9 years ago, I looked you in the eyes and said I do.
For better, for worse, in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want- I pledged my life to you.
Those words were true back then, but I never knew HOW true they would become.
Our first year was wonderful, but it was hard. We never had enough money, we were adjusting to living on our own as adults for the first time, and we were still learning who the other person was.
We fought like crazy, but we loved like crazy.
Years 2, 3, 4, and 5 were also difficult. Again, there was never enough money. We fought over small things that didn't really matter. We juggled 2 children, a house, a dog, and 2 full time jobs. But we loved. We loved our babies. We loved our too small house. We loved our jobs and our life. Things were good even though they were difficult.
Year 6. What can I say about year 6? Life and death in that year. Baby number 3 came and left almost as suddenly as he arrived. We struggled with the grief and the pain of losing him, but we clung to each other. That was the year that God started showing me my faults. He started showing me my shortcomings and how I failed you as a wife and how I failed my children as a mother. That year, I spent most of my time in the deepest pits of depression, grief, and anxiety, but you remained strong. You carried the burden, and encouraged me to keep going.
That year, we could have easily lost everything. It could have been so easy for you to place the blame on me for the extra burden our family faced in the early days after Joshua died. You could have blamed me for the attacks on our family and the lack of privacy. You could have blamed me for the words that I wrote for the world to see. Instead, you loved me and you reminded me that you didn't blame me or find me at fault. You stood by me, encouraging me, loving me and showing me patience and grace.
Up until that point, it was all about me. Our love was real, but I was horribly selfish and controlling. You gave and gave and gave, and I took and took and took.
Year 7. God started showing me what it meant to be a wife. After year 6, I was able to see that your love is true. Your love is exactly how God calls it to be: patient, kind, gentle, selfless, humble, and just. Love does not give up, and is unconditional. Because of your love, I was able to see you for who God intended you to be. Our leader. Our provider. Our comforter. That is the year that, in my eyes, your shoulders became strong and could carry the weight of our family without failing. I found freedom and security in letting you lead.
Year 8. We fought less than we ever did before. Your love remained constant, and I was finally able to rest in the security you gave to our family. Another baby came, and anxiety and grief continued to rear it's ugly head, but you continued to stand by me encouraging me and loving me without exception. Your patience with me is not unseen. Our children have witnessed what a good husband and father should be. The example you set for us has been nothing short of Godly and you make submitting to your leadership easy and natural. Everything you do is for the good of our family. I love you for this. I love you for being you.
As we come into year 9, I pray that we don't face the hardships that we have faced in the past. I pray that we continue into a period of rest. I pray that your strength and ability to lead does not falter. I pray that our marriage continues to be an example and a blessing to our children. I pray that I live up to the calling of what a wife should be. But I trust that if we face more hardships, that we will survive. Our love will survive. I trust that God will help us find a way, because He is the center of all that we do.
Shane, Happy Anniversary. I love you more than words can ever express. Thank you for being my rock, my guide, and my love. I love you.