The ladies who stood beside me that day were my dearest sisters in the Lord. Their dresses were navy blue with lace trim, and each of them looked so beautiful. While Michael and I lit our unity candle, they sang a song one of them had composed, blessing us with the words of Ruth 1:16. That song has played in my mind so many times over the years.
Afterward, there were friends and family, a cake covered in peach flowers, blue Kool Aid (Michael's favorite), and bird seed being tossed by the handfuls as we ran for the car (if only we had known the irony of that at the time). We exited the scene in Michael's Toyota which his groomsmen had filled with balloons and decorated to the hilt. We drove off into married life with the sounds of tin cans rattling behind us and our loved ones clapping and cheering us on to happiness.
However, the road ahead of us was a bumpy one. You could take me literally on this since we traveled to Arkansas for our honeymoon. Any of you who have ever driven I-40 from Memphis to Little Rock understand what I mean. However, I am really referring to the road of life.
While in college, I started experiencing bouts of chronic pain. A couple times each year I would have severe pain in my lower back and abdomen and shooting pains that would run up and down my legs. This pain grew more and more intense and frequent each year after we married and, at times, completely incapacitated me. My dear Michael could have decided this was more than he had bargained for. But he didn't. Instead, he carried me when I could not walk.
For almost five years, we contended with infertility and miscarriages. The stress of trying to have a baby could have divided us. He could have blamed me as it was my womb that would not hold a baby. He could have distanced himself from me or perhaps looked for another, more fertile mate. But he didn't. He held me close. He shared my pain. He reminded me of God's goodness and sovereignty.
When he lost his job due to budget constraints, he could have sent me out to work. He could have complained about working five jobs to support me and our babies and letting us stay at home together while he faced the world. But he didn't. He recognized his responsibilities as the head of the home and protected my place as its keeper.
When Orville was colicky and never stopped crying, he could have found diversions to keep him away from home and the noise. When Wilbur had severe jaundice and had to spend a week in the NICU, he could have buried himself in his work and left this burden to me. When life got too hard and circumstances too difficult, if he were like many men in America today, he could have forgotten his vows. He could have bailed. He could have left me standing alone and broken hearted. But he didn't. He kept his vows.
Today, as we celebrate fourteen years together, I can't help but reflect on our first day as husband and wife. It was beautiful and sweet. I had all of my favorite people and all of my favorite things around me. It was a perfect day, and I was so happy.
Yet it is the imperfect times since that hold even more meaning. There have been many good times and sharing them with the man I love has only doubled the joy. However, through the times of sorrow, I have come to realize how much my husband truly loves me. The sorrows have always been halved by his loving care and protection. His love has extended beyond day-to-day niceties as he has borne the weight of trying times and difficult circumstances, loving me as Christ has loved the church.
I praise the Lord for our fourteen years as husband and wife. I know that all of the good things I have listed about my husband are the result of God's presence and sanctifying work. It is He who has been with us and kept us and how grateful I am. As I look to the years ahead, I trust that God will continue to be faithful and through him we will keep our vows until death do us part.