I think that's possibly the longest subject line I've ever had.
Because today is the anniversary of the first date with my now husband, I'm a little wispy eyed and dreamboatish. Just a little. I remember the nerves and the polo shirt he wore. I remember how I didn't want to go, how I was so set on eating and going home and being rid of this good ol' country boy who was that and nothing else. In near tears (or were there actual tears?) I called one of my best friends, Holly, on the drive to the restaurant, "I don't want to go! He's just going to be stupid like all the rest of them!"
I was deliciously wrong.
I knew I was wrong the second I wheeled my cabernet wine shaded Volkswagen Passat into a free parking space, one over from a shiny, impressive looking deep blue Ford F-150. He was sitting there, waiting on me and his profile alone made my heart drop down to my toes and then flood my face with heat and possibility. We got out of our respective vehicles, had our awkward, nervous, first-smiles hello and the rest was history.
It was already history and we hadn't even had chips and salsa, yet.
And now, four years since that date and nearing three since he gripped my hand so tightly that I thought the bones would break during our wedding ceremony... it still feels new. It feels old, too. I feel that I've never loved anyone else, ever. And while I know we had our own dating histories and ups and downs and broken pieces and dreams... it's as though that evaporated forever and we're left with hands and rings and a house and a dog. And a baby.
I still can't believe that the two people nervously talking and walking endlessly around a park walkway for hours turned into a husband and a wife. Turned into parents. What are we even doing? It's humbling and it's huge and it's best. Having our son is the best thing we have ever done together or separately. He's the pinnacle. He's the genesis of our marriage, as a quote that was placed in a scrapbook by my sister in-law for our boy so says.
I can't believe it all started so simply. Almost oddly. I love our love story. I think it's important to remember and appreciate where you were, where you've been. I love that I was so tortured and over it all that I didn't care anymore. (Aaron probably would have loved it if I hadn't been, considering this made his job a little harder in terms of convincing and winning my trust). I love that a co-worker turned friend just happened to find him, this stranger, at a local county fair. Grateful she took his business card and left it on my desk with a post-it note.
I believe so much more than I think I ever have before that it's truly the little things that matter. Maybe it's because I've been focusing on all the little details of life, some shiny, some cloudy, some bittersweet, some profound and logging them and thanking God for them. It's the small things I think you remember the best. Like the funny, random things he says that make me laugh until I cry. Or the times when I have been unable to be strong and he has been unmovable. For the times when I needed him to be braver than I was, and he was. For silliness and tickle fights and chasing our little man around the house just to hear that high pitched, adorable squeal we are addicted to.
I don't love my husband because of the things he does or how hard he works to provide for us or how well he cares for, protects and does everything in his power to make sure I'm simply happy. I love him because he's him. Because he's this surprising person who came unexpectedly into my life and turned everything around. I am continually amazed by how tremendous he is. I am so grateful that God let me have him. I could fill an entire journal and then some with simple thank-you's just for that. Just for that man.
And sometimes I'm a little bit of a diva and even in the times when I can't stand myself one more second, when I feel I'm beyond repair, beyond everything, he proves that it's not so bad, that his love stays. It's amazing what love can do. There was a day here recently when I was sitting on the couch in tears when he came into the room. I wanted to deny I was crying (and did) but he teasingly said it was okay and poked at the end of my nose. And I smiled.
I think... you know... that's just love. That's what it is. When you're lost and you're stuck and you're just plain sad about it. Sometimes that's all you need, just that confirmation and reassurance that you know, it's okay to be down but look, I can still make you smile. I can still remind you of what's important. I can still show you little things that are worth loving, worth living. Love is an awesome, grateful thing. I feel so blessed that God lets him and me be a part of our own little corner of it all.
When we were first married we ran into quite a few people who, while they probably thought they were being well-meaning, came off discouraging. They would tell us, "Oh, just wait until you've been married for ten years!" or "Oh, just wait until you start having kids!" The bleak pictures was terrifying to a young bride of fourweeks. But my husband was steady. Reassuring. So much of life is common sense, he would say. So much of people's problems are because of selfishness. And of course when fights do occur what is the frequent, underlying current? Self. Isn't that so life?
Years and children don't wreck marriages. Selfishness does. Sin does. I don't know everything or anything about marriage. I'm still incredibly new at this. I've been a wife for a short time and a Mom for even less. I don't have anything figured out or perfected or failure-proofed. And I'm not looking at the future thinking we ever will. I think we're always going to be two sinners who love each other, live in the same house, watch MythBusters, have babies. I don't think you ever reach a point in life, in love, when it's not about getting over yourself.
But it doesn't just fall in your lap day after day. You have to look for it. Appreciate it. Nurture it. Give thanks for it. Love is work, but not the kind of work some think... such as you have to fix the person or eventually get them trained to behave well in public and to fold laundry just the way you do. No, the work has more to do with meeting needs when you see them, not keeping score and determining to concentrate more on the things that are done and said vs. the things that aren't. It's an age old thing, isn't it? Focus on what you have and realize how blessed you are or spend time and energy and passion on what you don't and wind up feeling empty and losing it all.
Sometimes I wonder if the love you have is based on the love you think you have. Not in a delusional, self-convincing, "Oh no, he really loves me despite how terrible and awful he is." But you can convince yourself of pretty much anything. And if you want to see good, you will see good. But if you want to see failure and shortcoming, you'll find that, too. But only one of them will foster love. Only one of them will encourage someone else's spirit and love in return. The other options will just kill it all off.
Just like it was on that first date... I could hang onto my fierce defense mechanisms or I could give this great guy a chance. I could get over my expectations and the past or I could go on my merry way, convinced no one would be different. Convinced they all really are stupid. I'm grateful I picked up on the little things even then. I'm grateful for smiles that made my heart roll over like a contented puppy and text messages that I looked at over and over again, just to remind myself that it was real. That this was real life ever after happening. And it's the happily happening every day.
And I say thank-you often.
" Come live in my heart
and pay no rent. "
~ S a m u e l L o v e r