Writing about marriage love on the internet can be dangerous. You get mixed reactions. There are those that roll their eyes with a “Gag me, please. Keep it between the two of you.” And there are those that read of beautiful love and churn with envy. They long for a partner they do not have, or they look at the one they do have and cry, “Why aren't you like this?”
I've done some internet reading on marriage love myself, and I've done a bit of both the gagging and the envying. But here's what has also happened. When someone moves beyond the shiny veneer we like to show people and actually cracks open their marriage door to allow the rest of us to peer in at the beauty that the mess of marriage can bring, I am awed and encouraged. Awed at the power of God to take two broken vessels and make them better than one. Encouraged to grow past my selfishness that is so large and be the honoring, serving, life-giving spouse that I long to be.
Up till now, the dangers have made me hold back from sharing much about marriage. But today is special. Today I dare to crack open the marriage door and let you see what marriage has done to me. But really, this is not for you. It's for my husband. I share only in hopes that you might be awed at God and encouraged to be the person my husband is to me. So peer in and see. Here's a letter to my husband.
On your birthday I want to give you that gift, the perfect one that touches you deep and warms you right through. But you know how utterly awful I am at actually doing that. Once or twice I've hit the home run and found just the right thing. But this year as usual, try as I might, I just can't think of what it would be. But here's what I can think of: all that you are to me. So here's my gift of crafted words for you.
You are to me...
You are to me wisdom. When life is all foggy and my heart all in knots, it's wisdom I long for, and it's to you that turn. I've never known one that sees like you see, clear to the core. You root through the muck and get to the truth. You see clearly, know truly. Our wealth may stack small in the eyes of some, but your God-given wisdom reaps wages better than gold. You are wisdom.
You are to me grace. I remember sitting in a parked car in college, sobbing on your shoulder. Rivers of grace swirled around me, overwhelmed me. I was knowing grace anew. And I was knowing it through you. I didn't know then that for all my days you would be grace to me. I don't know how you do it. How can words of criticism for me not pass your lips? You know every broken part of me, and yet you never try to fix me. You let our Father do the mending. And you let him do it in his own so very slow and gradual way. And if there are parts that never see repair this side of eternity, I think you're even still content, for you love me wholly, accept me without condition. You are grace.
You are to me art. It was you who first called out the artist in me. Before I would never describe myself as creative or artistic. Then I saw how you made art with your life. Always creating, always expressing. And you gently nudged me to find my heart's art. You knew it was there, even though I did not. You knew it needed to break out and find itself. You gave me time to find it and you helped it grow. And now my heart sings. In the sculpting of words, the stirring of spices, the kneading of dough, my soul has found its space. You've even let me into your art of photography, allowing it to become our art. The artist in me is alive, and she turns to you in gratitude. You are art.
You are to me faith. I like to think myself the daring one. But we both know that when it comes to life's most daring leaps, you are the one that dares. You are the one that jumps. Then you turn to quivering me and offer your steady hand. Your faith is neither blind nor naive, but grounded in wisdom, in who you know God to be. And I love you for this. I love the life it's causing us to live, and I love that when this life overwhelms me, your faith holds me fast. You are faith.
This is what marriage to you has done to me. The line that marks where you end and I begin has grown beautifully bleary these last seven and a half years. And oh, that in the decades to come it would blur ever more. Today I celebrate all that you are, that I am yours and you are mine, that each night I fall asleep with your hand on my side.
Happiest of Birthdays to you, My Love.