Thirteen years ago, in the mountains of Breckenridge, Colorado, I walked down a flight of stairs, out onto a balcony overlooking a beautiful scene. It was a lovely sunny day of 65 degrees, and the snow-capped mountains in the background made for a breathtaking backdrop to our wedding. Our wedding. We had been engaged for nearly a year and a half and together for five and a half years, and we chose to have a very small destination wedding. David's mom, my parents, my sister and her husband, my brother and his girlfriend, and a very special friend of us all gathered on that balcony for the short ceremony.
I recall that as I repeated my vows my voice cracked. My sister later told me that she thought I was going to say I couldn't go through with it. My brother-in-law started the ceremony. My brother sang "The Prayer." My dad officiated the service. We toasted and danced in the dining area. Following a horse and carriage ride, we had dinner together at a restaurant down the mountain.
Over the years many people have asked if I regret having a small wedding, but I wouldn't have changed it for anything. Truth be told, I wasn't too keen on planning the event at all. Once I picked my dress, I wasn't concerned about any other details. I was much more interested in my marriage than in the perfect wedding. Still, it turned out pretty perfect.
Our marriage began as many do, two young kids, so in love and learning everything along the way. We both had an idea of what it would be like, but we learned over those first two years that we needed to allow God to guide our plans for our marriage. Y'all, marriage is hard. It's not hard because one of us is awful. It's hard because it challenges every part of who we are. It challenges our patience, our ability to love, our selflessness, our pride, our intentions, our comfortability.
I recall a time in our marriage when I just thought, it is what it is. I was frustrated because I had ideas of what David should be like, what he should say, how he should say it, what he should do. It took a long time for me to finally realize that our marriage is what loses when I focus on what I think David should be like. I began to allow God to show me that above making me happy, He had destined my marriage to make me holy. Precisely because marriage challenges us so much, it can be one of the greatest vehicles in reconciling us to Christ.
I have learned more about Christ and how he loves me through my marriage than in any other situation I have faced. Through my marriage, I have learned how to forgive the way Christ forgives. Through my marriage, I have learned to consider others the way that Jesus did when he walked the earth. Here are just a few pearls I have gathered over the past thirteen years:
1. I must fight for my husband, He will fail, and so will I. Our marriage has positioned me to pull him up and spur him on toward Jesus. Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12 "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow....And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken."
2. I must allow God to dictate what my marriage and family should look like. I cannot allow my desires and plans to be influenced by the world. Romans 12:2 "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
3. I must allow my marriage to mirror Christ's relationship with the Church. Marriage is used over and over in the Bible as a metaphor for a relationship with Jesus. I measure my marriage this way regularly. Ephesians 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."
4. I must pray. For my husband and with my husband. Not long ago, I asked my husband how he thinks he shows his love for me. He said that he prays for me. I was stopped in my tracks. This is huge. This is love. Philippians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
5. I must love. I must love sacrificially. I must love completely. I must love while asking nothing in return. I Peter 4:8 "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins."
I love my husband, and I love my marriage. Not because either are perfect but because both push me toward perfection. Babe, I chose you thirteen years ago, and I keep on choosing you today. You have filled my life with joy and love. Happy anniversary! Here's to many, many more!