Our story was an unusual one. Good friends for two years, dated for a month, engaged for 5 months, and then 9 months after we were married, we were off to Tanzania. If you didn't read the long version I wrote on our 10th Anniversary, I invite you to read it today.
Since then, we've spent 11 out of 15 years in Tanzania. We've lived in 8 different houses and traveled across the Atlantic Ocean way too many times to count. We've had one miscarriage and adopted four children and 6 dogs (the children are all still with us; all the dogs are not.) We've worked together in five different ministries.
I thought about whether I had something profound to say about marriage after 15 years. But I don't think I do, because our marriage is still a teenager. And what do teenagers really understand about life?
I know if I were to talk to my 23-year-old self in October of 2000, I would give her some advice. Forgive a lot more quickly. Find your wholeness in God, not in Gil. Look for, and focus on, the strengths that go along with your husband's weaknesses. And my mantra for wives? Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. (Sing with me now!) There's very little in a marriage that's worth griping or fighting over.
But the truth is? I knew those things 15 years ago, in my head at least. We had great mentors. I read all the great books. I just had to learn them for myself. And perhaps the hardest lesson of all? That I was not, or never would be, the perfect wife I thought I was. We're smiling in all the pictures below. Of course, you don't take selfies when you are not speaking to each other, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.
"Marriage by its very nature has the 'power of truth'--the power to show you the truth about who you are. People are appalled when they get sharp, far-reaching criticisms from their spouses. They immediately begin to think they married the wrong person. But you must realize that it isn't ultimately your spouse who is exposing the sinfulness of your heart--it is marriage itself. Marriage does not so much bring you into confrontation with your spouse as confront you with yourself." (Tim Keller)
But what I most wished I had known 15 years ago? Persevere. It might get harder before it gets better. But it does get better. The last five years have been the best of all.
I have no regrets. Gil is still my very best friend, and he leads me so well. He gives me wise advice; he makes me laugh; he respects my thinking; he pushes me to do more, to be more, to love Jesus more. He is the very best Daddy a kid could ask for. There is nothing I have done to deserve this gift.
"To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us." (Tim Keller)
|2000, during our (very) brief period of dating|
|October 7, 2000|
|honeymoon in Oahu|
|our first time in Zanzibar, 2001|
|London, on our way home from Tanzania, 2003|
|2005: Gil gets some sort of delight out of forcing me onto roller coasters and then taking pictures of me. Enough said.|
|Seminary graduation, 2005|
|Our fifth anniversary in Mikumi Game Reserve, 2005|
|When the dogs were our babies, Tanzania 2006|
|Our first Christmas with Grace, Tanzania 2006|
|Youth Group Heroes Night, 2009|
|In Zanzibar for our 10th Anniversary, 2010|
|Bringing Lily home, 2011|
|San Francisco, 2014|
|Monterey Bay, California, 2014|