This past year, I have had many friends get married, which also means that I have attended a number of weddings. I love watching these couples, so madly in love and idealistically dreaming of marriage. I remember when I was first married. I remember what I expected marriage to look like. And now I know what it really looks like. It is so strange to compare the two. In some ways marriage is so much harder than I expected. And in other ways it is so much more wonderful and meaningful than I could have ever imagined.
There is one part of the wedding ceremony that overwhelms me every time. It has an entirely different meaning to me than it did when I said it fifteen years ago.
"in sickness and in health"
When I hear these words my throat constricts. Tears fill my eyes. I can barely breathe.
Do they know what this means?
Do they really know what they are saying?
Do they know the cost of laying your life down for someone else?
Do they know what it is to be completely dependent?
Are they ready for the trials ahead, where their true love and their true character will be revealed?
Probably not. They are envisioning the fairy tale.
But they will learn as they face the trials of life.
And if God is at the center, they can't fail.
But it's not easy.
Tomorrow is my fifteenth wedding anniversary. Last week my husband sent me this note:
In less than one week we will have been married for 15 years! Can you believe it? I can’t.
I know there have been some bad times and some hardships. I know there has been some sickness and pain, but my answer would and does remain the same…I Damie, take you Stephanie, to be my wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
I love you and hope to spend at least another 15 years with you.
These vows, written in a simple email, mean so much more to me than the ones we said in a small church fifteen years ago. Over the years we have hurt each other. We have said and done stupid, foolish things. We both often think..."if we could just turn back the clock and do that differently."
But we've grown together. We've endured together. Our marriage has been tried by the fire of affliction and we are still standing, by the grace of God, strengthened and proven.
I am married to an amazing man, who has been faithful to our vows at great personal cost. He could never have known when he said them what would be required of him. He is faithful. He is strong. He still unselfishly lays his life down for me every day. And the most amazing thing is that he would choose to do it all over again.
Happy Anniversary Damie! I love you so much!!!
I Stephanie, take you Damie, to be my husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.