To My Dear Husband
It's only been four years now since we said, "I do." How little did we truly know what that meant! When those words leaped from my mouth, wrapped in love and sincerity, I had no second thought. All my fears at that moment seemed to sail, vaporizing into thin air. With two tiny words I became strangely and contentedly whole. Though I stood on the edge of a deep chasm filled with mystery I reached fearlessly toward the sky. In the time it takes to breathe one breath, I soared above the clouds and embraced the stars. Never before that moment would I have been able to describe the power held in those two tiny words.
Now, four years later, I'm astounded at all that I did not know. You see when you first met me, fresh out of college and brimming with idealism, I thought I could think my way through any challenging situation. I sought out a spirited debate with any brave soul willing to take me on. And then you turned in my path rather unexpectedly. Finally, I'd found the foil I required to test my mettle. No matter which issue would arise, I aimed for the jugular and you answered with equal force. It was most pleasant parley. At last I had discovered a man who seemed truly interested in my point of view, no matter how flawed he may think it is. It mattered not to me that we didn't always agree. What I respected most was that you listened.
There's not a couple on earth (or the universe) who knew what to expect after they said, "I do." Many, like us, had an idea, and planned, anticipated and dreamed and...then life happened. Life, so unpredictable and often unstable, picked us up and threw us down. When things began to settle we found that many of our expectations lay in shattered pieces on the ground. To be married you have to say, "I do." It's just what has to be said. What would be the point of saying, "Well, I think I do," "I just don't know about life" or "I do if life works out the way it's supposed to" or "I do, but what if life happens..." I suppose we could have said something other than "I do" but I don't think I would have felt the same. That incredible joy that filled me from head to toe and leaked out of my eyes so freely, I don't think it would have been there had we said anything else. When I said, "I do" I knew life would happen. I knew we would face hard times. But "I do" solidified the promise that we would always work through these times together and we would be OK.
What amazes me is that we did what human couples do—we saw what we wanted to see in each other. I'm ashamed to think that I couldn't be smarter. One would think that after all of my studies on human behavior that I would not succumb to such blindness. And you, what were you thinking? I was not exactly neither a model Republican nor a diehard Army-wife type. At the same time I think we both saw a challenge and perhaps a palette upon which we could add some color. And that's not a bad thing. The hard part is coming to the realization and accepting that our palettes already had colors that we had chosen on our own before we knew each other. We were both well on our way to painting our own canvases, each one a different picture. I suppose had we been more intelligent we would have turned tail and run from such an unlikely union. Yet God led us ever closer until we knew that we could not be apart from each other.
I have said in the past that I don't know why God brought us together. I have resigned myself to never fully understanding that mystery. And when you look at where we come from and who we are, it is a huge mystery. Jeremiah prayed, "I know O Lord that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). Makes sense when you look at us. Later God answers Jeremiah in a message to the nation of Israel saying, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and will bring you back from captivity" (Jeremiah 29:11-14a). As I read this scripture I am given a new hope to hold onto because God gave this message to Israel while they were in captivity in Babylon. He encouraged them to "seek peace and prosperity" and told them that one day He would eventually bring them home. So while they looked about them and saw their hopes and dreams in shambles, God gave them direction and hope. He didn't take them out of Babylon and then tell them to be prosperous.
What does not amaze me is that we find ourselves facing the same challenges that many other married couples face. I'm not surprised that we have hurt each other and cried many tears and that there are more tears to come. However, I never took a class that taught me how to survive a proverbial knife in the heart. I never learned the right words to say when you are in pain and confused. I had no doubt that we would suffer trials. But one thing I held onto, despite what I knew would come, was that we said, "I do."
I did and I am—your wife. You did and you are—my husband. We are—married. There are those among us who would have us believe that such a commitment is conditional. I'm glad that God did not make the commitment of sending His Son to die for us conditional. After all, if anyone had every reason in the world to close the deal and rip up the contract, it would have been Him. He would have been fully justified had the promise not been kept. No, we have not committed our lives to the salvation of the world. On the other hand, we have committed our lives to each other and our Heavenly Father. And while the road has not been an easy one to travel and we feel as if we are being held captive in a city of uncertainty, God has promised to bless us—even in our captive state.
I'm glad we said "I do" and not "I do if..." I'm content resting in your arms knowing that my Heavenly Father gave them to you to hold me and to be my strength when I am weak. No, you can't always be there for me—but your love lives in my heart, keeping me warm when you are away. And during those hard times when we have forsaken each other, the One who brought us together can take us in His arms where we will rest and be strengthened. On this our anniversary, I want to thank you for loving me and for splashing some new color on my palette. My masterpiece is just beginning to take shape. Remember when I planted wild flowers last year, and I was so excited to see what new kind of flower would bloom? You could say our marriage is kind of like that. I have no idea what colors are yet to come, what experiences are yet to be lived. With each day the masterpiece becomes more complex and beautiful. I can't wait to see what it will be like when it's completed...or will it ever be? I hope not.