Today is a sweet reminder. Twenty-one years ago today I became a bride. The long desired day culminated-at least for me (wink)-in the words, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” A movie reel that had been in production since I was a small child became a premiere motion picture.
I was chosen.
He showed up at the altar and stared with longing as I walked the aisle.
I felt beautiful.
He was strong and handsome. The New Zealand accent only added to the romance.
Well, fast forward 21 years. I sit here alone, kids grown and gone, and my groom off at work. That is the beauty of the story of our love. Over the years it has both glowed with passion and smoldered with bitterness. We’ve also known all the points in between, like now. So, here are 21 confessions from a bride who feels haggard and worn today, but also one who refuses to let the dream die; from a woman who knows she is still his bride; from someone so grateful for the journey; from someone who knows it wouldn’t have worked with anyone else:
- I confess that I have expected too much and desired too little at times. From before the opening scene, God entered the feature film of “us” and inserted Himself as Hero. He is the Author, right? The hero doesn’t always have to be my groom. I’ve learned to lay down expectations that drain and devour, but I’ve also learned that I couldn’t possibly want all there is to want. A new adventure always awaits!
- I confess it is ok to buy 2 dozen roses and a bottle of wine for our anniversary. After 21 years, still together and speaking to one another, we deserve to celebrate.
- I confess I sometimes feel broken, humbled by God’s work as He chips and smooths our marriage and our selves. Sometimes it’s as simple as a failed new recipe or as complex as my desire for my groom to move worlds to accommodate who I am.
- I confess I now know far more than I ever could have known without my groom. I know that 1) his “not too bad” really means “thank you,” 2) boots on the front porch mean I am still his chosen bride (even though a neighbor dog ate one boot, he is still wholly committed), and 3) scooping litter and dumping compost really means “I love you.”
- In the shadowy, nauseating moments of fear, anger, disappointment and, oh yes, vomiting, spit up, and diarrhea, I confess I have wanted my groom to mount the metaphorical white horse and ride in to save the day, to whisk me off into the sunset where all would be well—and clean-smelling. We have a couple of dogs, a couple of cats, and on occasion a turtle, hamster, or opossum, but no knights on white horses, unless you count the one who carts me off to the doctor when sick, rubs my shoulders when I am exhausted, and feeds the list of critters that call this place home.
- I confess that at times I am too much, too little, and always a “handful.”
- I confess that I believe #6 is one reason my groom loves me.
- I confess in the not-so-quiet hours of snore-filled nights, I have considered leaving. Then my Hero reminds me that 21 years ago I signed a contract, and its ok to stay sometimes just because I signed a contract.
- The same contract I signed those many years ago also permit benefits that I never want to give up—you know, like snuggles when I’m cold, the fan on at night when I’m hot, and grace when I’m grouchy.
- Sometimes the music sounds intense, like when a stalker is about to make a move. When the movie presents a confusing mystery and the music warns us, I confess that my groom and my Hero both play a role in defusing the explosion waiting inside me. My fear needs intimacy, trust, and real arms to hold me.
- I confess I never learned how to love well.
- I also confess that I am learning to love well. This is what makes the relationship far more than fuzzy warm feelings and sexuality. Love grows. It’s a choice some days. Most of the time it is stability, kindness, patience…and forgiveness.
- I confess that I am weak: some days with love, other times with resignation, and still others with mundane drama. I can soar with confidence and crash with self-loathing. And my groom still rises and works and loves. We have grown into life together.
- I confess that I could sit here for a week and keep confessing how my groom is my strength. He is the one that tethers my invisible, flying, scattered soul to the earth.
- I confess that my groom holds me with open hands much like we have all held a butterfly-with tenderness,winsomeness, and trust that while flying, it will remember the kindness of being set free.
- I confess that when the plot takes a sudden and unnerving turn, my groom remains. I tend to walk away, shake the sand off my feet, and see only desperation. I quit. When the fog clears, however, there he is in the distance, and here am I—both waiting for one another.
- I confess that the laughter in our drama and the tinkering along forest trails inspires me to seek the joy I can also find in my Hero. My groom points me to a higher Love.
- I confess that my groom is a broken man and I am a broken woman. We are art shattered. We are not forgotten however. My Hero is an artist and a writer. He sculpts our wounds with creative redemption.
- When the feature film is ready to end, I confess I pray it is one in which the bride and the groom renew the vows that held them through the fear and the triumph, and will inspire them to look deeply into the distance for the face of the Hero.
- I confess I need our Hero more than my groom, but my groom points to our Hero so both are inseparably necessary.
- I confess this day that I love my groom. Regardless of how you see us, I am his and he is mine, and our Hero approves.