I could have married someone else, you know. In fact, that was kind of the plan. Back when I was too young and foolish to be planning anything, for seven years, I was mapping it all out. Remember how I told you I’d named all 4 of my kids and everything? Yep. Could’ve gone that way. But that’s not where I was meant to be.
I was meant to be in that little church fellowship hall on Easter morning, when I saw you take off your glasses for a quick second and rub your eyes. Then you looked up, and you looked right at me. I’d seen you several times before that, and we’d even talked as acquaintances. But this time, I really saw you. And I’m pretty sure you saw me too.
Sometime later when we went on our first date, which wasn’t even technically a date, I still can’t believe you talked for two hours straight and let your dinner get cold while you told me everything about your life. Like, everything. I was so shocked at the fact you had no idea that was kind of against the “rules,” but it was so refreshing to realize you didn’t even know what the rules were.
I don’t know what it was about you. We didn’t even make sense. Nothing in common really, but I just wanted to be around you. You had this thing. This quiet strength about you. You had manners, and you didn’t even know that was rare.
I can’t believe you asked me to marry you in the parking lot of the movie theater. I’d been waiting for days, making sure I looked extra pretty every time I saw you that weekend, thinking each time would be the time and you’d pop the question. When three days had gone by without a peep, I thought maybe my vibes were all off. Maybe my feeling had been all wrong. Or maybe you were just going to do it some other time because it was too close to my birthday. Then, the one day I wore no makeup and a big floppy sweatshirt in the rain to the movies, you asked me. Of course you did. That’s just so you to do something weird like that. It was perfect. Thank you for that fun memory.
Our whole wedding thing was a freakish disaster wasn’t it? I’m so mad that we had to go through that. It sucked. I know you didn’t care about the actual wedding as much as I did, but I know it kind of bummed you out that I never got to have my fancy day. There was one part I really loved though. I got to marry you sooner. Remember? We were planning on May and we got to tie the knot in March. (March is our real, actual anniversary. I know it’s hard to remember with all the dates we had. You’re kind of off the hook for that one.)
I love that we picked Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 for your wedding ring. It really turned out to be perfect for us, didn’t it?? I mean, who would have known that the whole “two can stand back-to-back and conquer” part would be so eerily accurate for our life? We really did run right out of the gate and start fighting things, didn’t we? Remember how we used to always talk about how we’d been through more in our first few years of marriage than most people ever go through? And how we’d say “us against the world” all the time? You know, I never got worried during any of those times. They always made us stronger. I knew everything would be alright because we were fighting back-to-back, together. Always together.
So many good memories came in the years following, and they just flew by so fast. All our vacations to Mexico. All those little SHMILY moments. You graduated. I graduated. I graduated again. We paid off our debt. ALL OF IT. We visited Dave Ramsey. That was a fun weekend. I’ll never forget how we both cried a little when we screamed WE’RE DEBT FREEEEEE!!! on the radio. Don’t even try to play, it was both of us. Remember when I won that award and we got to go to the hockey game for free with Greg & Tiff, and I was on the Jumbotron? And the Ohio Lottery paid for all of it? Hilarious! Remember when we drove up to Myles Pizza in Bowling Green for no real reason other than to hang out with our peeps? Tiny clown car situation, right there.
I still can’t believe we went to India. I can’t believe we ate goat meat in preparation for visiting India. I could not be more thankful that we got to experience all that together (India, not the goat meat.) You were so gracious and kind to all the people, and everyone loved you. I know how uncomfortable you were, like the whole entire time. But you did so great, baby. You were amazing and I felt so safe. Pastor Stephen loved you so much. I so wish we could have all spent more time together.
There are so many little things I love about you. I notice things, a lot of them. I notice how you make the bed sometimes just for me. I notice that little curl of hair on the front of your head when it’s about time for a haircut. So cute. I love how you have great table manners, you eat so neatly and fold your napkin every single time you use it. I don’t know why I love that so much but I do. And I love to watch you shave for some reason. It just gets to me, and you smell SO amazing.
You are so freakin’ smart. Seriously, when you get to tellin’ a story about something that went on at work, and how you had to fix a flux capacitor or some such thing, I have no idea what you are talking about. But I can see how you are totally in your jam. You are so good at what you do. You’re just the best. But you’re the best at everything you do.
Which reminds me… You are a Level 4 Krav Master. (I know that’s not an official title but I’m going with that.) You are so badass. I mean seriously, you’ve not even been doing this stuff very long, and you are running circles around dudes nearly half your age. You are amazing. But that’s just what you do. You set out to do something and you just become the very best you can be at it. I admire that so much about you. I wish I was more like you in that way.
And oh my gosh, you are the funniest person alive! I could never have married a man that didn’t have a sense of humor. You crack me up. You crack everyone up. I probably shouldn’t be encouraging this, but you are the most quick-witted person I know. You think of hilarious things to say and you think of them fast. I love how we laugh (almost) every single day and how you get me to snort-laugh at least once a week. I could never live without that. You’re the best.
And man, you are SO strong. And I don’t even mean physically, although those muscles you have sure are nice, babe. Whew. But you are so strong inside. You have been a fighter your whole dang life. Most people would have folded a long time ago if they’d gone through half of what you have. You’re a walking miracle. I know you don’t believe that. But for the rest of my life it is my job to help you see it.
You are a warrior. Don’t shake your head. You are. You have been a fighter from the very beginning and you are still standing. Yeah, you have some scars. You’ve been knocked down a few times, and a couple times you’ve even laid right down in the dirt and almost given up. But you’re here. You’re standing again and you’re still in the fight. You are a warrior, and nothing will ever change that. You’re fighting for me, for us, for your own heart, for our kids. Warrior on, my prince. Warrior on.
I want to take a second to say I’m sorry. We’re both humans and by default we screw stuff up. Because we’re married that means we sometimes screw each other up. So I’m sorry for my part. However big or little, forgive me. I forgive you for the parts you mess up. It’s the deal. If God can give up his only Son to forgive us for the ways we have been unloving or selfish or outright awful, then I’m pretty sure we can ask for and accept an apology. Every time we do, we get a clean slate. And we’re gonna keep being all about second chances, just like our God is.
We are so very imperfect. Clearly. We sure are at an interesting place in our lives, aren’t we? But can you see it? Can you see how God is fitting all those mismatched pieces together? He’s making all things new again, again. We aren’t the best at fixing things, but He’s really, really good at it. I’m so thankful for the ways you are letting Him work in you and encouraging me to do the same so we can change together and become even better.
So yeah, I could have married someone else. But I married you. And I love being married to you. There is no Plan B. We’ll get all the details figured out. We’ve got to iron out some wrinkles. But we have burned the ships, so we are doing this thing, making this life. Our Joel 2:25 repayment isn’t done quite yet. I just have a feeling we are on the verge of something great.
I love you, my prince. You have always been My People, and you always will be.
PS: Thank you for the ways you’ve been so extra encouraging to me lately. This writing project has taken a lot of time and energy this month, and you’ve been doing lots of things to allow me to make space for it. I’m sure that’s been annoying sometimes, but thank you. I’m so grateful for how you always encourage me to keep dreaming.