But that's not to say our marriage is perfect....it's definitely not because it's made up of two completely imperfect people. But we extend grace to each other, and to ourselves. We laugh, cry, fight, discuss, walk, dance, whisper, soar, and limp through this crazy messy life. But it's a beautiful life precisely because of the mess. No mess means no grace given or received. I give thanks everyday for this life partner God has chosen for me. I am passionate about marriage because it makes the world a brighter, better place, It's a tangible way to witness a small sliver of God's unconditional love for us (much like the parent and child relationship). On our one year anniversary we went to Lake Tahoe and we bought a sign (well, AJ surprised me with it after I mentioned I liked it in a store and he went back and bought it for us while I was getting a facial. See what I mean? He's a keeper). It says, "Forever, For Always, No Matter What." We had no idea what those last three words would mean to us. I want to grab ahold of every young couple engaged or thinking of marriage and tell them the story of our summer and say, "See??? This is what life can throw at you. Pick the person you want beside you for something like that." Pick someone who will hold your hand as the windows of the life as you know it rattle and shake all around you and you are able to still smile as you whisper to each other, "This too shall pass."
The other morning I woke up to the sun streaming through the windows...I was comfortable and content under piles of down blankets and lots of pillows. Suddenly my wedding ring caught me eye. The sun hit it at just the right angle and I looked at it through the eyes of a newlywed: It sure was pretty. I realized I wear this ring day in and day out and never really bothered to even notice it (or the significance it holds). Since then, my ring has caught my eye at other times. I'll glance at it during the work day, look down at it in the line at the grocery store, and I'll see it shimmer on the gym floor as I'm holding a plank. Basically, I'm looking at it like I did when I first received it: I'm savoring the sparkle. I'm remembering what it felt like to have that ring on my finger when it was new, with the joyful excitement of a newlywed. It wasn't until I looked at something simple like my ring that I discovered how much I was taking the gift of marriage and my one in a million husband for granted. How much I take a lot of things for granted. Not cool, Leslie. I want to look at everything in my life with the mindset of, "Isn't it incredible?" Life is SO precious. I never knew exactly how precious until recently.
This doesn't just apply to the gift of marriage or material things. How many things/life experiences do we currently have that we once danced with joy to have received them? Did we work hard for years and years and now we are living in a home that we once only dreamed of? Did you wish and pray for a church community that you love and enjoy and now you're a regular on Sunday mornings, knowing the worship songs by heart? Did you spend hours scanning through job options and tweaking your resume, only to land a job that you enjoy and that you are good at? Have you dreamed of the day you'd be a parent and now you rock your little one to sleep and load up the stroller for evening walks? Did you wish for a good friend, who knows the depths of your joy and sorrow while you were in the midst of loneliness and now you've got yourself a core group of great pals with whom you share stupid memes with via text? Have you had your mind and heart planted firmly on graduation day, to get that degree and feel accomplished? Now school is behind you and you can celebrate never footnoting or works citing anything ever again. Have you battled with that last 5, 10, 15, or 20 pounds? Now you realize the number on that scale does not define you: you are strong, fit, active, and treat your body with dignity.
In the mess, it's so easy to forget how big we are blessed (this is one of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs, "This is the Stuff" by Francesca Battistelli). Stop, pause, reflect, grow, and give thanks. Savor the sparkle. After all, you once only dreamed of it.