This month my husband and I will celebrate our eleventh wedding anniversary. To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to invite some very lovely women and gifted writers to share their love stories here on the blog. Each Friday this month you will get to read a different story of life, love, and ultimately, of Christ.
When I was in college I wrote an essay on “The Man I Hope to Marry”.
And, contrary to dreamy lists I may have come up with in adolescent years, this wasn’t the type of piece that listed physical traits, a job title, or life accomplishments. Rather, it was an essay on the type of love I hoped to share one day. The kind of man I could respect and build a life with. A man who would share the same desire to reflect the example of love Jesus demonstrated toward all he came in contact with.
Little did I know, I would meet the man I’d marry within a year. While I was dating someone else. And then not be interested in more than friendship with him when I was single again.
Can you say, “match made in heaven”?
That first time we met was in the front rows of a late night church service. A mutual friend had saved a spot for a few of us and he and I were seated a few heads apart. He remembers saying something clever and funny at one point that night and catching my gaze as I leaned forward to appreciate his humor. And he liked it.
I don’t remember much of meeting him outside of the fact that we did, in fact, meet. But the friendship that would unfold after I moved home and became single again is something I look back on with a warm heart.
We were an unlikely pair to match, living on opposite ends of the Golden State and communicating mostly via Facebook messenger, text, and later, phone chats. But even across the miles our friendship grew. He was surprisingly honest with his feelings, challenged me when I needed to be, funny and deeply connected to his faith, friends, and identity. He made me feel valued, heard and supported.
Flash forward to our wedding day, nearly three years after we’d met that night, and I remember looking into his eyes with such gratitude. Right before we were engaged I’d been diagnosed with an illness we knew could eventually progress, but he never flinched.
He was in. All in. And neither a label nor a potential life change would change it.
But the depth of commitment and strength it would take for us to both live out our vows? I can’t speak for him, but I surely had no idea what it would take to stand with each other through whatever life threw our way.
And life has most definitely thrown us more than confetti. As it probably has for you, too. The entirety of our five years of marriage have been infused with the challenges of chronic illness. Four of them have been spent with me barely able to function in life. Seeing me outside of the home felt as rare as spotting a unicorn.
ER visits, hospital stays, traumatic ambulance rides, SO MANY NEEDLES, pills galore, high grocery costs, an unplanned pregnancy followed by a miscarriage, Trevin watching me flat-line in the emergency room.
At any turn of this wild ride, it could have been easy for either of us to say we’d had enough. For me, having enough of seeing how my illness affected his life. And for him, having enough of living through the trauma. Of carrying all the added responsibility of being the sole breadwinner and caretaker.
In spite of it all, we have endeavored to make the most of the cards we’ve been dealt. To laugh as often as possible and hold each other when the walls felt like they were caving in. (And not just when the southern california earth shakes were rolling 😉
It hasn’t been easy or comfortable and often far from pretty. But when the tensions would rise and we’d find ourselves in another argument, neither of us wanted it to end there. So through discomfort and long talks we’d do our best to work through it. Reminding each other that we’re worth it, that we love each other, and regardless of what illness through our way we’d always be “in it to win it”.
So in the rawness of struggle as well as in the recent healing we’ve seen begin, we are learning what it means to love and be loved. A love that is patient, kind, and selfless. Accepting instead of critical. With the other, rather than against.
But that kind of love? It isn’t born overnight. It’s cultivated with small steps and with intention. Awareness of self and a sensitivity to others. It takes commitment, laughter, honesty and learning to let go of feelings and grudges that simply don’t serve us.
In this short journey we call life, that’s the love that stands the test of time and all the change that’s inevitable for all of us. It harkens back to the ultimate gift of love that Jesus demonstrated for us all. The kind of love that would lay down it’s own life, it’s own comfort, and it’s own best interest for the sake of loving, protecting or advocating for another.
For at the heart of a love that’s so deep is the message I believe to be the core of the God I love. It is the anthem that proclaims: “us” will always be better than “I”.
written by Kami Lingren
If you’d like to share your love story, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org