Today, Brandon and I celebrate twenty years of marriage. I’ve spent more of my life with this man than I did without him.
Most days it doesn’t seem possible; it feels as if it’s just been a few years since I was a nineteen-year-old bride, walking down the aisle of a Kentucky church with my whole future ahead of me.
But then there are other days.
Recently, I was shopping for a dress to wear on an anniversary trip we are preparing to take. I liked the idea of wearing a white dress to signify the celebration of our twenty years of marriage. As I looked through dresses, I came across several that were beautiful and I thought to myself about how pretty they would be on a young bride… but not on me.
It occurred to me in that moment that I didn’t feel like a “bride” anymore.
Brandon often refers to me as his bride.
It’s a sweet term of endearment, and yet it didn’t feel like it “fit” anymore. And I stood there feeling every moment of these twenty years weighing heavily upon me. A whole lot of life has happened in these two decades.
Then, within seconds, those sad heavy feelings took shape into something powerful and beautiful.
I’m not his young bride anymore, I’m so much more.
Twenty years ago, I loved him because he was sweet and kind and because he was crazy about me.
Twenty years ago, I walked down that aisle to the dream of living married life with very little difficulty and lots of comfort.
Twenty years ago, I was a girl determined to get her way and live the life she wanted.
But now… Well now, I am the girl he has fought for. I am the girl that he has chosen every single day for twenty years. I am the girl who has learned to love this man in great sorrow, difficulty, and with a future unknown. I’ve learned that my way and my plans are shallow and empty, but God’s way has grown our love, our faithfulness, and the grace we show for each other over and over again.
During these last two decades, we’ve known great joy through the births of Ella, Sam, and Drew.
We’ve experienced what it means to truly do life with friends who love our family so well. We’ve worked hard and we’ve seen dreams come true. We’ve tasted the goodness of God through his church and we’ve had the sacred privilege of witnessing the gospel transform lives as we’ve planted Grace Hills.
We’ve also known great sorrow in the loss of two babies, and through infertility. We’ve hurt each other deeply and we’ve been wounded by the world. We’ve struggled and felt confusion over what the next steps should be, and we’ve felt genuine fear about our marriage and about our future.
Twenty years of marriage have taught me that you cannot fully experience the goodness of God without knowing your need through suffering. Every tear and heartache have been worth the comfort, clarity, and love that shows up.
Today, I get to celebrate being his bride… and so much more.