Chad and I celebrated 14 years of marriage this week. We went out to dinner by ourselves on a random Tuesday night. A fancy dinner at that...to a place that doesn't serve chicken nuggets and fries or any other sort of "child-friendly" foods. In fact, it was quite the opposite, there were words on the menu that my children probably couldn't even pronounce, words like "pancetta" and "braised" just to name a few. It got me to thinking as we sat around other couples enjoying an equally nice evening, I wanted to know...are y'all celebrating a special event as well or is this just something you routinely do on a random Tuesday night? I so wanted to know what their story was because this was a big deal for us.
It seems as the years and children began to accumulate, we didn't give our anniversary the pause it deserved. Yes, there were cards involved and "Happy Anniversaries" all around and we were all fine with that. The demands of being parents threatened to eclipse any semblance of a husband and a wife without us even being aware of it much less doing anything to change it and once again everyone involved seemed fine with that.
With the birth of our daughter, everything changed, nothing was as it had been, nothing. I depended on this man more than I ever had in my life. He was strong and carried the weight of everything on shoulders whether he wanted to or not and pulled us (and continues to pull us) through unimaginable pain. His commitment to this family was not verbal, it was truly visible and seen through his actions and the way he cared for us. "No words were needed," little did I know how profoundly those four words would changed my life.
Fast forward 3 years and we find ourselves at The Veranda celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary. It's old south style makes you feel as though you are dining in a home straight out of "Gone with the Wind." We had a few hours in which we actually felt like a couple again. We talked about our wedding, our honeymoon, our first years together in that one bedroom apartment and our first home. I began to feel as though it wasn't a lifetime ago that maybe somewhere buried inside I was still that same girl, bride and wife.
This man who has made a commitment to me and to our family then looks me straight in the eye and says, "I wouldn't change a thing, not a minute of it." It wasn't just something he said in the moment (he has said it before), I could see the feeling and the meaning behind his words in his eyes and for a brief moment I was almost there with him. I couldn't however bring myself to speak the words to disagree with him this time. Instead I immediately felt myself being jerked back to the present and the pain I wake up to every morning. Not sure I am to the point yet where I wouldn't want to change a thing but it gives me hope and makes me feel secure that he does.
I wonder what's different about his commitment? What makes his vow so firm in a world where marriage, devotion and commitment are not highly regarded traits...where husbands and wives feel as though they don't have to follow through on their promises? It's all about our choices... him choosing to make a commitment and a promise not only to me and to our children but to God. It's choosing to put God at the center of our marriage instead of our(selfish)selves and continuing to make the right choices not just the easy ones.
God has honored and blessed our commitment to each other and as a result we have grown stronger in the midst of difficulty. It's not easy, I'm not trying to paint an unrealistic picture here. At best we are making tough choices in difficult circumstances. At the end of the day though the words we spoke and the commitment we made 14 years ago before God and before each other is stronger than anything in this world and by God's guidance and grace it will continue to be so.