Thursday, July 21, 2011

I'd Tell Her This

I just thought of what I'd tell that girl.
The girl in the picture from 16 years ago.
The young, hopeful bride.
I'd tell that girl this:

You don't wonder at this moment how this is all going to work.
You don't wonder if you're going to be married 2 years from now or 15 years from now.
You are thinking forever.
But there will come a time when you will question it all.
There will come a time when the vows you are saying today will be the only reason you both stay.
There will be dark nights that you will wonder if you will be married tomorrow...or in a week...or in a year.
Hang on to this: On your 16th wedding anniversary, you will still be married. You will still be loving your husband. He will be talking of a new love for you---a love that wants to look more like how Christ loved the church.
You will make it 16 years.
You will make it 16 years.

That's what I'd tell her.

16 Years

16 years.
We've been married 16 years today.

It was a whirlwind romance. Three months to the engagement. Six months later we were married. Ten months total. Most of it long distance.
We were young. In love. Made for one another.
We breezed through counseling. Obvious match.
We barely listened to wiser people talk of the reality of marriage.
We were different.
We weren't going to struggle.
We were in love.

It was a grand wedding. Air Force Academy Chapel.
Lots of friends and family.
A big party. Lots of food. Lots of dancing.
The perfect day. It really was the perfect day.

We wrote our vows. Memorized most of them. So sweet. They were so easy to say. We would have promised anything that day. Of course we'd spend our life together. Of course we'd be together through the good times and bad. Of course we understood 1 Corinthians 13. We were in love.

I think our wedding was a testimony to the Lord. We wanted it to be. The pews were filled with friends and family that were non-Christians and we wanted the gospel shared. It was our day. We had all of their attention. This was our chance to witness. I think we did.

We have a big wedding picture in our bedroom. We were looking at it this morning. 16 years later. We were so young. Barely 20 and barely 22. Innocence and hope fill the picture. We radiate love. Unblemished. Unscathed. Hopeful. It's hard to believe it's us. They seem like strangers.

What would you tell that man in the picture? I asked my husband.
"I'd tell him not to forget you're depraved," he quickly answered. He must have thought about it before. Interesting answer.
"What would you tell that girl in the picture?"
I can't think of anything. Even now, I can't think of anything I'd tell her...anything I'd want myself to have known on that day. I don't want to burst her bubble. I want her to believe in love and marriage. Enjoy that day, Girl. The real work is going to begin tomorrow.

Somewhere down the road, we began to understand that anything involving a vow is going to be hard. Sometime in the last 16 years, we each renewed our vows. Not verbally. I don't even know exactly when I did. I don't know when my husband did either. But we did. A deep, gut steadfastness that this marriage was not going to be destroyed. Somewhere down this road, we decided that we really were going to stay. We really were in this for the long haul. We really were committed. And I think that's when we really began to fall in love.

16 years. I'm glad I didn't know on July 21, 1995 what those 16 years were going to look like. I was too young to know that the richness of this journey with this man was not going to always be easy. In fact, it would come at great cost. I was too young to know that loving was going to take a lifetime of learning. I was too young to value the parts of my husband that have been the most life-giving to me through these years.

I'd do it again. I'd marry him again. I'd walk the path again. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the broken, the whole, the life, the death. I'd do it all again. I wouldn't change a thing. Happy Anniversary.