When we first met, I was timid. You were animated. I was insecure. You were confident.

I saw the gray, which brought uncertainty. You viewed everything clear-cut in black and white, which allowed you to be unwaveringly sure of us. Right from the start.

If I were to ask you, you could probably still give me the exact date and time. All I remember is it was a Sunday evening, late summer, at the annual church picnic. And it was a perfect evening for a meet-cute.

It was warm outside so I wore a sundress with flip-flops. You told me weeks later that you had recognized me from that morning’s service where I wore that same dress. You said you immediately thought I was beautiful. The unassuming kind.

The ongoing joke is that you strategically chose to sit next to my parents at that picnic, in hopes to meet me. Whatever the story, I’m glad we met that summer evening because God knew I needed someone like you.

You were all in, right from the start, and I enjoyed being pursued by you. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have to wonder if I should make a move. You made all the moves and then some. Even when I made it rather challenging for you.

Like that evening at church, just a few weeks after we met, when you asked if I’d like to go out sometime and I said “that’d be fun” then awkwardly left you hanging as I said my goodbyes, got in my car, and drove away. You had to track me down a couple of days later before church service to get my number.

You were always a good sport when it came to the many nuances of my nerves. I’ll forever be grateful that you powered through my insecurities to win my heart. Because deep down I knew I needed someone like you.

The kind of man who, after being my date at a formal dance for work, would write a love poem about the way I looked that evening in my long, silky, emerald green dress.

The kind of man who, after I expressed interest in shooting hoops with him, would surprise me after a Friday at work by leaving a basketball at my apartment door with a note that read Practice—2 p.m. You’re going to need this tomorrow.

The kind of man who, after watching one of my favorite romantic comedies with me, would write a list of affirmations to express his growing love and appreciation for me.

The kind of man who, during one of the worst winters our midwestern state had ever seen, would show up to my apartment early in the mornings just to clear the snow and ice from my car.

The kind of man who, a year from when we first met, would surprise me with flowers and a note that read: A year ago on this date, God sent me an angel at Leawood Park and forever changed my life.

I always knew I’d need someone like you.

The ironic thing is I had been praying for you for years, only I didn’t recognize you when you finally came along. It took me much longer than you to feel the assurance that we were always meant to be. And that had nothing to do with you, and everything to do with me and my low self-esteem.

I even knew I would be tentative at first, so I prayed for a safeguard: a man who wouldn’t give up on me, no matter what. And you never did. You were always so sure of us, pursuing me through my doubt and insecurities, reminding me of my worth through your selfless love and pure intentions.

I used to envy the “love at first sight” stories. But now I know that God never created me to love like that. He always had planned for me a young man who would feel enough of that for the both of us.

And I assume He also knew that when my heart finally caught up to my head that the love I’d feel for you would far surpass any fleeting feelings of first sight desire.

Because the truth is as much as I may want those ongoing sparks of young love, that kind of selfish and superficial love isn’t what makes our marriage work. Often it’s in the daily sacrifices that I see your love best displayed:

The hard work and dedication to build upon your career so you can better provide for your growing family.

The time you pour into managing our finances and planning for our future.

The effort you make to stay in-touch by sending quick texts or scheduling a call or FaceTime during your long work trips.

The time you spend playing with our son, changing diapers, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and reading bedtime stories.

The support and encouragement you’ve provided me through the years by listening with your heart and offering guidance in your gentle manner.

The nightly prayers you pray for your family as you wearily kneel beside the bed after a long, hard day at work.

I’ve always known I’d need someone like you.

The kind of man who would come alongside me, tenderly take my hand, and lovingly lead me toward our future together.

The kind of man who challenges me to step outside my comfort zone to pursue the life God had planned for me all along.

The kind of man who accepts me for who I am, yet pushes me to be more than I ever dreamt possible.

So when I say I love you because you first loved me, please know that doesn’t mean I love you any less. It just means, you have always loved me so completely, just as God intended a man to love his wife.

It means my love for you only continues to grow stronger and deeper with each passing year. For it’s in and through you that my love finds its home.

So thank you, sweet husband of mine, for creating a safe place for my love to grow and flourish. Thank you for creating this beautiful place for my love to call home.

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Alaina V. Fletcher

Alaina is a Kansas girl currently living in Ohio with her handsome hubby, toddler son, and senior cat. Her childhood love for reading and writing led her to earning a college degree in English. She’s a fair-weather runner and former dancer reliving her glory days in weekly Zumba class. She’s a writer, photography-lover, and stay-at-home mom to an amazing little boy.
 
Alaina writes about relationships, motherhood, depression & anxiety, introversion, discovering your giftings and passions, and living a life of purpose and love. She’s been published by Her View From Home and TODAY Parenting Team. She’s the creator and writer of The Living Loved Movement at thelivinglovedmovement.com where she inspires others to live their lives through the lens of love. You can follow the movement on Facebook and Instagram.