Seven years ago, July 16th fell on a Saturday. I woke up early in a house that wasn’t my own, surrounded by beautiful women who might have been just as tired as I was. If they were, they didn’t show it.
I had been waiting for this day officially for 10 months. Unofficially, I knew it had been in the works for much longer.
I was pretty young when I first started thinking about, and praying for, my future spouse. (Now, when you imagine that, imagine it as sort of a ‘mix-in’ at an ice cream place.. it wasn’t something I obsessed over, just something that came up here and there.) A lot of people called me ‘mature for my age’, but it seemed to me that I was just being myself - making attempts to think and feel clearly, and to process what my circumstances brought about - nothing special. The Lord led some really outstanding people (and books and singers) into my path that helped me to think about the kind of potential marriage had in my life, despite the fact that it was a long way off. I began to realize that the decisions I was making about things that seemed fairly trivial wouldn’t escape consequences in future relationships.
At the ripe old age of 14 or so, I decided I was finished. No more boys. I didn’t want to have anything to do with romantic (if you can call it that in junior high) activity until I was really sure the Lord had lead me to another person, and had led him to me. There was no guarantee I would get married, and though I hoped I would, it didn’t seem worth worrying about beyond trying to make wise decisions relationally in my daily encounters.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I failed. You can always assume that with me. I messed up in relationships with girls and guys alike. I hurt feelings, I felt the hunger for sexual attention, I said things I shouldn’t have, and I led people on. I was right there with every other teenager, desperately trying to figure out what was going on and what I was supposed to be doing.
The perspective on marriage that was developing was simmering on the backburner while I went about my business. And then one evening I met a new guy at Bible study and I actually thought to myself, ‘Wow, he’s pretty cute!’ That thought caught me off guard because it was so unhindered. And I found out later, it wouldn't really go away.
One thing led to another and that guy’s blue eyes were opened to his need for Jesus. He saw what I had seen in my own heart way back when. Emptiness, need, ache, brokenness, confusion. He needed a salve to help and heal. Someone who would listen and understand, even when things weren’t getting any clearer.
At some point along the way, he decided I was worth a second look. We weaved in and out of each other’s lives until eventually we were tangled enough that we decided to stick together. We made it romantical. And then we got confused. Our dating relationship makes me laugh, but it makes me so thankful. We worried about such funny things, like the semantics involved in announcing we were ‘dating’ vs. announcing we were ‘courting’. And whether or not it was really ok to go 62mph in a 60mph zone. But we also worried about our physical relationship, knowing that though we thought we would get married, there was no guarantee. We struggled to figure out where to draw the line and we cared about how our actions could affect the other’s future spouse if we didn’t get married.
We held hands a lot. I don’t know if it was the sense of togetherness or nearness or claim on one another that caused it, but we did. I remember one time, fingers interlocked as usual, I wiggled a finger from my other hand in between our coupled hands and whispered, ‘Do you know who’s in there?’ The look on Ian’s face told me he thought I was being funny. ‘Jesus,’ I said.
I cannot tell you how many times since then I have prayed that Jesus would always be at the center. Of our lives, of our relationship, of our family. My perspective on what that means has certainly grown and changed during the years following, but my prayer remains the same.
I could never have imagined the direction of the path I was choosing when I woke, bleary-eyed, on that Saturday morning. The anticipation of the immediate outweighed the anticipation of what lay ahead in the years to come. My unsuspecting, ever-optimistic self was assuming we’d settle down somewhere not too far, have a few kids, a dog, and a sunny life. So far, my assumptions haven’t been very accurate. And, as hard as it has been for me to say at times, I am thankful for that. My life wouldn’t be my life without my husband. I can’t imagine life without him because, aside from Jesus, he is the most influential part of it. I can’t believe where the last seven years have led us, but I am thankful for the many things they have brought us.
Each night when we go to bed, each and every night, the last thing we say is ‘I love you.’ ‘I love you, too.’ It is something I am sure of. Something that doesn’t change. And something I hope is still the same through the next seven years.
Happy anniversary, sweet hubby of mine. I love you.