Choosing to Love

Today my husband and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. And while I love this man dearly, it’d be an exaggeration to say that I’m more in love with him today than I was 13 years ago.

Thirteen years ago I didn’t know what love was. True, I’d experienced unconditional love from my parents, but as a 20-something ‘adult’ (and I’ll use that term loosely), I didn’t fully grasp what learning to love another unconditionally would entail. To love by choice. To love and cherish for 4,748 days (and counting). Days filled with an unpredictable storyline of outtakes and plot twists. No, 4,748 days ago I was in love with my husband, vowing to love him while dreaming of our fairytale.

Thirteen years ago I felt like a princess awaiting my prince. And recounting the past 4,748 days, we are living our own version of a fairytale, albeit some days are a tad more Hans Christian Anderson than Walt Disney. Though the days of googly-eyes have waned, I am more committed today to my choice to love him than I was then. Because what this 30-something knows that my 20-something-self didn’t is that love isn’t a feeling. Love is a choice. And 13 years later, I choose to love him even when I don’t feel the butterflies. To love him when the weight of life leaves us more exhausted than exhilerated. To love him because of who he is, my husband. And somedays, if we’re honest, that fact alone has to be enough.

During 13 years, we’ve celebrated both the momentous and the mundane.  We’ve rejoiced in big blessings: becoming parents, earning degrees, buying houses, beginning careers; and in smaller, shared moments that make our days a bit sweeter: the first-fruits from our summer gardens; popsicle kisses from sticky kids; snaggletooth smiles after a Tooth Fairy visit; sunshine streams through living room windows.

Those are the moments when love is more readily felt. But then there are the other days, those of trials and heartache. We’ve lost loved ones. Jobs. Stability–mental and otherwise. We’ve prayed through life-threatening situations and after life-claiming ones. We’ve cried and questioned and stomped and screamed. (Okay, those were probably more my reactions to any given event than his…). Over the past 13 years, we’ve experienced what I’m guessing are just glimpses of the dichotomy of our wedding vows.

For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health.

As with joys and blessings, we’ve learned that tests and trials come in all sizes. They too are both momentous and mundane. The mundane often being more dangerous, as they threaten the decision to love in spite of, and not because of. It’s in the mundane that we’ve been stifled by silence. We’ve had seasons where our souls feel like strangers. Seasons where frustrations compound as irritations mount. Where 50-50 doesn’t cut it, and 100-100 barely does.

But therein lies a beautiful tenet of life: seasons change. And, reflectively, life is more robust when each season is represented within the plot lines of our stories.

Today I’m so thankful for our robust, developing story. Today we are 4,748 days in to what I pray are mere pages in our fairytale. Thinking back on the past 13 years, I know that I’ve found my prince (and at times my court jester…). May we continue to fall in love with one another as a result of choosing to love one another regardless of what each day holds. Here’s to our next chapter.

image