November 24, 1990
I have now spent as many years of my life married as I did unmarried. I really can't believe it. Yesterday Brian and I took a walk at Greenwood Park. We used to push a stroller, now we chase our dog around the dead logs and leaves. We sat at a picnic table looking out over a lake full of squawking geese draining out the last bits of autumn in the Northeast. Brian talked about work, I reached up and brushed back some of the grey hair that seemed to arrive just this month.
It's all grace -- crazy, ridiculous, unearned grace.
We're going away to the City again next week to celebrate. In the meantime I put together a digital anniversary card that I just can't help but post here, hoping you also might get a kick out of this crazy grace. I re-read the letter I wrote to him five years ago at our fourteenth anniversary.
This album is full of almost every letter, note or scribble we ever gave each other during our junior high and high school years.
Of course during those years, I read and re-read each one until the paper was well-worn (I'm sure you did the same, right?!?) And then we got married and moved your Adidas shoebox of love letters and my red, plastic Gap shopping bag of love letters in together. Somehow over the years they got moved to a corner in the basement and no one remembered they existed. A few times over the last fourteen years I stumbled over them while putting away Christmas decorations or looking for garage sale items. A few times I took them out and re-read each one.
I have to be honest with you. Those few times I looked at the pages and pages of our dating history I did not feel a "warm fuzzy" feeling at all. Instead I thought and felt things like:
We were so young and stupid! How could we possibly know whether we loved each other or not?!?
Why wasn't anyone paying attention to how insecure we were? This was spelling disaster from the beginning!
I am so embarrassed by how much I gushed over Brian all the time. I must have driven him crazy!
And then, I believed, the ultimate craziness was that our dating years ended while we were so young. Who in the world encouraged a 19 and 20-year-old with no education, no home and no money to gt married?!? What was anyone thinking?? How much more foolish could we be?
So the letters and notes have been sitting silently in their respective storage places -- until a couple of weeks ago [when I realized through a story I heard of another marriage] the great amount of self-protection [I] still held onto...in [our] marriage....Even in all the tough stuff we have worked through over the last couple of years and all of the forgiveness and love and respect and trust God has given us for each other, I knew that many places of my heart were still closed off from you.
While thinking about this late that night, I was reminded of our letters in the basement. Maybe if I looked at just a few of them, I could uncover those parts of my heart again. One letter ran into another and then another -- late hours into the night as I unfolded each one and read them again. This time, though, God granted me new eyes (or maybe old ones!) In my healed perspective, I was able to see through the insecurity and flaws of our youth and see our hearts. This time I thought and felt things like:
Thank you, God, for giving us such a great friendship during those painful teen years.
Thank you, God, for protecting us. Even in our sins and mistakes, You preserved our desire to please You.
Thank you, God, for the many, many prayers our struggling -- and flawed -- parents prayed for us. Thank you for preserving their desire to raise us in a way that honors You.
I could see -- for the first time in many years -- the beauty of our hearts for each other. There was still no qustion that we were young, immature, self-righteous, manipulative and even disobedient much of the time. But I could clearly see how God connected those dots with grace and truth and protection.
I could see again what an amazing person you were and wasn't I smart to fall in love with you ! Your children and grandchildren will be blessed for generations by the work ethic and tenacity you demonstrated from your youth. You also took great, scary risks in opening your heart to me during some very painful days in your family's life. I am so thankful!
I can even look at myself and see the heart of worship God instilled in my from my childhood. I could also look clearly -- without shame -- at the great capacity for love that He gifted to me....
I love you, Brian Murphy. When I look at this book, I realize that in some ways, God never even gave me much of a choice. I first fell in love with your picture in the yearbook -- the goofy one from Spirit Week when you were in 7th grade and I was in 6th...and as hard as I've tried at times, I've never been able to get away from that commitement since! Your love and friendship has added great, eternal value to my life and, of course, A WHOLE LOT OF CRAZY FUN, too!
I can't imagine my life without you, and am grateful beyond words, that I don't have to.
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