Half my life now, I’ve been a married woman. Half my life, I have been the other half to Andrew Michael.
I will say that I prefer this half of my life to the earlier half, so that’s something.
I said “I do” just three months after graduating high school. Committed my life to a union of souls, and signed on the line, without a clue about how to really love someone.
Talking with a dear friend recently, she shared that to her, much like having children, maybe marriage isn’t about making us happy at all. No, maybe it is for our sanctification that God allows us to make such a bold commitment – maybe even an impossible commitment. I think she’s onto something. Marriage is our refining fire: showing all of our glaring insufficiencies, faults, and sins. Sometimes that fire is too hot for people, and they jump out of the burning building that marriage can be, and limp away wounded. But each time we choose to stay in a refining fire moment – to battle and fight for all that is good and holy about marriage – we come out more purified, humble, grateful, holy.
There are days and weeks where I haven’t wanted to be married. There are days and weeks when he has felt the same. Months of counseling that felt like it went nowhere. Ugly fights and days when I wondered why on Earth did I think I had a right to make such a life-altering decision at such a young age?
I am not the same woman Andrew married. We have both changed so much in 18 years. And we have had to bend and flex to fit each other’s changing selves. Sometimes it feels like we can’t imagine stretching further. Or maybe like we have bent and stretched for so long, and we are tired of the ache.
The years since I began nursing school have been long and hard, presenting us with one challenge after another, and we are left battleworn, hurt, confused. Going through the motions, prayer seems to have left our routine sometime last year. We have sacrificed. Did we sacrifice too much? Did we sacrifice our marriage? Didn’t we feel like this was the right thing for our family when we started this journey? We fight feelings of anger and betrayal – this is not the land He promised us.
We spend an evening side-by-side in bed, piles of papers surround us. And we take turns reading aloud love letters that are 19 years old. We read word-for-word the passages of scriptures we shared with each other in the months before we married. And tears fill our eyes, and my throat feels tight. My heart is tired, afraid, but I feel the smallest spark of hope. I look in his eyes and see it there too. And I decide that spark is what I will fight for.
We sit alone at the dining table, and he listens to my worries. His hand reaches across the great expanse of table between us. “Can I pray with you about it?” he asks, ever so tenderly. And my heart melts into a puddle of “absolutely” and “I thought you’d never ask” . . . and those tears are back, and my throat is tight. And there is a hope-filled spark daring us to fight.
That’s where we are today.
I have said it before and I still believe it to be true – marriage is an amazing gift, a blessing, a beautiful reflection of bigger things. But it ain’t no bed of roses. And it certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.
We have made it through hard seasons before and came out into beautiful seasons of joy and rest. The fact remains that Andrew is my person. I love him most in all the world. He knows me better than anyone and hasn’t walked away. And I have been given the gift of getting to be HIS person, the person who knows him best in all the world. Let me tell you, Andrew is an amazing person, and I am blessed to be his wife.
I believe Andrew and I are heading towards a new season of health – and I am confident that I serve a good Father in Heaven who will never let us fall so far that we are beyond His saving. The spark of hope I feel is real, and it is encouraging us to press on and fight.
All that is left, is to do what we know. Pushing beyond what we think we “deserve,” forgiving seventy times seven, running hard after our Lord because HE is what brought us together, carrying each other’s burdens, protecting each other’s spirits, rejoicing with each victory – no matter how small . . . .
We will fan the spark into flames.
Half my life.