Two years ago today, I woke up in a house filled with bridesmaids. Our morning was spent securing Starbucks and preparing for the evening ahead. Between laughter and deep inhales, brushes danced across my face, and fingers guided my hair into loose curls. Soon enough, I slipped into an ivory, lace dress with a train that trailed softly behind me and adorned myself with my soon-to-be-husband’s grandmother’s pearls.
With what seemed to be a flick of the wrist, it was time. In the warmth of the Texas spring air, the music shifted and all stood still. Floating down the aisle with an unceasing smile and a sparkling stare, I locked eyes with my groom. My groom with a gaze that pierced like the sun as he beheld his bride. As I was given to him, our hands grasped one another’s tightly in eager anticipation.
Amidst creation, amidst our dearest friends and family, amidst our Lord, we committed forever to one another. We exchanged rings and vows, said our “I do’s,” partook in communion as we remembered who brings us together, and finally, sealed the deal as my man kissed his bride.
He whisked me into his arms, we rang the wedding bells, and kissed in the bell tower. With our boots on and country music up, he whirled me around the dance floor. We cried at sweet words from meaningful toasts, and he shoved cake in my face. We danced the night away. He removed my garter and I tossed my bouquet. And finally, we ran beneath a canopy of sparklers with cheers and whoops showering through.
Two years ago today, I entered into covenant with my best friend, the love of my life, and the man that I wanted to do forever with. Forever means the joyful, marvelous moments, and the challenging, tough times. Forever means the mournful, somber seasons, and forever means the mundane, routine responsibilities. I knew this to be true on our wedding day, yet had no idea what was to come. In two short years, we well know these things to be true.
Over the past two years we’ve experienced an abundance of joy and blessings, as well as much difficulty and turmoil. Throughout this time, we moved into a into a townhouse and learned how to live together for the first time–for better or worse. We were given a car by some of the most kind, gracious, Christ-reflecting people we know. Dan was hired on as a student pastor, and I received a couple of promotions. We also walked alongside and mourned with friends as marriages ended and families became broken. We have grieved with and prayed for friends who have lost their children or were told their children had a severe illness. We learned that my dad was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer and loved him from afar as he underwent chemotherapy. We were present as Dan’s grandfather unexpectedly passed away in the hospital. We’ve hurt one another with our words or selfish actions. We’ve learned to confess our wrongs and forgive deeply. We’ve celebrated as friends have welcomed children into their families through both childbirth and adoption. We’ve rejoiced as students have come to know the love of God, and we have pastored through grievous situations. We’ve delighted in the beginning of many marriages, one of which Dan had the honor of officiating. We have traveled–to St. Thomas, Charleston, and Hawaii, embarking on a bumpy road of learning how to adventure together. We have played countless games together and have laughed endlessly. And we’ve done all the necessary things–built a budget together, brought the car into the shop too many times to count, made a myriad of doctors visits, and have tried to figure out how to keep house together.
These things just scratch the surface of what the past two years has brought us–it’s been quite the journey so far. Funny how it seems like a lifetime, yet when a baby turns two, he hardly knows how to talk. Though, it is helpful to remember that in those two years, incomprehensible amounts of development, growth, and learning take place.
If there is anything that I have learned in the past two years, it is how I am far more broken than I could ever have imagined, but far more loved than I could ever have hoped. Ephesians 5 says “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” I could never have fathomed how fully I would experience this type of love. The type of abiding, sacrificial love that goes deeper than I knew possible. The type of love that helps me begin to better comprehend the depth of the love the Father has for us.
Prior to marriage, I had very little understanding of the sacrifice and grace required to love someone so wholly. It didn’t take long for me to recognize my habitual patterns of self-serving and partiality for my own comfort above loving another. I was appalled at how naturally it came for me to put myself before this person I loved with all my heart. While we both desire to love one another without fail, we both have fallen short. In that, however, we are not left with sorrow, fear, and defeat. We are left with hope and can rejoice in love.
“We love because He first loved us.”
1 John 4:19
While our love for one another is full, it is incomplete without the love, sacrifice, and resurrection of a Savior. On the inside of my wedding band, Dan placed a ruby signifying the blood of Christ. The blood that was spilt on our behalf to reconcile us with God and with one another–not requiring anything from us. In his sacrifice, we are no longer enslaved to our empty desires. We have freedom to follow after Jesus in the good news and love of the gospel. In this life we will never be without brokenness and will never be without sin. But because of a risen Savior, who defeated death, we have hope. What an honor it is that God would bring us together as one, entrusting us with this marriage intended to reflect the love and sacrifice of Christ for the Church.
Today, words cannot adequately express my gratitude for the man I get to call my husband. Through his leadership, laughter, love, humility, and unceasing sacrifice, I am compelled to better love him, others and my God. No one ever said marriage would be easy. Unlike our wedding, it isn’t filled with lace, endless dancing, and cake. But I can say without hesitation that I want to be a part of this marriage even more today than two years ago today.
All photography by Louie Abellera.