To my sweet girls, today is our 14th wedding anniversary. I love your daddy so dearly and since anniversaries always make me feel introspective, I wanted to take a moment to write to you what is in my heart. I don’t feel qualified to offer marriage advice, especially in light of so many mistakes we’ve made, many of which you know and you’ve seen and if you haven’t yet, you will see them. But I do want to write this letter of encouragement to you first and foremost and also for anyone along the way that could be encouraged by these words.
I once had a voice teacher who loved loved loved to have me sing scales. In fact, almost our entire lesson every week was spent on scales. I am a soprano, but every week she would have me go lower and lower on the scales and every week she would say “Your high notes are found in your low notes.” It was irritating at the time, I just wanted to sing, but I knew she was trying to impress upon me something important, that the low notes were actually strengthening my vocal chords so that I could hit powerful high notes with ease.
Those words have come back to me so many times in life and are really at the heart of what I want to say to you. I love marriage. I love the idea of it and I love the reality of it, but anyone who’s been married any length of time knows that the idea and the reality of marriage are far apart most days. I look back at the years your daddy and I have been married and I blush with shame at how much we’ve hurt each other. We’ve been stupid, fought viciously, argued about the ridiculous, acted out of selfish ambition, held on to resentment, idolized unobtainable expectations of each other and quite frankly just been totally self-centered a lot of the time. Truly it hurts my heart to think about it. Daddy didn’t deserve this, I didn’t deserve it, but there it is for all to see, immaturity and sin that wounds the very one you vow to love with your life.
Amazingly though, as ridiculous as it sounds, we’ve also done everything right. Somehow, God has used all our low moments to stretch us, teach us, and strengthen our resolve to do better next time. He has allowed us to struggle together and in that struggling to overcome each obstacle that has threatened to take us down. My encouragement to you; Embrace the struggle together. Don’t give up! Remember and fight for your love. When you argue viciously, repent just as passionately. Forgive freely. Laugh often, I repeat – Laugh as much as you possibly can. It’s a choice. Laugh at yourself, laugh at the absurdity of life, laugh when you feel like crying. Nothing can take that away from you. We’ve been very poor at times but we could still laugh together. And when you hit those low notes, lift up your eyes and heart and ask God for help, He will come. Somehow, miraculously, He uses the fragile, imperfect person you married to teach you to love. True love. Sacrificial love. And somehow, the more you struggle together the sweeter that love grows. He takes all your low notes and turns them, oh so slowly, if you don’t give up, into sweet music and beautiful high notes.
To my girls – I’m so grateful for your daddy. I’m so grateful that every time he could have walked away, he stayed. I’m so grateful that he humbles himself before God to embrace this impossible challenge of staying married to me his whole life. Ha! No easy task I assure you. The impossible challenge to teach and raise 4 busy little girls into beautiful women. The impossible challenge to work his body to exhaustion to take care of us and ease our burden, all because of love. Find a man just like your daddy, don’t settle for less, and then hang on to him – he’s a keeper.