Friday, March 1, 2013

Celebrating Ten Years of Being Joined to My Best Friend

I haven’t had much time to write these days, much to my dismay.  I may get 5 minutes here or there, but no real down time when I can concentrate.  However, I had planned a post for today.  You see, today is my and my husband’s ten year wedding anniversary.  I had written how we met and how God worked in both of us at the same time and eventually brought us together…it actually was a pretty good post, if I do say so myself!  It was a little long, but I thoroughly enjoyed writing it.  However, no post of mine has ever taken that long and, honestly, has ever been proof read!  I scratched it, and well, here is what is on my heart today…right now…un-edited.

As my head hit the pillow last night, I started realizing the deeper work that God has done in my heart and in our little family over here in the last 10, well even 15 years!  This morning, I woke up to my boys’ smiling faces, just oozing with excitement to wish us a “Happy Versary,” as my 4-year-old would say it.  All day, they have been talking about how wonderful it is that we are married, and how one day they want to marry their best friend.  I even took them on an impromptu trip to the Children’s Museum this morning, where they proudly told all the new friends they had made, “My mommy and daddy love each other so much and today they’ve been married for 10 whole years!” 

Their excitement really has caught me off guard.  We are not the ooshy-gooshy, touchy-feely couple.  We haven’t even talked much about this day, other than to say that it is, in fact, our anniversary.  Heck, we don’t even have anything special planned tonight!  (Don’t worry…we have a date night scheduled next weekend!)

After lunch, I asked my boys why they were so excited.  My oldest said, “Well, you can tell that you really love each other.  No one makes daddy laugh like you and you smile all the time when he’s home. We’re just so happy for you!”  That made my heart melt…and remember.  Those things that are so evident to our kids are what made us realize we were made for each other.  My husband and I have known each other since we were teenagers, serving alongside each other at our youth group.  But, many years passed before God merged our paths into one.  Many things had to happen in each of our hearts, and both of us separately pursued God and His plans for us, not knowing what that would include.

When I was younger, I was hurt and broken.  Having lost his mother unexpectedly, my husband was sad, lonely, and a little lost.  We both told the Lord at a young age that if we were to marry, we had to be sure it was forever.  We both had so much fear, so much anger, so much to heal.  Admittedly, I never wanted to marry anyone.  I thought I’d graduate from law school, land a job in Manhattan, and live my life alone, in an overpriced apartment, with a closet full of suits, surrounded by quiet.  Sounds kinda stuffy, huh?  I left about an ounce of my heart open for the possibility that maybe God had something else up His sleeve.  But I told him that if He did, I needed to know this person inside and out.

Unbeknownst to me, my husband was saying the same thing.  He wanted to be joined with someone that had the same vision and values.  He wanted to also know his wife for a long time, and have her be his best friend.

We got everything we prayed for, and so much more.

Looking back, there were little hints.  When I was 15, I watched him get baptized.  I had maybe said two words to him before that day.  I was the farthest thing from boy crazy, and honestly had no feelings toward him or anyone else at the time.  But, boy oh boy, once that guy hit the water, my waterworks started.  I wept, and then was embarrassed and confused at my seemingly uncontrollable emotions.

We laugh at old pictures.  There are so many of us, way before we had even started becoming friends, when we are side by side.  We have so many pictures of us on mission trips together, playing with little kids.  There are a few of us serving at soup kitchens side by side.  But the funny thing was, we really didn’t speak to each other in those days…yet, we now have a pictorial history book of those days when God was healing our hearts and crossing our paths before we knew it.


The summer after my senior year of high school, we went on a mission trip to Guadalajara, Mexico.  We found ourselves walking side by side down a street one afternoon as men started to taunt me.  I could tell he didn’t know what to do.  Before long, our guide had run over to us and informed us that when one is trying to “sell” a woman, he walks her down the street with her on the outside.  Whoops!  We laughed so hard, and I wouldn’t let him forget it!  The rest of the trip we found ourselves cracking jokes, and making each other laugh.  Now, we had been around each other for years at this point.  I knew generally who this guy was, but all of the sudden, I saw so much more.

The next few months we talked more and more.  But my radar was up.  I had been hurt so much in the past and still was not ready for where I thought this was going.  I wrote him a long letter telling him that I really appreciated this new friendship, but I wanted to keep it just that:  a friendship. I was a “no physical contact” girl.  I still really am.  I don’t hug much, and I was uncomfortable being too close to someone…this little fact also made it’s way into the letter because I realized that Dan was a hugger.  If I were to maintain my emotions and trust my new friend, I really needed it to be on my terms.  I think this would officially have scared most people off, but his reply was patient and gentle:  of course we can remain friends, hands-off.  He said that this friendship was much too important to ruin by not being honest with each other.

The next year and a half (got that? Year and a half of no contact) was spent hanging out at young adult events, sometimes with a group of our friends, but mostly letter writing.  At first, we wrote about silly things.  After some time, we shared about what God was doing in our hearts.  Eventually, we opened up and talked about our past, about our hurt, and about how much we had overcome.  One day I woke up and realized that all those feelings that I swore I would never feel were already there.  I had taken all of the precautions, I had people who kept me accountable, I had distanced myself, but still…I was head over heels in love with this man.  

On January 1st, 2001, he wrote me another letter.  This one asked me whether I would consider letting him pursue me for marriage.  We had never once been on a date.  We had never once held hands.  We had never once even confessed to one another that there were feelings between us.  We didn’t have to.

The next 10 months were even more wonderful than before.  Friends were commenting on how happy I looked and how much Dan laughed.  He continued to write to me almost every day, and I wrote him back.  A little over two years after he tried selling me on the streets of Mexico, Dan asked me to marry him.  The rest is history. 

Here’s what I realized, though, when writing down a much longer version of our story.  Dan’s love language is touch.  He wrestles with our kids, always hugs his family, and loves to sit next to me on the couch and hold my hand.  The two years that I had fallen in love with him was such a sacrifice to him.  Looking back, I realize that he had loved me so much, he didn’t need my love in return.  He was patient, gentle, and selfless.  The other thing that I learned, very soon after we were married, was that Dan considers writing an actual form of torture.  Even making a grocery list can bring tears to his eyes.  Yet, I have probably a thousand letters, emails, and cards that he wrote me.  He pursued me on my own terms, despite his feelings.  What else says love like that? 

Even on our worst day, I have never questioned that we were made for each other.  We truly fell in love, side by side, while looking forward.  My absolute favorite thing to do is make him laugh, and I consider it a challenge to do so before he takes his shoes off every day when he gets home from work.  And yes, from about 5 p.m. until I lay my head on the pillow, I am normally smiling.  If I’m not, he is sure to remedy the situation.  I’m so glad that my kids see the years and years of our friendship still showing through us.  I’m so glad that they want what we have.

So today, instead of celebrating love or commitment, faithfulness or romance, we are celebrating friendship.  Our feelings have come and gone.  There have been good days, bad days, great days, and horrible days.  But each and every day, I look into those clear, blue eyes and remember that he is the same friend that waited for me, pursued me, waited some more, and then took me in his arms. 

Ten years is a long time.  But if we look back even further from when we first met, we are two completely different people.  What was once broken and full of pain is now, by God’s grace, whole and full of joy.  Marriage is a mystery.  It is hard.  It is work.  But, like they say, it truly is the best kind of work when you’re doing it with a friend.   


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