Today Paul and I have been married for four years.
In those four years we have lived a fair amount of life. To be totally honest, I’ve had a blast. Somehow I still can’t get enough of him, like I literally never get tired of him. Sure he may frustrate me, and I may just be burnt out on life, but I still want to hang out with him, all the time. He left on a work trip yesterday, and we’ve talked approximately 10 times over the last 36 hours. I just really like him. So, I suppose we have that going for us.
He is still the first person I want to tell my good news, and the first person who wants to hear my bad news. He points me to God in ways I didn’t know possible, and has modeled sacrifice and selflessness to depths I couldn’t have imagined. I am incredibly blessed to be his wife.
I am a girl who loves an excuse to celebrate. Anniversaries are such milestones of remembrance and celebration. But like many things in life, we don’t like to celebrate and remember the hard parts of the journey. It feels safer to simply praise and provide glowing accolades for the final destination.
If I’ve learned anything from our story, it’s the importance of celebration for celebration’s sake. Our relationship, while fantastically fun and beautiful, has taught me to find joy in all seasons, to choose celebration, and to find thankfulness in trials.
Four years, and so many seasons of growth and deepening love.
1. A season of un(der)employment
Paul graduated in April of 2012 with degrees in Political Science, International Studies and a minor in German. (Michigan had a fancy way of saying it, but that’s what it boiled down to). When he talked to my dad about proposing, in March of 2013, Paul genuinely thought he might say no as he had no way to “provide” for me, working at a coffee shop, living in his little sister’s bedroom. He moved to Nashville and yet again couldn’t find a job. He soon began working at a coffee shop. In July of 2014 Paul was offered a temp position that later turned into a full time position in April 2015. Yes – you read that right, almost three years after graduating he finally became employed full-time.
The idea of a female bread-winner has been a gentle ribbing in our household our entire marriage. The majority of our marriage, thus far, I have “brought home the bacon.” I say this not because I have a massive ego, but to demonstrate the equality we operate in. Paul told me early on: “Your gain is my gain,” and that seemed to be that. When I dealt with the guilt over loving my job, while Paul struggled to find purpose and direction, we returned to that statement. When finances were tight and somehow God always made our ends meet, we returned to that statement. When Paul was frustrated by yet another rejection, we returned to this statement. Paul’s under-employment was hard, most definitely, but I celebrate all that was forged in us through it. Because of this season, our marriage is one of teamwork and sacrifice.
2. Seasons of anxiety
For a large chunk of our first and second year of marriage, I battled intense anxiety. While I would not say that I am completely devoid of anxiety, as I have my moments and days, I have not returned to the dark place I once found myself in. When I think about that season of our marriage I am humbled. I am humbled by the God that we serve, and the man He chose to walk through it with me. In the midst of one of the worst days, a friend prayed that our marriage would be galvanized through the fire. Those words, drenched in hope and promise, were a respite to my soul. This thing that we’ve got is too good to keep to ourselves. I held onto the promise that God would galvanize us and use our story as an example of His faithfulness.
Love is a choice. It takes guts. It is not for the faint of heart. That season, at my weakest and most vulnerable, I was not an easy person to choose. But each and every day, my husband showed up looking my ugliness in the face and calling me beautiful and chosen. What God fortified in that season in our marriage, our relationships with Him, our story, our future and our purpose is too sweet to put into words. He made something beautiful out of something really ugly. I am grateful He saw it fit to use something so difficult for His glory and to bless us with so very much. Celebration is easy when you have a hope that is eternal. Because of this season, our marriage is one of eternal hope.
3. Seasons of spurring on the other’s dreams
I heard a Shauna Niequist say once that there was room enough for two callings in her house. Her entire talk is incredible, but that particular line brought tears to my eyes. It is so encompassing of the types of people I want to be. I wrote the following about a year and half ago when Paul started grad school:
This practice is woven deep into the fabric of our little family. And I say practice because it takes repetition and messy trial and error to form the habit. Like anything worthwhile it is not a discipline that you arrive at quickly, but it was that we are committed to mastering no matter how long it takes. I have found that it gets easier and more second nature as time goes by, but it is a continuous effort and conscious thought. But for us, it’s worth it. It ranks high up on our values, and it plays into almost every decision that we make as a unit.
Paul and I decided long ago that as two parts making up a whole, each person’s individual calling and purpose was just as valuable as the others. We bought into the notion of individual and collective destiny. We became convinced that not prioritizing two callings was to rob the world of something necessary and of the highest value. We set out on unchartered territory with passion and purpose as our guides.
Having two callings in one marriage is not always easy. It’s messy and sacrificial, and exhausting at times, but it is worth it. Last year Paul took a big step. He said yes to going back to school. I didn’t bat an eye at the impending change and disruption to our rhythm that lie ahead. It involved sacrifice on my part, doing more dishes than I’d like, creating space and grace for studying. It’s been difficult, must mostly it’s been incredible. The reason I had no qualms is that Paul has done the same thing for me time and time again.
He has said yes to making our home a place of passion, purpose, exploration, adventure, and creativity. He has pressed me to get outside my comfort zone and pursue the things that make my heart come alive. He calls out things in me that I can’t see. There’s always room for us both to be pursuing dreams, no matter the logistics. Because of these seasons, our marriage is one of impact, creativity, and purpose.
4. Seasons of transition
Change has remained the only constant in our marriage. New has marked much of the last four years. With each new transition, I find that we tackle it with more ease and grace. But change is hard, transition is hard. I like to start new things, but I simultaneously have a tendency to become overwhelmed in the midst of transition. Paul once told me that our bodies react to stress in the same way, no matter if it is good stress or bad stress. New jobs are often good stress. Moving out of our first home together was a GOOD stress. Moving across the country, getting engaged, planning a wedding, getting married and starting a life with someone all in 4.5 months is good…but tiring stress. Changing jobs, changing churches, changing dynamics and each time facing new challenges.
I am not my best self in the midst of transition. It seems each time to trip me up, and come as a surprise. I rarely anticipate it well. I get upset and frustrated and feel my least favorite thing – weak. I am reminded YET AGAIN, the beauty of grace. Paul gets laser focused and a bit aloof as he’s walking through something new. Adjusting to transition and walking it out is an area that I long to grow and mature in, but thankfully we have a lifetime ahead of practice. Because of these seasons we are given opportunities upon opportunities to practice grace.
There is so much to celebrate!
So thankful for the last four years of doing this thing called marriage.