Over the past few years, but especially in the past week, I’ve watched some amazing wives live out their wedding vows pretty flawlessly. They have held and comforted the men who could no longer hold and comfort them. They have said no to attractive distractions so they could say yes to sleepless nights, sorrowful conversations and to-the-bone exhaustion. They walked with their men, not just down a church aisle, but also every step through the Shadowy Valley to gracefully and gratefully drop them off at heaven’s door. And then they turn back to their lives alone. From we to me. From us to I. From cherished companion to cherished memories. They are heroic, beautiful and brave. I would like very much to be like them when I grow up. And so today, on our wedding anniversary, Steve and I salute Debi, Lynn and Mitzy for showing us all how it’s done.
And to the man who stole my heart 29 years ago: there has never been another. You have loved and loved hard. Even in the breaking seasons, when everything felt so perilous, I have never had a doubt that this thing we’re doing is real and right and it will matter in eternity. The yes’s we said to each other and the no’s they necessitated have been built like bricks into the walls of our legacy. Our lives have mattered, but our LIFE has mattered. The us of you + me is the best thing I’ve ever been given.
Because we gave up on anniversary gifts years ago, and because words matter more to me than flowers, I want to give you a thank you for every year we’ve been married.
1. Thank you for fighting so hard for a marriage that wouldn’t sink beneath the waves of culture or compromise or catastrophe.
2. Thank you for trying to teach me to swim. And for not hitting me back when I panicked and hit you.
3. Thank you for going to the store a thousand times through four pregnancies to buy Top Ramen and watermelon.
4. Thank you for Italy. I never would have been brave enough to take that trip without you.
5. Thank you for being such a gracious fighter. It has made all the difference in our marriage and in the way our children view relationships.
6. Thank you for always, always, always believing the best about me. Nothing in my adult life has made me braver than your constant faith in my ability and my dreams.
7. Thank you for teaching our girls how a man treats a woman.
8. Thank you for teaching our son to be a gentleman.
9. Thank you for that one time you left a penny for that waitress who was so terrible to you because it gives us the best story to tell. (And I have to believe it was a good lesson for her.)
10. Thank you for loving Africa, and for teaching me to love it too.
11. Thank you for always making me feel beautiful.
12. Thank you for so many incredible conversations on the River Trail.
13. Thank you for saying yes to so many of my crazy ideas.
14. Thank you for taking such good care of our cars. I’m trying to be better at it. I really, really am.
15. Thank you for being gentle. I didn’t know how much it would matter when I married you…but it really matters.
16. Thank you for being a fast forgiver.
17. Thank you for being a fast apologizer.
18. Thank you for being such a faithful friend to so many.
19. Thank you for loving worship and for teaching our children to love it too.
20. Thank you for taking care of me after four babies and two surgeries.
21. Thank you for taking such good care of those birds outside the patio window.
22. Thank you for wanting to live when so many would rather give up and die.
23. Thank you for always answering your phone, even when it’s hard to speak.
24. Thank you for letting me go away on girls’ weekends and conference weekends and Pam’s-turning-50 weekends.
25. Thank you for doing your own laundry for 48 years.
26. Thank you for never giving up on the church.
27. Thank you for never giving up on your friends.
28. Thank you for never giving up on me.
29. Thank you for never giving up on you.
I love you. And in a world where the concept of love is pretty punch-drunk, please know how deeply I mean it. The past few years have proven to me how much I really, really mean it. If nothing else is ever said of me when I leave this life, let it be said: she was married to the very best man – and she knew it.
I love you madly,