In just a few days it’ll be the two-year anniversary of this day:
It was one of the best days of my life when my husband got down on a knee in the middle of an Idaho winter and chose me to be his wife. And tonight, nearly two years later, I’ve run into some old pictures and some crumpled up notes–and all the while I hear my husband in the kitchen banging around pots and pans as he attempts to clean a messy kitchen– still here by my side two years later. Phew. We made it here *I know, not the longest marriage in the world, but it’s something*. Through some of the hardest challenges–the most uncomfortable months of combining belongings, sharing covers, mixing finances, spiraling through two major deaths together, crying over stupid things and learning our way through hours of silent treatments…We made it here…we’re making it through the next “part” of it. But how?
The how of it all has been on my mind for a good week now. I couldn’t figure it out. Not until I found this tonight.
And that’s when I realized the secret. My husband wasn’t my first choice. And that’s how we make it.
I wrote this in the back of my old set of scriptures years ago. It was long before I met Matt in the middle of a crowded Mexican restaurant in Idaho. Long before I dated all the wrong guys and cried over break-ups that wouldn’t matter. Long before I realized I WASN’T going to grow anymore, contrary to my hopes, *so 5 foot 2 would have to do*–but l did have plenty of growing up to do on the inside. Long before I changed course half a million times and made a hundred bad decisions that taught me the best lessons. All I knew all along was I chose God first. And with that choice, no matter what, I was at least getting there. I was making it. I was becoming.
On that winter day two years ago when Matt held out a ring I decided it would work simply because I didn’t put him first. Oh and here’s another shocker–I wasn’t first to him either. Heavenly Father always took the driver’s seat.
It seems like an unromantic notion, really, when I first say it. It’s not the usual lovey-dovey blogging style…or any kind of style really. But whether you’re single, dating, engaged–newly married or have been married for fifty years, it applies to you too.
If God isn’t your first choice, all other choices will disappoint.
If I didn’t know the loyalty of a kind Father in Heaven, I wouldn’t know how to spot out that great quality in Matt–or even more importantly, how to expect it for myself. If I didn’t feel beautiful simply because the Lord expresses how beautiful I am throughout the scriptures, I might not believe it when Matt said it for the first time. If I didn’t know how it feels to try and faithfully follow the commandments of God, even when it meant losing friends or staying home alone on a friday night, I wouldn’t ever know what it takes to faithfully stand by a husband, even when it’s easier to walk away.
Loving God teaches every other kind of love, simply because it’s the strongest relationship you’ll ever have.
Years ago, on an old couch in the center of an apartment living room, my bishop at the time had come over to visit me when I had gone through a broken engagement. As expected, I was feeling sad. But worse than that, I was feeling worthless. I thought I’d lost everything. I had forgotten for a moment what I had learned quite a while before that.
“What people tend to forget,” my bishop said quietly that day, “is that we aren’t supposed to wait for the right person. We’re supposed to become the right person. Once you put God first, everything else will get straightened out.”
And he was right. He’s still right, even now, years later, in this little apartment in Washington, hundreds of miles away from where I learned to love God before anything else. Pictures scattered about my crossed legs, remind me once again of that choice.
It’s not an easy choice, either, for anyone. It’s easier for a teenager to give her heart, soul–even her body–to a boy who will soon fade into a memory and leave her with nothing. It’s easier to stay with a man who abuses and cheats and lies simply because he’s the only “love” you’ve ever known. It’s easier to search for someone to fill the void rather than realize the only void we’re ever born with is the void that exists before coming to know the Creator again. It’s easy to make our first choice something other than God, and then watch everything crumble on a foundation made of sand. I’ve quickly learned over the weeks and months (and now years) that if Matt were my first choice–we couldn’t possibly make it. I realize it more and more as I watch relationships around me struggle and young girls get pregnant and left behind and women act as contestants on a reality show boasting a single bachelor–teaching women that the key to finding yourself is finding the love of a man.
But it’s not. And it breaks my heart that the lie is so rampant. It hurts me that I once believed it too.
Choosing God first is a decision that has saved my marriage–and my life.
It gives me an escape. I can get on my knees when a fight erupts to ask for help on an issue. I can have the trust to forgive Matt or myself of anything that happens along the way in the marriage simply because God forgave me first, long ago when he sent the Savior. I can gain the capacity to love–even when my husband is hunched over a toilet, sick as a dog, or gripping the steering wheel in less-than-attractive road rage moments–all because God loved me unconditionally from the start. And I can have more gratitude for all the little things he does every day to make me feel special–doing the dishes, making me laugh after a hard day, even when he doesn’t feel like laughing–things that are easy to overlook.
But THAT is how marriage works, I’m coming to learn. Even with my little experience and my young, *sometimes naive* rationale–I’ve come to learn at least that these first couple of years.
And I’m coming to realize how fantastically romantic it actually is–despite what the world fakes–to say that my husband wasn’t my first choice. That I chose to love God long before I knew Matt’s name.
And because of that one decision…choosing to love my husband every day is an easy choice.