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What I've Learned in 20 Years of Marriage

Of course, I wasn’t ready for all those things. In a very real sense, “I” didn’t even exist. The life that I have now is defined by our lives together. That’s why the Scriptures speak of marriage as a “one flesh” union, of a head and a body together. These aren’t two separate lives, bringing their agendas together. This is two people joining together for one life, life together. One can prepare oneself to be a husband or to be a wife. But one can never be really “ready.”

As I look back, I can see the intense joy in our lives that would never have made it into our daydreams about the future. We loved those nights eating only cheese sandwiches because that’s all we could afford. We loved doing youth ministry together, and figuring out what to do when a teenager showed up on a mission trip with marijuana in tow. We loved sitting up together while I wrote a dissertation on kingdom ethics, taking breaks to watch Frasier reruns together. We loved holding each other’s hands as we prayed for the money we needed to adopt (we weren’t ready for that either).

And, even now, when I am blasted by some Planned Parenthood abortion activist or some neo-Confederate white supremacist, I love sitting down with her to remember that it doesn’t matter to me what anyone thinks of me or my ministry, as long as I please the King I pledged my life to in the baptistery of that little church and the girl I pledged my life to at the altar.

Truth is, there’s no way we could have made that budget work. And there’s no way we could have grown up enough to be “ready” for what providence had for us. We needed each other. We needed to grow up, together, and to know that our love for each other doesn’t consist in our having it all together. It didn’t start that way, and we still had us.

When I look back at those wedding pictures from 20 years ago, I see faces of people, some of whom are now gone. I see my grandmother’s face there, and I think how right she was. I see a boy and a girl in love, though not as much in love as now, after 20 years of, as my friend Andrew Peterson puts it, “dancing through the minefields” together.

Were we ready? No. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.