It's funny, the difference between what we are given and what we earn. I read an article once about mission workers in an African country who gave people water pumps in areas where they would otherwise have to walk miles for clean water. When the workers returned later, many of the pumps sat broken from neglect or missing pieces that were more valuable to sell for scrap. Later, this same missions group began selling the pumps for a few American dollars. Often, neighbors bought the pumps together, sometimes whole villages. When the workers returned to check on the families, the pumps were usually working and were a valuable asset to the family, group, or village.
The same is true with me and my family. I see more care taken with possessions that required a bit of effort or a delay of gratification. Items that my children have saved or worked for are prized over those handed them on Christmas morning or in the heat of the moment on a trip to the bigbox. Though I am so grateful for all the wonderful gifts I have received in my life, and there have been many, it's the things we have won for ourselves that mean the most.
Most certainly, it's the love. Twenty years ago it was easy. The love and companionship came easily. The hours of planning made it seem that we would always be on the same page, always have the same interests and goals. We were given a great opportunity at a great love. But, the reward has not been the initial gift. The reward comes in the moving away and the sometimes deep water, upstream wading to come together again. There's a comfort in what we were given. That is what makes us want to keep working through the rapids to get back to the calm straights...and we always do. That is the reward...the value is in that reward.