Last night we took our family for a picnic dinner and a walk by the beach. We let the kids run ahead of us in a sort of relay race, tricking them into staying close. The sun had already set and the breeze was such a relief after the brutal summer we’ve had. I looked to you and said, “I love the life we built together,” and you smiled and said, “I do, too.”
On the drive home, we talked about how nights like this one are the moments memories are built on. Quiet and seemingly insignificant moments you look back on one day realizing they were the good stuff.
You agreed with me, and in my prayers later that night, I thanked God for a spouse who sees me.
Today marks nine years since we exchanged our vows in my childhood church’s sanctuary. A couple of years and a series of renovations later and now that same little sanctuary of our church is unrecognizable. The place we stood when we pledged ourselves to life with each other doesn’t even exist anymore, in a sense.
I can remember our day like it was yesterday. I can still feel the nerves that followed me to our reception dinner so I couldn’t eat a bite of the food we carefully selected to serve our guests. Even though memory is a tricky thing and the noise of life tends to drown out the little details, I still remember.
I remember the colors, the decorations, the flowers, the cake, the fellowship with our friends and loved ones. I remember how my momma cried and the beautiful things my daddy said as he gave me away. Many people said it was the most beautiful wedding they had been to, I’ll never forget that.
But all of that could fade away and fall victim to time’s disregard for sentiment as long as I could just remember the look on your face when you saw me walking toward you on that day.
And in time, I figured out it wasn’t just because of the dress and veil or that I curled my hair instead of throwing it up in a bun like usual.
It was how you made me feel like I was the only girl in the room every day after that. It was how you knew me that day forward at my highest and at my lowest and still loved all of me.
You saw me walking toward you on that day as the woman you accepted as a whole—body, mind, and spirit. Despite her many self-discovered flaws.
I look at our wedding pictures, and it’s impossible not to reflect on all that has changed since then. I look at our polished photos of blushing bride and groom and I think to myself, we were just doe-eyed babies without a clue.
Nine years have passed since that day and baby, we’ve been through it.
A couple of years later we decided to try to make a family, and instead, we found ourselves in what felt like an inescapable dark cloud called infertility. I knew you saw me in my pain, unique from your own and yet the same.
Years later we finally got our answers, and now you’re helping me heal my body from an illness I never knew I was fighting. You saw me in my anxious ways and jumped into action as my helpmate.
It wasn’t long before I figured out that there wasn’t anywhere you wouldn’t go with me. There wasn’t any part of me too scary or too hard to love. I find such peace in knowing that.
The way you love me has given me a glimpse of how my Heavenly Father sees me.
And now that we’ve got a few years of parenting under our belts, you see me when the days are long and life gets hard. When I start to feel like I am losing myself in motherhood, you selflessly offer me the chance to see that the girl you fell in love with is never that far off.
As we received the news that my momma was passing from this life, your eyes met mine with tears as you recognized in me the familiar pain of losing a parent. You never lost sight of me in my grief, and you walked with me through it.
So if I had to travel back in time and deliver a message from the future to my younger self on her wedding day, I’d imagine she’d be paralyzed in fear to learn of some of the storms she’d have to weather.
But I’d tell her not to miss this important detail—she’s living out the most important day of her life.
I’d tell her to focus on the man in front of her and the way he’s looking at her right now. I’d tell her that even though life can change in a heartbeat and the best-laid plans will slip through her fingers like the wind, she’s looking at the one thing that’s unchanging, and a God-given love that will get her through it all.
I’d tell her that together you are unstoppable.
I’d stop her in her tracks and tell her to soak up how she feels right now in his gaze.
I’d tell her to remember how it feels to be seen that way. And to get used to it.
Originally published on the author’s blog