Nineteen years ago today, I woke up for the last time single. On June 15, 1996, I walked down the aisle single and left the church married to an amazing man.
And here we are, a hop and a skip and 19 years later….and I still think he’s an amazing man. We’ve been through a lot over the years. Who hasn’t? We’ve had our fair share of sun-shiney days, and I’m thankful for every one of them.
We’ve also had more than our share of storms. We’ve walked through more fires than I’d care to remember. But do you know what? I’m thankful for those too.
I wouldn’t want to repeat them. Not for a million dollars. But they’ve made us who we are. They’re blended into the beautiful tapestry God’s making of our lives, and it wouldn’t be quite the same without them.
We don’t know everything there is to know about marriage. I mean, we’re practically newlyweds compared to those of you who’ve been married 40, 50 and even 60+ years, but we’ve definitely learned some things along the way.
Things Can Change in an Instant
I went from being single to being married as fast as you can say, “I do!” That was a good change. A change I was excited about. A change I planned and prepared for.
Not all changes are planned. And not all changes are good. Change comes and things happen whether we want them to or not – miscarriage, the loss of a child or sibling or parent or spouse, bankruptcy, losing a job, heartache, heartbreak….
The stuff of life comes to all of us. It’s what we do when the storms hit that matters. We get to choose whether or not we use the crises in life to create wedges in our relationships or allow them to act like glue.
In marriage, it’s much better to let them be glue and allow them to deepen your intimacy and connection.
But we can also let them become a wedge or glue where God is concerned. When storms hit they get mad at Him. Run from Him. Blame Him.
But we need to remember He’s always there for us. If we run to Him and not from Him, He’ll answer in His strength and power and healing and grace to walk us through every storm. If we hold on to Him, we’ll make it through.
He Uses Our Bruises
I decorate my house with pictures. And a lot of those pictures are the happy memories of the last 19 years. Shots of our kids and our vacations. Pics of anniversaries and family reunions. The highlights.
What you won’t see are pictures of the storms that we faced or the fires that we walked through. Pictures of what gave us our scars…what gave us our bruises.
We can’t change the past. We can change history. What’s done truly is done. There are some years I’ve loved and some I’d rather forget.
What I’ve learned about those painful years is – we may not be able to forget them, but if we let Him, He will use our bruises.
He’ll make them into something beautiful. He’ll use them to help someone else going through the same storm or facing the same fire.
Jesus doesn’t hide His bruises. He shows His scars to everyone willing to look. And those scars bring new life and power and healing to everyone who touches them.
I wouldn’t want to repeat some of those years….but I’m so thankful for them. I’m thankful He can use them to minister life and hope and encouragement and healing to someone else.
That’s how He brings beauty from ashes. That’s how He works all things together for our good. Because during the trial I was able to draw closer to Him. And after it was over, I was able to help someone else get through the same thing.
Today, I’m thankful for 19 years. There were times I thought we wouldn’t make it. There were times I thought, “Till death do us part? Really?” But there have also been some of the sweetest times I’ll treasure forever.
I’m thankful for this man God gave me to walk through life with. And I’m thankful and hopeful for many, many, many more years together.
I love our story so far and I can’t wait to read the next chapter. I may not know what tomorrow holds – good or bad – but I know the One who holds my tomorrows. And as long as we hold tight to Him, it’s going to be an amazing ride.