My wedding day was a blur. I was a barely-20-year-old bundle of nerves and excitement. Truth be told, I loved the attention. It was the second wedding I had ever been to in my life, and I was the star of the show.
I loved Josh as much as anyone barely out of teen years can love a high school sweetheart. Everyone could see we were great together, but behind the giddy affection, we were actually a mess. Jealousy, anger, not knowing how to communicate…these are just a few of the battles we fought regularly throughout our dating relationship. There was so much love, but so many unhealthy expressions of it too. “But marriage,” we thought. “Marriage will be the solution to all of our struggles.”
Thinking back 6 years from today at the girl walking down the aisle on her proud father’s arm, I am so torn. I wonder why no one warned her of what it means to marry someone. No one held my head in their hands and told me sternly that the hard stuff was ahead of us, not behind. Or that we would change more in the coming years than we’d ever changed in our lives. The internal growth-spurt of our early twenties came as a complete shock. No one explained that the man waiting for me at the altar would be utterly unidentifiable six years down the road. I had no idea.
Instead, I looked at all the smiling faces from all walks of life smiling back at me. Their smiles brought me comfort that my decision to marry so young wasn’t as weighty as one would think. Honestly, I was probably smiling back at them more at how admired I felt and less at the fact that I was entering into a beautiful covenant with the man God chose for me.
The weird thing is, though, is it turns out I’m glad no one told me. I’m glad I marched forward without hesitation, blissfully ignorant of what was to come. If given the chance to turn back, I may have missed out on the greatest adventure and joy I’ve ever known.
Writing this is tough because I so desperately want to believe my own choices and preparedness is what led to Josh and my marital success. That is just not the case, though. The truth is, I was clueless. Maybe we all are when we embark on a life-long journey with a single, flawed, starry-eyed person at the end of an altar. No one can know the pain of holding that person when they hear of their parent passing away or sitting in a therapist’s office with them when you just can’t figure some things out on your own. But in all of that is where the beauty of marriage lies.
Marriage did not fix any problems. In fact, it might have created more struggle than it alleviated. It forces you to take a good look at yourself and realize you have no choice but to give more of yourself. To move out away from the comfort of selfishness into the realm of uncomfortable sacrifice. And giving up just isn’t an option anymore. But in the striving and the fighting and toiling together, there is growth and an inexplicable, deep satisfaction. That is where true love shows her hopeful face.
Looking back on my wedding day gives me a feeling of deepest gratitude toward the One who took two kids and grew them in ways that bound them together instead of tore them apart. God truly deserves credit for the miracle that is my marriage. We have so far to go, and a lifetime of battles to fight together. But the fact that we still have each other after 6 years of transforming into our current version of ourselves is pretty remarkable.
I love this man more today than I ever thought possible. He has helped me navigate high school, college, young adulthood, and every challenge in between. He’s shown me dignity and honored me when I least deserve it, and pushed me toward healing and loving myself where I desperately needed it. He loves the poor and seeks justice in all areas of life. He wants to adopt children. The list goes on and on.
Today I’m in awe at God’s goodness for not only giving me Josh, but for making him into the man he is today. Six years isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things, but it has sure felt like a lifetime ago that we said “I do.”
And ya know what? I definitely still do.