One year ago, just days before Lanie's birth, I felt depleted. Faced with end-of-the-year business decisions, a mile-long list of sewing orders to ship out, and the discomforts of my final weeks of pregnancy, I was weary. I looked at the stack of bills sitting on one side of the desk and the to-do list on the other and felt consumed.
While staring blankly at the computer screen, a familiar song came through Pandora: I Believe in You and Me by Whitney Houston. If you've read our engagement story, you might remember that this was the song Shawn chose to play when we got engaged on the ice at Rockefeller Center.
Seven years ago, as soon as I'd heard the first piano line of that song on the ice, I had known that very soon, Shawn would drop to one knee and ask me to be his wife. It was the moment I'd been dreaming about for months, and when it happened, tears had filled my eyes. In that moment, I had felt so cherished, so desired, so confidently loved. Even though I was normally very shaky on ice skates, I hadn't faltered once as we skated to the song because I felt so exquisitely free.
Years later, I heard that song come through the computer speakers and tears had again filled my eyes. This time, though, I felt so distant from that girl. Had that really been me? This time, I carried an enormous belly, dark circles under my eyes, and so many questions about what the next few months would hold. Two kids? Hospital bills? Taking maternity leave from the business?
As the song played, Shawn happened to be nearby and reached out to hug me as my tears began to fall. Mascara ran down my face as he held me, reading between the lines of what I was feeling. This time, though, I wanted to feel invisible. I didn't want him to see the baggage I carried - as if he hadn't already known - or the temptation toward hopelessness in my eyes. I wanted him to see the girl he fell in love with.
When I felt brave enough to look into his eyes, though, I knew exactly who he saw: the girl he loved 7 years ago and loved even deeper today, baggage and all. I felt raw, unmasked, but somehow more accepted than ever. I felt a deep sense that in being loved by him, my burdens had somehow been lifted.
Tim Keller, a pastor we really respect, often says that if your marriage is strong, you move out into the world in strength, no matter what else is going on in your life. If your marriage is weak, you move out into the world in weakness, no matter what else is going right in your life. From one side of that experience, I can say that is so true.
Ultimately, though, this isn't a post about how wonderful my husband is. He's amazing, no doubt, but he's still flawed. He sees my weaknesses and doesn't always love me perfectly in spite of them. And trust me: I am no perfect wife. Ultimately, we believe marriage is an earthly reflection of Jesus' great love relationship with us, His bride, and that we will one day be united to Him. We believe that one day, Shawn and I will stand together in heaven in complete wholeness and perfection before God and will look at each other and say, "I always knew you could be this wonderful." We will only have glimpses of that wholeness here on earth. But there, we will stand in awe before our Savior and be made complete: no jealousy, no anger, no lust, no sadness, no pride. Only healed relationships and worship.
Now, though. How does this change our lives now? Far too often, I carry the stress of being a wife and mother and nurse and so on all on my own. I think I can bear the weight of it. I even believe I can hide my flaws from my husband, the world, and the Lord. What I fail to believe in those moments is that God accepts me completely because, when He looks at me, He sees the perfect righteousness of His Son.
We talk about the "gospel" in our house quite a bit. It's probably our favorite word. But what is it? My favorite way to define the gospel is this:
We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. - Tim Keller
These days, it's easier for me to believe that first part. I have a pretty good grasp on my flaws, and I have an easy time hanging onto them, rehearsing them to myself, beating myself down. But that second part changes everything. As much as I ever hoped or dared to be loved, Christ loves me more. He loves me perfectly.
It's our 7th anniversary today, and I am grateful for a husband who would love nothing more than to point me - and everyone who crosses his path - to Christ. I pray that our marriage today and in 7 years and 57 years from now is a reflection of His lavish love.
So to my Shawn William, who loves me deeply and loves Jesus even more, Happy Anniversary. I will never get over the gift of being yours.