Today is our eighth wedding anniversary. And, I really mean this not to sound cliche in any way shape or form, but I love John so much more today than I did the day we said “I do.” We have been through a heckuva lot in the past eight years and while the enemy would have tried to drive us apart, we were only brought closer together.
Just the other day we were talking about how when we first got married people would say to us, “Just you wait, the first year of marriage is the hardest.” And we got to the end of the first year and thought… “I dunno, that was pretty great.” We loved it.
Then people said, “NOPE, it’s actually the second year of marriage that is the hardest.”
So we got to the end of the second year of marriage and we thought, “Uhhh, that was also pretty great.”
And then people said, “WAIT TILL YOU HAVE KIDS!”
And again, we said, “Having kids has been pretty awesome.”
This continued to go on. We were warned about year 5, year 6 and of course, the 7 year “itch.” But nope.
Here’s the thing: I’m not saying that this just comes easily or naturally for us. I really don’t say this to make it sound like “SHEW THIS IS A BREEZE!” I honestly can sit here and say that marriage, for John and me, is amazing and fun and so wonderful and filled with joy and love and sorrow and every emotion because we actively pursue Jesus every day and we actively pursue each other. We have date nights regularly (both at-home! AND we go out). We are intentional about pursuing one another.
Just this past weekend we were at a marriage conference and I loved this analogy that was shared… think of your car – your car needs regular maintenance… oil changes, filled up with gas, 50,000 mile and 100,000 mile checkups, tires rotated, etc… If you DON’T maintain your car, what happens? It starts to run poorly and it starts to fall apart.
We begin to wait until there’s a problem before we take that vacation or see a counselor… We put our marriages on autopilot and we just coast. But then all of a sudden a wheel starts to go wobbly or the tread on the tires wears out or all of a sudden we are stranded on the side of a highway without any gas and the nearest gas station is 100 miles away.
Please hear me – if you are in a trouble spot in your marriage or if you have been divorced or in a broken relationship, PLEASE HEAR ME: I do not want you to feel shame or feel terrible. I want you to feel nothing but love and support and prayers from me, truly. I am so, so, so, so, so passionate about strong marriages. There is hope. I have seen so many incredible stories of redemption from the unlikeliest of places. And if your marriage does end in divorce know this: it is NOT the end of the road for you. Sincerely I am praying for you and I believe that there is hope and grace and love and redemption and mercy and forgiveness and second chances for all.
John really is my best friend, my confidant, my biggest cheerleader and advocate, my encourager, my challenger, and so much more. He has this rough and rugged exterior and he is often quiet when people first meet him… so a lot of times people don’t see the side I know and see regularly which is this loving and gentle side. He’s incredible generous – but he doesn’t want people to know. He’s the kind of person who just gives or does something anonymously because he wants to help. He is an amazing dad and is so purposeful in how he spends time with Amos and Lilly… he does “breakfast with dad” every Thursday morning with each kid individually. He loves Jesus and wakes up every day to spend time with God before he starts his day…
Listen, we are both a work in progress and we do NOT get this right all the time, but we are quick to communicate, to forgive, to invest in each other, and we know that our marriage is a worldly reflection of the relationship between Christ and His church.
My prayer, daily, is that our marriage would be an encouragement and an inspiration to others. It’s not that other people would think that we have it all figured out or that we are perfect by any stretch of the imagination (we aren’t.) My prayer is that people would see in us that marriage matters, that it can be beautiful and amazing and God-honoring.
But also know that marriage isn’t the pinnacle or the end-all-be-all. It’s a beautiful part of life, but it’s not ALL that life has to offer. So John and I also encourage each other in our own individual pursuits, passions, and dreams.
All this to say – John, I’m so thankful for you. I obviously have a lot of words, but no words will ever actually sum up my love and gratitude for you.
I love you, more.