Anniversaries are markers to remind you to remember.

Most anniversaries are pretty simple. June 6 is the anniversary of D-Day. September 11 is the anniversary of the terrorist attack in 2001. On those days, we look back at what happened to our nation and we feel either sadness or gratitude or a combination of both. Wedding anniversaries are more complex.

My wife Karen and I just celebrated the 38th anniversary since we stood in front of friends and families and made two promises. We made one promise to God and another promise to each other. The promises themselves were very similar. We promised to love each other for better or for worse.

Of course, we had no idea what that might mean. I was 21 years old with the maturity of a gerbil. If you could have heard the conversation in my head that day you would agree. I stood looking at Karen in all her beauty and innocence and thinking, “This woman is crazy about me. I’m crazy about me. We are perfect for each other.” Which is exactly how gerbils think.

Now nearly 4 decades later we both understand much more what it was we were promising and every August we stop and have a chance to look back on this life we have lived side by side.

Marriage is a high wire act. There are gusts of wind that no one sees coming. There are times when the rope can fray and balance is lost. The promise is like a net that makes it okay to be so high up. The promise means you don’t have to be perfect. When Karen has been less than perfect (I think that was twice but one of those times might have been my fault), then the net of the promise I made to her catches her. When I am more like a gerbil than a man, then the net of her promise catches me.

Anniversaries are times to look back and thank each other for the net and look forward to the years ahead because the net grows stronger, not weaker with use. I love being married and always have. Living in the safety of a promise made to you by someone you can trust is a wonderful thing. I also love being a Christian for much the same reason. I live with a net below the net. Jesus came to me a long time ago and told me he would never leave me and never forsake me no matter how gerbil-ish I would be.

If you have had a net break lately then take heart. Jesus never lets you fall all the way. If you are his then you have a net below the net, and there is nothing better than that.