Towards the end of this week, Jason and I will celebrate our fourth anniversary. We met in the Summer of 2004, were engaged in December of 2006, and were married on March 24th, 2007. Our wedding day was celebratory and worshipful; we were two young hearts looking out on the world and believing that together–and with God, we could take it by storm. I still remember so many of the details of that day with incredible clarity. I knew that we were making the biggest commitment of our lives before God. But what I could not have imagined is how much God would use us to grow and shape each other, or how much we would have molded together, despite drastic peaks and valleys, over four years’ time.
As newlyweds, we ventured across the globe to fulfill a shared passion in Africa through ministry. Those days are still quite tangible to me, too. We knew so little yet about who we were as husband and wife, and I don’t think that we could see so clearly then how deeply united we were becoming in our experience. Living in a small room together, with all that we needed in a 12×12 space, we learned about coping with hardships, facing one another in every circumstance and finding joy together in the little things. We climbed mountains, both literal and figurative; we built relationships cross-culturally and fell in love with a whole different part of God’s creation, and we pursued adventure with abandon, as unabashedly as we could manage in our own naivety. I am still discovering, nearly three years later, so many of the ways that God strengthened, supported and protected us in that chapter.
And since, we have established home–not only with each other, but in a space that we have grown to love and call our own. We have come through eleven physical seasons under the same roof, and through each one we have learned more about being home owners, caretakers, gardeners, pet owners, cooks, hosts and neighbors. More than that though, we have defined a great deal of what we desire for the place where we welcome others and where we return to at the end of the day. There is rarely an occasion anymore when I don’t delight in cultivating and shaping this address and all that exists behind its doors. And as we both contribute to temperature of this place, we learn more and more what is important and what we can let go; we see the flaws in the old foundation and we recognize our own.
In what now feels like a very short matter of time, we will add to our number and bring home the newest representation of who we are as one. In its simplest form, our child is and will physically be the blending of two people who, apart, would not be anywhere near the same as who we are together. At its most complex, our little one will lean on every word and exchange and interaction we share; he or she will become more and more like us over time–whether good or bad, by the example that we set forth and the love we express for each other. We will recognize ourselves again in the reflection of a tiny face and mind and body–one that God is entrusting to us for such a time as this.
For the past four years (and even before then), it has taken trials and celebrations, successes and failures, disappointments and surprises to bring us to where we are. But without being “in the fire” so-to-speak, with each other, there’s no way we’d be as ready to step into the next four years, to become parents, or to continue to learn how to love well. Marriage, for us, has been raw and vulnerable and has stripped us each of our preconceptions and assumptions–both about ourselves and about the other person standing in front of us at the end of the day. We are still learning all of the time. And we still get it wrong here and there. But we hope to get it more and more “right” as we go. And we couldn’t make that happen if we weren’t two people making every effort to look out in the same direction.
It takes two saying “Yes!” to God in marriage, and two saying “Yes!” to parenthood, and two saying “Yes!” to every day–no matter what it brings, to get to four years and forty and then some…
one half of two,