Average read time: 6–7 minutes.
Dear reader: Normally every wedding anniversary, I write a post on what I’ve learned in our last year of marriage. (You can read the old ones here, here, here, here, here, here, here or here.) But no numbered lists this time.
I wrote this post the form of a story, although all of these moments are true. When you get to the end, I hope that you’re left remembering those who have loved you deeply: a close friend, a sibling, a parent, a spouse, Christ Himself, whoever who has made you feel valued to your fullest extent. And I hope you’re also left remembering those in your life who have taught you to love well.
The June sun had already gone down—I was dripping in sweat and choking on the thick Southern humidity in the air—and I’m pretty sure I accidentally said a couple of bad words in earshot of our neighbors while helping carry a dresser that was too heavy for me.
At about 9:55 p.m. on a weeknight (way past our bedtime if you know us well), Nick and I were shoving the majority of our belongings into a metal shipping container parked in our driveway.
With bruises on our arms and scrapes on our legs, working by porch and dim street light alone, we persisted in wrapping up the entirety of each heavy couch cushion in sticky clear plastic film to protect it on its 381-mile journey north.
Yes, I could’ve sold more furniture. Yes, we could have moved with less. But I sure as heck wasn’t going to give up all the things that made me feel at home after surrendering everything else in my life for this move. When we got to where we were going, I wanted to still feel like me. Keeping my couch and my plants and that big weird desk I got for free was how I was going to attempt to do that.
We were grumpy, tired, and should’ve stopped working a long time ago, but we were on a tight schedule. My arms were aching and getting weaker (you know that noodley feeling, don’t you?), and at one point, I just started giggling.
“We should start a moving business,” I said to Nick through that kind of laughter where, when you hear it, you question if the person is sane or not. He looked over at me in our dark driveway, and despite the limited light, I could see he was annoyed.
“We’ll call it ‘Married Couple Movers,’” I said, still giggling, “And our tag line will be, ‘We’ll argue so you don’t have to!’”
At that point, I got a big grin out of him. Score.
In our eighth year of marriage, we learned how to love each other deeply even when life didn’t love us back.
Even when the world tried to take us down with it, even when big, good, hard changes were happening, even when grief hovered over our home like a relentless storm, even when every possible restful second felt stolen from us or just completely unrestful. We stood together and learned how to carry one another in grief. We held each other even if and even then.
If it wasn’t for Christ, for God guiding us this last year, holding us together, and revealing Himself over and over through every circumstance, I don’t know how we would’ve made it through the last 12 months without losing our sanity. But we didn’t lose our sanity, and we learned to love one another in more profound ways. I feel like this was the first year of our marriage I really felt the reality of Ecclesiastes 4:12.
There were a lot of firsts we experienced in our eighth year.
- I heard Nick yell for the first time. (If you know Nick, you know that even picturing him yelling is very hard to do. This is a whole other story for another time.)
- We cared for children together for the first time. (And not only children, but children who had experienced and were experiencing trauma. See #1. Good grief, that’s a circus. Bless you, child therapists and special education teachers.)
- We grieved big together for the first time. (We’ve experienced individual losses before our marriage and other losses in our marriage, but this was the first time we experienced a death of a loved one while married.)
- We lost our first pet, our beloved young dog, to cancer, and had to make the difficult decisions regarding her care together.
- We made our first big move together for Nick’s new job.
- Nick got his first silver hairs along his sideburns, and the creases in my face grew in number. See above list.
Then comes July 2, 2018, the day that we drove away from my home of 12 years. The storage container had already been moved a couple of weeks ago. There was just a small moving van left to fill, one piled with oddly shaped things that you would normally carry in a couple car trips if this were a cross-town move.
I hugged our neighbor goodbye, I looked at my garden for the last time, I cried with a dear friend who stopped in, I dug up a meaningful plant from our flowerbed that I wanted to keep, and I told the little boys across the street who we loved that we would always remember them and that being kind to others was more important than being smart, fast, or rich.They asked if we’d get another dog. I cried, and they cried a little too while doing their best to hold their basketball still.
Nick and his dad, who had helped us on this moving day (bless him!), left ahead of me. I stood in the empty house for a while. I locked the keys inside for the real estate agent. I felt pretty alone but simultaneously carried by Jesus in all of this change.
On the five-hour drive to Nick’s grandparents’ farm, a place we were stopping in for the night before heading to Columbus, I cried on and off in the car. I didn’t listen to a darn thing—no music, podcasts, radio. My thoughts were too loud.
There was so much change in this one year that it makes me a bit nervous for the next one, I thought to myself. The sun was setting beautifully over the green hills. A friend of mine was making a similar drive north on the same highway the same evening, and she texted me “This sunset!” The drive really was exceptionally lovely, and it really was exceptionally hard.
It was dark when I pulled onto the road of the farm. Although I couldn’t see much because of how dark it was, all was familiar; I’ve been there with Nick so many times. I knew where everything was: the big beautiful trees that lined the driveway, the crunchy gravel tracks that my tires were to follow, the line where the crops started.
We lost Nick’s Nana unexpectedly right after Thanksgiving this year, and she and Pops had been married 60 years. She had Alzheimer’s, but other than that, she was fully physically able (and running around everywhere, all the time). Pops can’t get around much anymore, so she was the body, as the family says. They were so intertwined.
Every time we visited, they were always so giggly, flirty, and talked of Jesus and each other. Although I never knew exactly what was being celebrated, there was always an air of celebration in their home. They left their wedding album out on the coffee table for all to see. The kept the Christmas decorations up year-round. Since the first day I met them, nine years ago now, both Nana and Pops treated me like I had always been there. I loved how Pops still called Nana “baby,” and it seemed like they had their own language that no one else could decipher.
I remembered, at the end of Nana’s funeral when attendees had cleared out, seeing Pops walk up to Nana’s body and saying to her through the kind of tears that only 60 years of depth and honor and treasuring can produce, I have loved you all my life.
Out of respect for the moment and my own sense of composure, I had to leave the room. All I could think about was how much I loved Nick and how I wanted to have that many years with him.
The truth is, ten years ago, I was afraid of marriage. My family experience has been difficult, unfair, divorce-laden. But I’ve never for one moment been afraid of life with Nick. Marriage has been the sweetest gift that I never thought I needed. It has taught me about the love of Christ in ways I never imagined it could.
As I pulled into the long driveway of the farm my husband loves so much, and one I’ve come to deeply love as well, I saw the moving truck and our car. I saw Nick (the sweaty, tired mess that he was), and my heart finally reposed after the five hours of silently grieving the loss of my home and praying for what’s to come. I walked up to him in the dark after I parked the car, and he smiled. Score.
Wherever we go, we go together.
Whatever happens to us, it happens to us together.
Eight years in, and the power of being deeply loved still shakes me and gives me a place to rest at the same time. Eight years in, and we’re still just getting started.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV): Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Nick, I’ll go wherever you go, even if it causes me to give up everything else and parts of me that I’ve loved—unless it’s a dumb idea. Ha! And this move is not a dumb idea. Thank you for listening to what the Lord is asking of you, of us, and thank you for living out what you’re created for. I’m more than proud to be your wife, always. You are braver and bolder than people know and even kinder and more patient than people see—and I’m thankful I get a front-row seat to who you are and how you live out all of those parts of you.
Truly, I’ve seen the way that you love others break down walls. You make me want to be more like Jesus.
If you liked this post, you might also like:
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