotional, sensitive, and unstable young lady (jelly). You'll need to be extremely gentle and understanding in your relationship with her."

Barry, being the peanut butter type, didn't flinch. And the wedding was rescheduled.

Even so, the morning of the ceremony, I awoke to send out one more frantic plea to a God I hoped existed: "If you don't want me to do this, stop it somehow!"

I waited for some sign, a lightning bolt perhaps, but nothing came. So squirming and wobbling, I walked down that aisle.

It was the second-best decision I've ever made, the first being the day three years later when I, along with Barry, asked Jesus Christ to be the "Bread of Life" that would hold our peanut butter and jelly sandwich together.

Sure, we each think the other is "weird" upon occasion. But we also deeply love and respect each other, more so every year. We made a decision long ago that peanut butter and jelly go great together.

By itself, peanut butter (Barry) is a little too "dry" and needs jelly (yours truly) to add some fruity zing to its bland texture.

Jelly, on the other hand, requires the salty contrast and stabilizing influence of the peanut butter or it (she) tends to slip and wriggle all over the place.

Eugene Peterson's The Message paints a succulent picture of marriage: "A man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh" (Matthew 19:5). Likewise, peanut butter and jelly bond perfectly into one yummy sandwich—just like Barry and me—an unbeatable combination!

Donna Frisinger, a freelance writer, and Barry have been married 36 years.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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