I had a hard time choosing an anniversary card for you. One that was realistic and reflects all we have been through. Most of those cards sounded so trite and shallow. I didn’t want to settle for some sing-songy card that took for granted the blood, sweat and tears we have endured in order to be where we are today. So I decided to write my own.
I can easily say, “Happy Anniversary” to you because I feel happy at this very moment. I just hugged you a few minutes ago and felt true gladness sweep over me. It’s nice to feel that way, and it makes it more fun to celebrate when things are good.
The thing is, things aren’t always easy. And some days aren’t what Hallmark cards are made of. I am sure some people look at us and wonder what the heck we are doing. But I can honestly tell them that we are just two broken people, living in a broken world, with shabby broken tools in our hands, trying to make this monumental thing called marriage actually beautiful. We have tried really hard, and we have crashed and burned even harder. It’s a good thing that God loves us the same on our best day as our very worst day. That’s where the hope is found, isn’t it? Because if we were to base our love and devotion on our own actions, we wouldn’t get very far.
You and I have had this push-pull thing going on from the beginning. It’s a dance devoted to insecurities and deepest needs. It’s trying to find a way to connect despite our differences. You feel safer with some distance, and I need closeness. This has caused many a firework show in our marriage. But we still try to keep time with the music because we are afraid to stop moving. We know we will one day master the steps.
Our personalities are so different — so fiery in opposite ways. We rise to almost every occasion, but this is good because things rarely get brushed under the rug that way. We communicate a lot, but not always nicely or very effectively. We can’t stop voicing our needs — sometimes loudly. But at least we are fighting for us. We haven’t given up. We struggle, but for the same end result, thank the Lord.
I get frightened at times because it feels tiring always swimming upstream. Should it really be this hard? Then we have one of those moments that only we can have. I look at you, and I see that behind the anger is incredible vulnerability and fear. It’s then that I want to wrap my arms around you and protect you from this stupid, cold, world. And then I remind myself that I don’t ever want to quit. You are the love of my youth, you are the best part of my story, and you are the one I want to grow old next to.
We don’t have it figured out. Not even close. We have some real hurdles that we have had to clear. When we said, “I do” all of those years ago, we didn’t have a clue what was ahead, or how dear the Gospel would become. We might tell ourselves that had we known how difficult it would get, we would have ran [run] away.
But the truth is, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I have learned far more on the choppy sea than I would have in peaceful waters. Empathy, patience, long-suffering, hopefulness, gratitude . . . I have learned that you are not my anchor, and were never meant to be. God is the anchor that holds me fast as life dashes us against the rocks. Instead of blaming each other during these storms, it’s better to take care of each other, because this world is not very nice at times. And those rocks have really sharp edges.
It’s better for us to see each other as fellow sojourners. We both have a difficult journey. Maybe then we won’t yell and holler when we feel threatened. A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger, right? We have seen that to be true. So let’s speak kindly as we offer and receive forgiveness. And most of all, may we keep the Gospel in mind when we feel at the end of our rope.
I am in need of grace just as much as you. It means we can’t hold things against each other, because we both need God’s love. I can’t fix you. You can’t fix me. We need outside help with that. So let’s cut each other some slack, and give lots of grace. Let’s tread lightly on each other’s hearts because we are both kind of fragile. Humans are unique that way.
Happy Anniversary. We should be proud. We are as tough as nails, staying married in this crazy culture. But God is big. He reveals things to us in the right moments, and He is there to help us get around the next bend in the road.
I love you. Infinity.