This year we celebrate our Sweet 16 wedding anniversary! Though I like to call it our sweet 16 it has not been 16 blissful years of marriage.
I was just reminiscing about that hot South Carolinian May when we stood under white arch on a historical plantation home and said our vows before God and man.
I remember the giddiness, the fear, the running around, the planning, the excitement, the love, the friends and family that gathered around to celebrate us.
As I look over our wedding album pictures I had lots of thoughts pop into my head,
- Wow, I’m so skinny!
- Awww, I wished we could’ve enjoyed each person for just a little bit longer.
- We had such a fun dance party.
- Thankful for the ladies who cooked an authentic Mexican meal for us.
- Wow, I can’t believe we cried so much during the service.
- What did the Mariachi band really just try to play that song?
- It was all so beautiful.
- I looked so happy.
- I had so much fun.
- I can’t believe we pulled this off with a small budget.
- We love because He first loved us.
I have such fond memories of our wedding filled withs so much laughter, food, love, friends, family and not to mention–gifts. They literally filled up a whole room full of gifts.
We said, “I Do”
Sixteen years ago, our love was woven and brought together by God. Our hopeful heart believed God would carry us through and our love, compatibility, passion, strengths, and weaknesses belonged together. So we said–I do.
Around this time I love to share all the highlights of our romantic love story and how God brought two unlikely people together in marriage. Instead this year I want to share the other side of our beautiful God story.
There has been so much beautiful in these 16 years that I’d never, in my wildest dreams, would’ve imagined. We’ve lived a full life of adventure, joy, laughter and ministry with our 3 boys. But there’s also been so much excruciating moments which have knocked the breath out of me, so much so, that I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to sing the same again.
Some of the hard came about as a result of two sinful people living under one roof trying to make one life. Some were things we had no control over and were put on our paths to grow us, to strengthen us and to teach us. Honestly, some of it to this day, I have no idea what it’s for so all I can do is trust my good Father even when it doesn’t quite make sense.
I still remember our first fight it was over how we spent our money. I laugh now about how I thought our marriage wasn’t going to survive that Hardee’s meal disagreement. We are both frugal people but he had a very different way to spend his money that didn’t quite fall into my category of important. He thought Hardee’s biscuits, lunch outings and regular CD purchases were a priority.
Little did he know I was the child in our family of 5 who convinced my family of the value of eating at home instead of eating out by saving the receipts from our last grocery bill and out last restaurant visit to prove my point. And regularly cut out coupons for our family in order to save money. That was only the beginning of lots of misunderstandings.
So I’m not here to tell you it’s been 16 years of bliss from the moment we said, “I do”.
Thankful for a Hard Marriage–Brutiful
Actually, I’m glad I CAN tell you it’s been brutiful a mix of brutal and beautiful woven into each yarn of our story.
It was in the hard that I discovered that my knight and shining armor was never meant to rescue me. Oh don’t get me wrong I know he would fight his heart out to save me from danger. But I was confused for some time about my mans role in my life and that only left me with dashed expectations.
The hard helped me see that God gave me Jesus not my husband to “rescue” me from my sin, my heart, my hot mess until I was able to see that I was able to freely love my man and allow him to comfort me.
In the hard we discovered how capable we are of hurting each other. But at the same time how much we loved each other.
It’s in the hard that my husband was able to be the hands and feet of Jesus and offer glimpses of God’s healing to my broken soul.
Through the arguments and disagreements we saw our ugly mess and discovered how prideful we can be.
It’s been in the hard that we’ve experienced the beautiful gift of God’s forgiveness to one another.
It’s in the hard that we’ve seen His love carry us through when we had nothing but tears to share with one another as we held each other.
It’s been in the hard where we realized how much we need one another.
It’s in the hard that our souls were strengthened, our hearts grew and our love for one another was welded together reminding us of our “wedding verse”–We love because He first loved us.
It was in the hard we were able to see that we could sing again. We would sing a new song!
Our hearts have been welded together through the fire of love, the sparks of life, the flashes of light found in hope, the crackling sound of hardship all giving birth to God’s love that is so much richer, deeper and stronger all because of the flame.
Now I’m not saying to go and pray for hard times in your marriage but hard times will come so faithfully draw near to Him and in solidarity stand alongside of each other and when necessary carry each other through it.
Today we celebrate the 16 brutiful years God has given us together. We celebrate God’s protection, provision and the gift of each other He blessed us with 20 years ago.