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Beautiful. I recently wrote a post about how marriage can be very hard. On the other side of hard, there is a beauty and joy that make the hard more than worth it.

There is joy in deciding to be fully known by someone. In being fully known, you are given this wonderful freedom. You are free to be vulnerable. You are free to need your husband or wife. You are free to be forgiven. You are free to be loved, whatever comes. 

This person has seen you at your worst and decided to love you anyway. There’s also a lot of responsibility in that. There’s responsibility to always be working to be better. To be more considerate. To pay attention to how they need to be affirmed. To pray for them. To work on your own heart and to own your walk with the Lord so you are continually being transformed into the likeness of Christ.

There’s a weight and an importance in seeing the heart of Christ as the goal for your life in knowing that pursuing Him is how you become like Him. I recently was talking with a friend and they said that trying to be like Jesus seemed like too high a goal to attain. I want to say this plainly: if you want your marriage to work and display Christ and His love for His bride, there’s no one else to try to be like. You don’t need to try to be like your parents (or not like them) or like a pastor you admire or like some famous blogger. If you want to make your marriage work, you have to ever-fix your eyes on Jesus as the goal of your life. That’s also bigger than marriage. If you want to be who He has called you to be, look to Him. 

There is joy in this work. The fruit that develops between a husband and wife who are constantly doing the hard yards of walking with Jesus while loving each other produces a depth of love and appreciation that is sustaining. It’s sustaining for when you do hurt each other’s feelings, because you will. It’s sustaining for when one of you messes up and pride keeps you from owning it. It’s sustaining to know that you will be forgiven when you seek it. It’s sustaining for a day that may come when you want out. 

Marriage has been filled with beautiful things I would have never known without my husband. I was twenty when we were married so we always say we grew up together as a joke, but when I look back on it, we did in a lot of ways. The truly funny thing is for a lot of my life I thought I would maybe never want to be married, and I knew without a doubt that I would never get married young. We all have ideas like this, but it’s always fantastic how what God has for us is always better. The minute that blue-eyed boy with the great hair and smile started teaching me guitar I was done for! 

We came into adulthood like people who don’t get married at the age we did, but we did it having nothing to hold onto but the covenant we made with God and each other. We knew we were young, but we also knew that any seconds we spent not being husband and wife would be wasted. We didn’t do that without caution or without knowing it would be hard. 

Even the hard stuff had joy in it. If we had gas in our cars, stuff for dinner, and more than $5 the day before one of us got paid, we always celebrated with a $0.99 movie rental at Hastings. I remember not having cable and reading and doing homework together. I remember the nights of dinner being whatever we had. That led to great discoveries like THE potatoes. I remember moving to our first “us” apartment, and being thrilled to have two bedrooms so all of Rob’s guitars had a place while knowing we were going to have to really stick to our budget if we were going to be able to pay $600 a month to live there (bills included).

I remember working and going to school and having days where we didn’t get to see each other a lot, but knowing that finishing school with excellence would make those days worth it. We cared about each other’s dreams. 

In those times where all we had was each other, we began to build appreciation for each other. Sometimes it was learned through messing that up and knowing really fast that’s not who we wanted to be for each other. Out of every misstep and mess up, we each learned something, but the bigger thing we learned was that we really were all in, no matter what. 

With my husband one of the most beautiful things is seeing who we’ve risen up to become. I know without a single doubt that God blesses me through Rob every day. There is this way that under his love I can feel strength and grace being drawn out of me. That is a blessing to me and our children. I am a better person all the time because of Rob. He prays for me. He prays over me. He holds me when I hurt. He laughs with me. He encourages and supports me. He is for me. It is a beautiful thing for me to know I am loved in this way. It instills a confidence in me to know that there’s always someone who will never stop loving me. I am free more and more all the time under his love. 

We’ve walked through so much together. College graduations, first “real” jobs, disappointments, moving apartments, traveling, late night concerts and road trips, Valentine’s Day and anniversary surprises, losing loved ones, finding out we were pregnant each time, buying homes, buying cars, going back to school, difficult pregnancies, babies who never slept, moving across the country, longing for a church home, date nights, new experiences, learning to parent, literally 10 million loads of laundry by now, and looking back I know my life could have been different if I would have stuck to my “plan.” I never would want it to be now. 

Rob, thank you for ten beautiful years. I know that because God was with us in all the good and all the mess, we didn’t just survive the last decade, but we thrived individually and in our marriage. I am thankful for everyday since the one that you pretended you wanted to teach me guitar! I will forever be thankful for being your girl. I will forever be thankful for the man you are. I am thrilled looking back at how far we’ve come, and I’m excited for whatever God has in front of us. Thank you for the beautiful life I have filled with love and fun and joy! I love you deeply. Always. No matter what.