I Do...to a lot of stuff we didn't have a clue about.
I Do...to one another, come what may.
I Do...to an unknown future in the hands of a known God.
We were twenty-four years old. Babies, really. Our lives up to that point had been filled mostly with happiness, love, contentment, and met expectations. We were excited to move on to the next stage, sure to be full of more of the same-- plus each other.
"FOR BETTER!!! (or for worse)" were probably the way we said those vows-- in our brains, anyway. Because who really expects the "for worse" to come? At least when you're young. "For worse" is certain to find you only decades in the future, when you are mature and stable, with a solid emergency fund and loads of life experience under your belts. That's when you expect to triumph over the for worse. At least that's when I expected it.
But for us, the for worse came early. And we weren't old, and we didn't have a loaded emergency fund, and we suddenly felt our youth and our inexperience. And our for worse wasn't quick and quickly resolved, like a best-case-scenario-job-loss, or the death of a pet, or a car accident (although we experienced some of those things, too)...it was lingering torture. It is lingering torture. It has come to define our lives-- Matt and Erika...you know, the ones who can't have kids...well I mean, we hope they will, somehow, but...it's better just not to bring it up is how I imagine people would describe us. Who would have thought this would be our lives? Not us. That's for sure.
But this is the life we said "I Do" to...to a life of uncertainty and broken dreams and cautious hope for the future...a life even still wrapped in love and commitment and joy in one another. Because amidst the suckiness of the season we're stuck in, there's a certain joy that comes in knowing that we can do this. We can make it through the hard stuff. Whatever life throws at us, we will make it together. People who experience nothing but for better, who don't know the years (or even a few solid weeks) of excruciating heartache and pain...maybe they never learn how to band together and rally the troops when the going gets really, really bad. A life where everything goes according to plan (aka the first 25 years of our lives) is awesome-- until things start going awry, and you have no idea how to deal. But us? We can deal. We're dealing. Together.
And if we never, ever experience the "for better" that we so desperately desire...then I know that we will be okay. Maybe we have a completely skewed and Americanized view of what "for better" looks like. Maybe we want our "for better" to look like everyone else's...but maybe God's "better" for us is better than all of that.
Five years isn't a really long time, but it's long enough to be proud of. I'm proud that five years later, I still prefer time with my Mattie to anything else. I'm proud that we regularly turn down invitations to do things and be with other people, still preferring to spend our time with one another. I love that Matt can read my mind and my emotions like a book-- that he anticipates my emotional state and adapts quickly. That he's my protector and my champion and that he never laughs at my jokes, in hopes of keeping me grounded (he must have great self-control, because I'm freakin hilarious). He is the best husband I could have ever hoped for, and if five years ago I could have looked into a crystal ball and seen the future-- a future more deeply scarred with sadness and anger than I would have chosen, but a future marked by love and commitment and a grace to hold onto Hope-- I still would have said yes.
I do...take you to be my lawfully wedded husband...to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, as long as we both shall live.
Therefore, what God has put together, let no man put asunder. (Matt. 19:6, emphasis mine)
During our wedding ceremony, our families and wedding party surrounded us and prayed for us. I love the pictures of that time because it is such a literal picture of what has been going on for the five years since that day. Matt and Erika, crying in the middle of a big mob of people who love and hope for us, while they cry out to God on our behalf for our good. We didn't know then how much we would come to rely on the prayers and hopes of others, but we know now and we are constantly thankful for it. I want to thank each and every one of you who have said even a breath of a prayer for us over these last years, who have clung to faith when we couldn't, who have cried with and for us when it's all we could do. Your support and love means the world to us. I can see you in the pictures above, making our little prayer circle wider and wider until we're busting out the walls of the Day Chapel. Thanks for letting us share our lives and trudging alongside us through too many days of for worse. Thanks for laughing at my jokes (since Matt won't) and loving me even when I'm being bitter and unfair, and for making me believe that even though life isn't going as planned, that it's still actually something rather beautiful.
Happy 5th anniversary to my beloved. Can't wait to experience a little bit of for better with you in Cancun very soon!!
*My previous anniversary posts/novels: One Year, Two Years, Three Years, Four Years. (Warning: they get progressively longer and sappier as the years go by. But at least there are different pictures on each one!) Yesterday I posted pretty wedding pictures and vendor details here.*