Today (August 7, 2012), Whitney and I celebrate our thirteenth wedding anniversary. I have a few thoughts...
1. Thirteen years is a long time.
Assuming a normal life expectancy, thirteen years is about a sixth of my life. So, in one sense, thirteen years is a long time. When we got engaged, I remember trying to conceptualize what a lifetime commitment looked like. It wasn’t something I could fathom.
Long-term commitments were not something with which I had experience. Of the eight schools I attended, my average tenure was 2-3 years. By the time I was 12, we had lived in eight homes.
And it scared me because I enjoyed the change of scenery. That’s a permissible personality quirk when you’re transferring schools or forwarding your mail, but it’s not a trait that should manifest itself in one’s marriage.
After we got engaged, I looked at other marriages in our church and was overwhelmed as I contemplated the marriages of older saints. Some had been married three or five or even ten years! I don’t know if I had even the ability to contemplate a thirteen-year marriage.
2. Thirteen years is a short time.
Now that I stand on the other side of thirteen years, it’s somewhat cliché but I’ll say it anyway: it’s gone by quickly.
I know, I know: time always goes by quickly. But marriage—a good marriage—goes by quickly in some unique ways. Marriage quick is different than children-aging quick or getting-old quick.
In a good marriage you realize how much more you want to get to know this person you married. And you’ve spent time getting to know them, but in comparison with how much you want to know them and how much more time you need with them, the time you’ve spent with them seems like no time at all.
And then as you think you’ve finally gotten to get a handle on who they are. . .they change! Not always in major, drastic ways but in smaller, subtle, beautiful ways that increase your delight in them.
When we got married, neither Whitney nor I drank coffee. In fact, we were somewhat obnoxious about it. One day, several years into our marriage, she became a social coffee drinker.
I was shocked. I had married a non-coffee drinker. Who was this strange and fascinating creature that drank coffee (on rare occasions and extremely doctored up)? She was different than the person I had said “I do” too.
That experience provided me the first glimpse into a remarkable truth: my wife is not a static creature. Pursuing oneness with her is not like chasing after a stationary target. It’s not like shooting an arrow at a target painted on a wall. It’s like affixing a target on a particle of light hurtling through the universe and trying to pursue it at a speed just slightly faster than the speed of light. You slowly get closer and closer and then the particle passes close to a planet and is bent ever so slightly and alters it’s path.
One of the joys of life with Whitney is the ability to pursue her and pursue her and follow her as she evolves and changes. Thirteen years is too short a time to catch up with my shooting particle of light, but I’m making progress and enjoying a fascinating journey through the universe with her.
3. God is gracious.
What will the next thirteen years look like? I don’t know, nor will I presume on God’s grace continuing to be manifested in the way I’d like. As James warns us:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin (Jas 4:13-17).
The point of all this is to acknowledge God’s graciousness to Whitney and me over the past thirteen years. If God were to call me home tomorrow, I’d have no right to complain—but, all the same, I’d enjoy some more time here with my bride, chasing my beautiful particle of light and joy! Happy Anniversary, Whitney!