This past Sunday, the better half and I marked twelve years of marriage. Twelve years. That’s 4,380 days and nights. Plenty of time for the messy, the hard, the hurt; but also through it all, the sheer unyielding work of God binding souls to Him and together.
This gritty job of being married stands one of the most sanctifying experiences of my life and continues to be so. Because when you marry at 20, raising your empty champagne glass, toasts covering terror, you don’t want to be holy, not really.
But God calls us to holiness. “It is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy'” (1 Peter 1:16). And I’m learning, I truly am, that the holiness God desires in me is not the holiness I seek to achieve through my own efforts, but rather the holiness that is produced through the Spirit’s work in my life, further refined in the struggle, the pain, and the hardship.
The man I fell asleep beside last night is not the boy I married. I am not the same girl I was 12 years ago, either. And I am so grateful, because that girl was self-reliant and proud. She has a tendency (even now) to keep the escape hatch open, one foot out the door, in case things get a little too messy and raw and uncomfortable. But the nature and ultimately the beauty of marriage is in the forever, the moments of pure joy carved out of the struggle, moments when God and one another are all you have to cling to. And in admitting the pain and imperfection, the death to dreams and hopes deferred, you still fight. Praise Jesus for giving my husband the long haul mindset that I lack.
Because if I had bailed when it got tough or steeled my heart against my husband, I would have missed out on the holy. Through my husband’s love for me I get a front row seat to understanding Christ’s love for me, for His bride. And there is so much grace, grace upon grace, in marriage. There has to be.
My husband is my champion. He is patient and kind. At my best and my worst, he loves me through it all. He helps me to confront the things in my life that hold me (and us) back, often spiritually. He inspires me to be the best version of myself. The real version. Not the one I think I have to be to please and impress the rest of the world.
And when we do brush up against one another, it is good. Being married is not about my way or his way or trade-offs, but doing what’s best for us, together, with forever in mind. This is not compromise. This is death to self. And it is not futile. It is noble. When we both die to self, there is a glorious new becoming, not of two better selves, but truly one.
And in twelve years of this becoming, I’ve realized that our love story, this gift of being myself with the one I love most, this is marriage.
Happy anniversary to the enduring love of my life.