Dear Kid: an open letter to myself about marriage.

June 13, 1997

June 13, 1997


Dear Kid,

 I see you standing there at 19 wrapped in white with fear, excitement and anxiety coursing through your veins faster than your heart can beat.  As the music starts your adrenaline is pumping and you wonder if everyone else is right.

 They’ve been telling you it's not the best idea, sometimes out loud and sometimes behind church fans, and all you keep saying is, “I know what I'm doing.”  Sweet girl, you are so busy following the rules you have no idea what you're doing but thankfully God does.  

He knows your stubborn heart well and has placed the right person in your life at the right time to keep you from swerving off course.  That kid at the altar waiting on you is going to be your best friend.  He's going to believe in every dream you ever have so choose those dreams carefully.  Don't waste your time, and his, on things that don’t really matter.  

 And things don't matter.

 Bridle your tongue sooner rather than later.  He listens to everything you say to him so make your words count.  Build him up; don't rip him apart when he doesn't meet your expectations.  Don’t say things you do not really mean because you are angry, tired, and afraid.  It’s going to take you many years to learn that no one person can meet the greatest expectations of your heart, only God can do that.  It’s terribly unfair to expect that man to love you in ways he cannot because you have not yet discovered how God’s love is going to fill you up to overflowing.

 And while I am talking about expectations let’s just cut through that crap right now.

 Everyone has them for you.  And you have lots of unrealistic ones both for yourself and that man.  Stop it now.  You are human.  He is human.  Building a life together is hard work.  It’s some of the hardest work you will do while you draw breath.  So start breathing easier now by cutting each other some slack.   

 And boundaries, I should talk about boundaries.

 The sooner you learn that nobody is living your life but you the sooner you will set boundaries to guard the most precious parts of it.  And this marriage is going to be Holy ground so dig those post holes deep, build your family fence and guard it with all you’ve got.  Good fences make good neighbors, good friends, and good family.  You are going to learn to love people in a better way when you stop letting them define your life, your faith, and your family.

 Your fairy tale isn’t going to look like you thought it would.  God is going to take you places you never imagined in ways that will shatter your heart, empty your soul and defy words.  There will be tremendous joy and heartrending sorrow, sometimes they will occur in the same moment.  Your losses will be great, but this best friend you are marrying is never going to let go of your hand.  Don’t let go of his either.  Hold fast when it is easy and faster when it seems impossible.  It will seem impossible, it truly will.  There will be days you think you cannot take one more step with him.  Take it anyway; God does his best work with impossible.

Learn who you are.  Right now you think you know exactly who you are, but you don’t.  You’re clueless and your priorities are skewed in dangerous directions.  So hear me now when I say this, you are his wife but that is not all you are.  Before everything else you are a daughter of the King.  Before your duties, your education, your work, your children, and the definition the world has attached to your name, you are His heir.  When it gets awfully dark remember that, cling to that until His light breaks through.  And it always breaks through.

 Learn to love this friend you are marrying more than you love yourself.  This guy of yours has already got that one figured out.  He is good at it; in fact, he’s a boss when it comes to loving you and putting your family first.  It would do you good to take note of him in action.  

 Learn to respect and honor his journey with God.  He is going to do things differently than others, but that does not make his way wrong.  This gentle man who does not raise his voice will never loudly proclaim Jesus to every passerby he meets instead, he will live out his faith before your very eyes.  Day in and day out you will have the front row seat to watching a man whose daily life of humility and love are his offering to his Savior.  And what a gift you are going to behold as he displays the heart of who Jesus is to His people.

 You’re going to fall in love with him over and over as you watch him work to provide, become a dad, and grow into his own skin.  And when you fall more in love with someone else, when your life is derailed because the Savior finally captures first place in your heart and life, he’s just going to smile and tell you he knew all along that was going to happen.  It was just a matter of time.

 This man is then going to step to your side and run that journey with you too.  He’s going to give you space and freedom to let God do what he does best, make you more like Christ.  He’s not going to be afraid when you start becoming a woman of faith.  He’s going to believe you when you tell him God is telling you to change the life that you’ve been building together.  He will take the corner of that life and willingly help God turn it inside out.  He will make sacrifices and take criticism on your behalf because of the work you are doing and he will not flinch.   He will listen to everything God reveals to you and tell you to start writing. 

He will never stop saying that.

 And when God breaks your heart for His people his heart will be broken too.  Together you will start moving the pieces of your lives into the order God designs.  Pretty soon the order will look like Africa and a boy named Isaiah.  He will throw the door to your home and his heart wide open.

 And he will not look back on his former life.

 I cannot tell you how long this marriage will last before it ends.  I cannot tell you the ending of your story because I am right in the middle of living it for you.  But I can tell you that you will not become the person you were created to be if you don’t take this chance.  Drown out your doubts and criticizers with songs, and prayers, and tears.

Walk down the aisle kid, just walk, and do not look back.