This coming Wednesday would have been our twentieth wedding anniversary.
I should be celebrating someplace exotic.
Instead I am left alone to reflect on our years together.
Tim passed away two months shy of our nineteenth anniversary. Two months to the day.
I would like to think with certainty we would still be married for our twentieth if Tim were here instead of heaven. But as I soul search, I have to admit that it would only have been by the grace of God,
just as it was only by His grace we reached the eighteen year, ten month mark.
Let me explain.
We were two imperfect people joined together in a covenant with our perfect God. There were three of us in this union, and only One of us had the power to make it stick. Only One of us always loved with a selfless and sacrificial love. News Flash: That One was neither Tim nor I.
Over the years, I often failed my husband with judgmental attitudes or harsh words. He sometimes failed me by placing other responsibilities ahead of our relationship. We didn’t always choose to love well, even though we knew better. There were times when we were selfish and immature. We absolutely failed each other. But there was One who never failed us.
We learned early in our relationship that good communication would be one of our strongest allies. It was critical, not just with each other; but our individual and collective communication with our God.
On more than one occasion over those nearly nineteen years, Tim and I sat in our closet floor with tears streaming, sharing our unhappiness and lack of fulfillment in the marriage. Expressing how we needed more from each other. Asking God to remove our pride and revive the passion in our commitment to this union.
That’s just the “pull-back-the-curtains” truth. I do the beauty of our marriage a disservice if I don’t admit it. We had a good marriage. We loved each other deeply. We were friends. We enjoyed time together and were both head over heels in love with our children. I could go on and on about the wonderful positives with a huge smile on my face.
Memories of how…
How we were disciplined and diligent in saving for the 20% down payment on our first home.
How we grew even closer when eight months later Tim moved us across the country to the mountains of Utah. (Even though, having never been that far from my family, I literally cried for the first 9 hours of the drive.)
How we clung to each other through repeated failed adoptions and the trials of infertility.
How we celebrated each positive pregnancy test.
How he held me as we were sent home from appointments to mourn the loss of a life growing inside of me.
How we delighted in the healthy delivery of two miraculous children.
Memories tumble through my mind, glimpses into our beautiful mess of those first five years. As I reminisce, walking through year by year of our story, I am reminded of how shallow the beauty of the “good” is without the difficulty of the “bad”.
It was because of the “hard” that we softened to each other. It was due to the “rough” that we began to smoothly fit together. And it was most definitely only by the grace of God that our love affair survived. It was the joining of the three of us that allowed the two of us to remain committed to a relationship full of imperfect love.
Yes, sitting here alone with our twentieth anniversary approaching, I can clearly see our marriage can be defined solely by God’s grace.
Our life together was a choice. We made a covenant commitment to each other and to our Lord on March 11, 1995. The three of us walked this journey together. While “until death do us part” happened for Tim and me far too soon by our plans, there is One who knew the exact ending all along. There is One who never lost sight of the covenant, never grew frustrated with the commitment, and never left us alone to figure it all out.
I remember the struggles and the pain fondly now, for they led to the stretching that fit us tightly together. I remember both the weariness and the ease of our love, for they were both required in the growth of our relationship. One doesn't negate the other. It’s important I don’t allow my memories to “sugar coat” reality. Our marriage was not a fairy tale. It was instead, a tale of two imperfect people bound in unity to a perfect God. It was a tangled dichotomy of joy and sorrow, ease and hardship, fun and frustration. It was real life.
Mostly, I remember the commitment covered and protected by the grace of God.
And, I am grateful. Grateful to the One who held it all together.
Happy “would-be” anniversary, Babe. I will forever love you!