If I could write a letter to my 21 year old self, I would say:
I know you just returned from that conference; the one where you learned about courtship and making lists about your future spouse. Your list is long and detailed, but you won’t hold to all the fluff. The truth is you’ll move away to Roanoke, Virginia in a year or so. You’ll finish graduate school and you’ll commit to a year of ministry. Just before you move away you’ll fall in love. You’ll be so surprised by the man who woos you with laughter and deep set dimples and steadiness. He won’t play the guitar or write flowery words or lead with a heavy hand. He will have a quiet strength and he will love baseball and he won’t let you go on taking every little thing so seriously.
On December 30, 2013, you’ll celebrate your 13th wedding anniversary. It will be quiet and full of everyday things like going to the grocery store and taking down the dried out Christmas tree. Some years will be quiet like that. On your 10th anniversary, you’ll buy a couch and promise to take a trip later. Truthfully, the 13th year will bring hard things. It will hold stretching and disappointment stronger than any year before, things that will tug at both of you and that God will use to keep your bond solid if you’ll let Him.
And in the 13th year, he will love you like he always and never has. He will always see you as God made you: beautiful. And he will tell you more than ever. He will hold you under his shoulder as you begin a new stage of life. He will faithfully nudge you as you draw deeper and deeper into God’s love for you, as you turn away from defining yourself by performance and acceptance. A new thing will be birthed in you during your 13th year of marriage. And every truth, every victory, every step will have come through him first. He will believe for you, pray for you and love you when your hair is dirty and you’re wearing the same old yoga pants.
Everyday won’t be like this. You’ll needle each other and argue over things like toilet paper and groceries and your future. You will fight. Hard. And you’ll cry. You do will the hard work and you will be stubborn. But. On your 13th anniversary, you’ll be so overwhelmed with how much you like this man you met at 18.
I know you’re afraid and hopeful: afraid you’ll never fall in love and so wistful for the day that you will. I know you think that marriage will mean the end of insecurity and loneliness and uncertainty. It won’t. You’ll still battle timidity and take forever to make decisions and worry about what everyone thinks. But. You will have someone to walk with. You’ll feel beautiful when he stands beside you, brave when he takes your hand.
And you will like him.
If you are reading by email or through a reader, click through to listen to this sweet and poignant song by Ben Rector.
Sweet photo taken by my lovely friend, Lorien.