Every anniversary, I write a blog about our marriage, but this time I’m a little late… one month and twelve days, to be exact. This anniversary was an adventure, to say the least. And not the kind we are used to. From the Colorado Rockies to the shores of Mackinac, we’ve always celebrated our anniversary pursuing our next adventure together! Even when I was eight months pregnant with swollen ankles, we packed up the car and spent three nights camping in the back of our decked out SUV. We’ve conquered the highest thrill coasters at the amusement park, watched fireworks from a classy hotel room, and even driven seven hours on a whim just to eat St. Louis bbq for our anniversary dinner.
Our relationship has been characterized by these kinds of fun-loving adventures!
But this year was different. This year our anniversary wasn’t loud or flashy. It wasn’t a five star experience full of majestic views or expensive dinner reservations. This year, we had just been discharged from the fluorescent lights of the Pediatric ICU with our newborn daughter. It’s not the anniversary we had hoped for, but it’s one we will always remember.
Our Vows Extend Beyond Us
Every anniversary, Joseph writes me a a heartfelt letter. And this year was no exception.
When we realized we’d likely be spending our anniversary in the hospital, Joseph grabbed the only thing within reach… a notepad the nurses had given us. We’d been using it to jot down questions for the doctors and any notes we wanted to remember from morning rounds. It certainly wasn’t a fancy, embellished Hallmark card, but it might be my favorite anniversary letter to date. Because it was real, raw, scribbled with the pressure of a ballpoint pen and the weight of the moment.
There was one line in that letter that stood out to me… and, in a way, inspired this anniversary blog post. In a moment of quiet reflection, Joseph wrote these words, “When we vowed in sickness and in health, we could have never imagined the ways it would extend beyond the two of us.”
He’s right. As a twenty-one year old bride, I could have never imagined rushing to the ER with our newborn baby. I could have never imagined the sound of my infant’s cries, not from hunger or a soiled diaper, but from multiple pokes and prods of failed IVs. I couldn’t have imagined fearing for her life as she lay there, sedated with heavy doses of anti-seizure meds, hoping she’d wake up to the sound of her mommy’s voice.
Yet there we were in the Pediatric ICU, leaning against each other with soft touches and tender words, sharing laughs and smiles where we could, drawing us back into the love that we vowed when we were younger.
Suddenly those words “in sickness and in health” weren’t just about us. Those words were about our child. Our love had extended beyond the two of us and into something more, into a new little life. And isn’t that how love should be?
1 Corinthians tells us love is not self-seeking. By its very nature, love is external. It isn’t just reciprocal. It is outpouring, giving, and we could see that physical embodiment of our love in the eyes of our baby girl.
Our days were spent holding our daughter in tangled cords, trying to keep her comfortable, talking to specialists, and sanitizing everything we touched as we updated our prayer warriors on Phoebe’s condition. We hardly had time to sleep let alone think about how we were going to celebrate the love that we share… yet there it was. The love that had brought us together, the love that had created this little life, was stretched thin, pulling on the very sinews that held it together. And what did it reveal?
The Faith That Seals Our Vows
The vows we made eight years ago aren’t held together by happy days, grand adventures or even our own personal commitment. No. They are held together by the faith that we share in a God who holds all things together. God is love, after all.
That’s how, eight years ago, we could vow our love to one another, without knowing what the future would hold. That’s how we could commit “in sickness and in health” without knowing the little faces that our promises would embody.
And so, on this eighth anniversary, I don’t just celebrate the love of my life. I celebrate the life that our love embodies. The way it extends beyond the two of us.
I celebrate the faith that seals our vows. The God we vowed to. And the people who witness the words unfolding, encouraging us with prayers and support.
This anniversary, as I look in the eyes of my husband and our two beautiful daughters, I’m humbly reminded of the strength behind those faith-filled promises.
READ ASHLEY’S PREVIOUS ANNIVERSARY BLOGS:
My Grandma often scolds me that I do not take time “to stop and smell the roses”. She’s right. I don’t. I like to keep busy and do as much as possible. Even when I’m spending time with the people that I love, I like to squeeze in the memories and “maximize” the time. Thankfully, I’m married to a man who knows how to slow down.
As we arrive at this new season with the stability of a paycheck, a house payment and a family of three, it seems we are no longer “in the waiting”. In the world’s eyes, we’ve finally arrived. This is “the moment we’ve been waiting for”, or so we are told.
I didn’t think I wanted to get married so young. I wasn’t looking for a husband. I was looking for a career. Marriage and family? That could wait until after I’d put my degree to use. Maybe 28. Maybe 30. That’s when it would be time to settle down….. Those were my thoughts as a nineteen year old girl. I knew that I wanted to get married… someday. But that someday seemed a lot farther off than the two years when I’d be standing in front of the altar exchanging wedding vows at only 21 years old. So what changed? My perspective on what marriage is and what marriage isn’t. As a 21 year old bride, I realized that marriage isn’t just a season of life. It’s doing all of life… together.