In two and a half weeks, it’ll be a whole decade since I took that fancy walk down the aisle in the fluffy dress that made me feel like a queen. I married the handsomest boy I’d ever seen, but it was his big, fat heart that sealed the deal. The first time I glimpsed tears on his cheeks as we passed a child in a wheelchair, I knew I’d march that aisle in a fluffy dress.
Without one clue as to how harsh the world could be, or any notion as to how finances worked, we wed…with credit card debt, intern jobs, and a pile of student loans that would keep on piling for the next 4 years. The first years were mean to us, and we were mean to each other. We yelled and slammed doors and spatted names that should never be uttered. But each day that ended was a victory; we would be okay.
The week after I graduated college, just a couple months before our 2nd anniversary, we got in our cars, walkie talkies in hand, and moved twenty hours away, to Nashville. I remember passing that sign that declared, “Leaving Colorful Colorado”; how we laughed over the static of our walkie talkies. Colorado had held us captive and we longed to explore the world. “We will never live here again” we arrogantly proclaimed. God laughed then, knowing we’d move back TWICE in the next four years.
In 2010, we lived in Denver, Southern California, and Colorado Springs. I wish I was kidding. Three days after driving me to California and heading back to Denver to finish his job, this happened over the phone: “Umm…hey Matt..?…um….I’m pregnant.” The wee bit of financial knowledge we had gained over the past 5 years made it evident that we would be packing our things and moving to the nearest bridge if we stayed in California to raise our baby. With determination to make it work on one income so I could raise our baby at home, we set up camp in a friend’s basement in Colorado Springs. It worked for us and we were thankful. Soon, we were able to rent a townhouse, where our 2nd precious son would call home.
And then, a year and a half ago, we trekked across the country in our car with a toddler, a baby, and 3 cats, followed by my mother, her 2 cats, and 9 birds. She moved across the country to North Carolina with us, and we shared a house for a year, which allowed us to save up to buy our 1st home. On the last leg of our four day drive, that horrid day when I had the stomach flu and spent the drive through the Appalachian Mountains vomiting into a tupperware dish, I remember thinking, This is it. Even if we hate Charlotte, we are staying. I just can’t do this anymore. Thankfully, I didn’t have to settle for hating it; we love it here.
The past ten years for us have known bitterness, anger, depression, resentment and despair. But more than that, they’ve known love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control. They’ve known talks that have lasted well into the night and hurts that cannot be comprehended. They’ve known grace and forgiveness and laughter and fun. That handsome boy who stole my heart still sheds tears when he sees tiny kids in wheelchairs. And when his tires bump the life out of a squirrel in the road. And when he talks about the beautiful love of the Father.
And I love him something fierce. A love that is grown-up and worn-in. A love that says, “You make me so crazy that my hairs are falling out, but I can’t wait to wake up next to you for the next thirty years.”
And this thing called marriage, I think we might finally be catching onto it. We’re a mess, plain and simple. But I’ve found that life is a little lovelier when we embrace the messes rather than smoothing them over. When we awake and choose love, even when we want to runaway. Here’s to the next ten years of messy marriage….hopefully without all of the moving.