Dedicated to my Husband…they say that if you are loved by a writer, you can never die, for all that you are to the writer is reflected in every piece of work she produces. You, and everything about you, is remembered not merely as memories, but as details in her story that can never be forgotten.
There was a time when praying before bed, on my knees, was so customary that to lay down without doing so was not only unacceptable, but unfathomable. I was a little girl, following my mother’s footsteps, learning the importance and the priority of a prayer life. Not entirely aware of the impact of such a practice, it is something that as I reminisce I am thankful for above many others. After reciting what most would call the Lord’s Prayer and then asking for God’s covering over my family, friends, and anyone I knew was sick, I would stay there on my knees until we all were finished. I cannot be sure of the exact age of when my private prayers extended past those I spoke aloud, but I know that in those that I kept only between me and God, I prayed for you. My mother taught us to pray for our future husbands, children, grandchildren and their children. She always spoke about being able to be who she is because somebody had prayed for her.
I did not know you then, what you would look like, be like, how you would make me feel. I had no possible way of planning out how we would do life together or even if in my praying for you did I understand what I was doing. At such a young age, perhaps I was just praying that you would find me, that I would not have to live a complete life without you. Perhaps I was just praying that I would never be alone and I could have a family of my own, with you. Whether my prayers were superficial and lacking or mighty and powerful, I know that God answered them.
Eight years ago, I chose to jump—afraid of falling but perhaps even more afraid that you would actually catch me. All that I had allowed myself to know of you led me to believe that if I ever said yes, that life I had learned to pray for would be in the works from that day forward. And even though I had prayed for it, it was the scariest reality I had to face. Hidden behind the prayers, dreams, and wishes was the doubt of failure and the age-old notion of nothing good lasting forever. I was not sure if I was ready for that, for you. But I jumped anyway. For three years you would effortlessly prove that even if the ground beneath me collapsed, I would never fall. Whether in your arms, around your shoulders, or simply in your heart, I did not have to fear failure because you had me and your love would cover me in and through the best and worst of times. Being with you became my peace, my slice of heaven on earth, my reminder that God loves me so much he created someone—you—to demonstrate His love for me, daily.
Four years ago, I made the easy choice to say, “I do.” To the good times and bad times, easy times and hard times, to the unfamiliar and the unknown. I chose to accept your triumphs and tragedies, your successes and your failures, and your strengths and your weaknesses as my own. I chose to intertwine my life so much into yours that, outside of the individual plans God has for me, there would never be anything we would ever have to face alone. I chose to feel and understand what makes you happy and what pains you. I chose to experience life and love with you, not just dream about it. I chose that giving up was never an option. I chose to do life with you, even when the fragrance of newness turned stale or went absent. I chose you. I chose us.
Over the course of the last four years, I have hard to learn a new way to pray for you. I had to pray that I would not hold you so tightly out of fear and doubt that I would keep you from being all God has created you to be. I had to learn how to trust God with your life and my life as individuals so that our lives together would be pleasing to Him. I had to learn that love does not always show itself in the times that feel good, but sometimes it’s the end result after an immediate pain. I had to learn that the choice I made to say, “I do” four years ago would be a choice I would have to make every morning. I had to learn the importance of only speaking that which would edify and build up, and resist the urge to speak anything else. My prayers had to shift from not just praying for your present existence in my life, but for God’s presence to manifest in every aspect of your life and for me to stand as your help meet as He works in, through, and for you. I had to learn to love you like Christ loves you—to see you for all that He sees you to be and all that He created you to be.
Four years ago, we chose not to write our own vows out of understanding and agreeing that we did not want to make promises we were not sure we could keep. Though at the time I wanted to pour out my heart to you for all the ways you made me feel, I am glad we made that choice. I’m sure my vows would have held promises to always respect you, never disappoint you, be your peace in a world full of turmoil, understand your deepest doubts and concerns, and be your very best friend in and out of the tests and trials of life. But there is no way I could have imagined the intricacies of what such promises hold, nor how I would manage to keep every one of those. I would have failed you, over and over again. Instead, I have chosen to forsake all others, have and hold you, for better or worse, richer or poorer, through sickness and in health, until by death we part, according to God’s holy ordinance. My love for you has grown from being reactionary, self-pleasing and serving, to proactive, intentional, and purposeful because that is the type of love God demonstrated for me when He gave me you. And by doing so, I am able to look at you and know that the choice I made four years ago would never prove to be in vain. As we grow through life, in all the ways that we are different, I see all the ways in which God placed His hand over bringing us together. And to think, He’s just getting started…
The core of who we are cannot be shaken and His protection over our marriage cannot be undone. For all the reasons we could and should fail, there is one–the only one that matters–that ensures we won’t: “Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate (Mark 10:9).” Despite any challenges that have come our way, you have faced them, holding tight to your convictions and responsibilities as a man. In you I was gifted a provider, a lover, a protector, a friend. You are my equal and my balance. For taking the little girl inside of me and loving her into womanhood, I thank you. For using your strength and perseverance to ensure your family never lacks anything, I adore you. For choosing fatherhood above all else, I admire you. For doing your best to disprove that nothing good lasts forever, I love you.
Four years ago, I chose us, I chose you. Four years later, I still do.
Happy Anniversary to you, the love of my life, my Papa Bear.