seven years ago today, (September 18th, 2004) i got married. married. i don't even know how many people we invited, but it was a ton. all of our family. both of my work offices. his education cohort at the university. our entire church. my friends from undergraduate school. i had a stunning white gown; he looked dashing in his very formal, traditional tuxedo. we were jubilant and ready and in love and we laughed and loved and our church came together to put it all together. we had the happiest of ceremonies - performed with abandon and enthusiasm.
people would tell me later they had never been to a wedding that was so ... happy.
as young marrieds, we were in charge of 1st through 6th grade children's ministries. we lead a church mission to Mexico. we moved to the vineyard town so he could take his first job teaching english as a second language to elementary school children.
he was young and vibrant and impulsively impish. the life of the party -- the one you could count on to be just a little bit naughty. or a lot naughty. you just never knew what that crazy boy was going to do next.
maybe that is why three years after we married, we were divorced. that quick impulsiveness never went away, but morphed into something terribly and horribly heart breaking. no thinking about consequences. living for the here and now. wrecked a marriage. maybe two, but i couldn't keep track of the other marriage for too long for fear that doing so would stir up a sense of revenge within me. it wrecked my faith in jesus for a long time. (i remember clearly the moment when i felt i could start walking back to jesus. it was when my counselor asked me what i thought god thought about my divorce and i blurted out, without thinking, immediately, "god HATES divorce! and i did it anyway!" and promptly started sobbing. [nevermind that i had a biblical out. nevermind i had consulted two pastors and my closest, most reliable friends.] my counselor handed me the tissue box and said quietly, "god doesn't hate divorce in the context that you did something bad and you will now be punished. god hates the effects of divorce on his children; he hates to see you hurt like this. you didn't do anything wrong. you're not being punished." oh, how i wish i could tell that to all of the darling daughters who are in that same spot. something really very ugly broke off of me at that point, and i was able to start standing up to people who looked down on me and said, "love hurts. you have to love through the hurt.")
seven years later, on september 18th, i am planning a new wedding. a new marriage. a new life.
it's more than a bit scary.
i know now, really know, really, really know, what marriage is like. i know how hard it is. i know the exact, unmistakable, ear splitting sound of a heart breaking when marriage doesn't work out. (such the understated euphemism "doesn't work out" is). it is a risk. it didn't feel like a risk seven years ago. it feels like a risk right now.
and i know how amazing it is when it really works out. when you have a partner you adore. when you have a partner who is your true ... partner. at its best, marriage is, perhaps, one of the greatest gifts in the world.
i tell shoes all the time that i do not think i would be doing this again if it wasn't him i was marrying. i don't want just another marriage. married just for the sake of being married? no thank you. i certainly don't want just another wedding.
it's shoes. i want shoes in my daily life. i want to come home and talk about work with him and walk the dog with him and adopt children with him. i want him to forever poke gentle fun at the way i worry incessantly. i want to forever turn around and see him standing there calmly. i want to forever hear him chuckling the chuckle he has when he thinks he's being a little bit evil.
and so, ironically, i think i have something to thank my first husband for after all ... seven years after the wedding date and four years after the divorce. if he and i hadn't shared at least some genuine love, at some point, i think i would write marriage as an institution off ... forever. but i remember some good times. i remember that the experience of marriage can be amazing. and that, in conjunction with same amazing healing from a good god, and the man that shoes is, has lead to some serious hope and possibility.
shoes know this. he knows this because i've told him. save nothing else, it's what i want him to know in the midst of all the wedding crazy. i'm in it because he's in it. and i'm all in. despite the risk.
it feels right to finally be able to say that. funny, the places you find yourself getting to seven years later.