A rainbow will always stop me in my tracks—but a double rainbow—that is something special. A real partnership in marriage can be equally special and rare.
I met a young couple recently for breakfast to talk about ways to encourage marriages. He serves on a church staff, she’s a gifted artist, and together they parent 3 littles. They talked easily, trading off the responsibilities of their 3rd child—a precious little girl born with Down’s syndrome.
The mom has written about her sense that something was different about this baby, even in the womb. She had prayed at some point, asking God to only give her healthy children, as she feared her ability to parent a special needs child. She didn't believe she was cut out for the never ending demands that accompany children with special needs. Yet here was Baby E, clearly a source of joy as she happily devoured her pancakes, waving at every stranger that stopped to say hi.
In the course of talking about their marriage—challenges they have faced, and the people and resources that have helped them on their journey– the husband looked across the table and locked eyes with his wife. With a smile as big as Texas, he said, “We have a double rainbow marriage.”
We have a choice
Well, who wouldn’t want that, I thought at first. Yet, rainbows don’t appear without a storm, or at least some rain. Rainbows result when the light refracts through the raindrops, and appears in the color continuum we know as a rainbow. But a double rainbow? This is a little more rare, happening when the light is refracted twice, creating a second rainbow, whose colors are the inverse of the other. What a rich analogy was stored in his exuberant statement.
When the storms of life hit, and they hit everyone at some point—the good and bad, rich and poor, faithful and faithless—we have a choice. We can allow the light to shine through our tears of disappointment, creating something beautiful in the process. Or, we can close the blinds, cover our heads, try to keep any light out. And wither. That’s what happens when there is no light…life withers. Joy is absent.
My young friends are not withering in this journey of caring for Baby E. As if parenting isn’t hard enough, this little girl requires a dozen different specialists to care for her unique medical needs. And did I mention that they have 2 other children? It is clear within minutes of being around them that they are not in it alone. They lean on each other, and trade off when the other needs to focus. It is a beautiful picture of partnership.
If only one of them had chosen joy, there would still be something beautiful. But because they choose to partner in this journey–with each other, and with the God they follow–they present an image of marriage that is more rare. They portray love in action– the love that never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance (NLT, I Corinthians 13:7).
My friend says they were given a new set of glasses when Baby E was born—they have learned to see that there is joy they would have missed had they scripted their journey.
And they might have missed the double rainbow