It’s been eight years.
Since I gave him my last name and everything else that had only ever been mine. We got married when I was in my last months of 18, but we’d waited long enough. I knew I wanted to marry him – like, really wanted to marry him, raise children with him, grow old with him – years before our wedding day. And it took us only two months of romance to be on the same page about it. So we waited out the diplomas and hitched our wagons together as early as we could.
And now we’re nearly 10 years from that first admission of affection and 8 years on the dot from the most significant day in our lives. 8 years is not that long, but it’s long enough… It fits the joys and hurts of lifetimes.
Like the time he held me in our little car on a dark night renewing promises he’d made only a few months back while my heart ached and burned over a divorce I didn’t see coming.
And the months that accumulated into years during which we began to think we’d lost each other, but clung to those vows with white knuckles and stubborn love.
All the fights that filled us with the worst kinds of hate and the weary, but sincere apologies that followed tedious understanding. The times it didn’t help us feel closer and the times the floor gave out and we fell deeper into this thing.
The terror and awe and gift of bringing children into our arms already full of commitment.
Bending and breaking to each other, for each other and each knowing with individual conviction that “if it all falls apart it won’t be because of me.”
We have fallen in love many times over, each time learning more about what it means. We’ve enjoyed the reckless safety of giving in and diving deep. For whatever we “missed out on” by marrying young, we see great treasure in having grown up together. We have known one another as kids and we’ve grown into these roles – we’re still growing. He’s seen his bride awkwardly tripping over the margin of Woman. I’ve seen my Man still trying to fill his big boy shoes. We get to remind each other not to lose the things that are easy to drop over time and we get to encourage each other the way only the longest friends can.
We’ve seen each other at our most immature and at the finest moments no one else may ever know about. And while insecurities will probably always come, at the end of the day when the lights are off and the world is down to the few things you know that you know, this union is a thing I can hang my hat on. A thing I feel safe enough to let my kids depend on. And people are fickle, I know, but God is our Help and we’re learning more and more that loving comes down to deciding. We’ve learned that we cannot be each other’s everything, but the point is that we point each other to the One that is and that makes us as solid as anything can be.
Eight years from now I fully expect to look back with Gabe, as we do on our first eight, to laugh and smile and cringe at the things we think we know now or the sloppy way we practice Love. But I also expect to be so very grateful, as we are for the first eight, that we have been able to do this growing together.
And I hope in twenty years when our children might be finding their spouses that our example inspires them to search and wait for partners in grace, teachers in love and deep friends in their prospective brides/grooms. If Raychel is so fortunate to find a man like her Poppa I will tell her, “Hold on tight and be bullheaded in commitment. He’ll take you on quite the adventure, but he’s worth any risk. You’ve got a man with Good in his bones. Don’t squash his Navigator Spirit (because you’re probably the only one who can) and do remember to thank him for the way he would break his back to provide, the way he will still look at you a decade into your story and the way he is always standing before God ready to be changed.”
I love you, Gabriel! Thank you for an amazing eight years!