A Letter to My Bridal Self

8:36 AMHeather

Today, it's been twenty years since I walked that aisle into the covenant of marriage.  With age, comes wisdom.  So this is a letter to my young bridal self.  May I remember the things that God has graciously taught me throughout all the glorious days of being married to my best friend--and for all the decades to come.

Dear Young Bride,

Oh, today is so exciting.  At long last.  You have waited not so patiently during this four plus year courtship.  I wish I could make you understand that the wait was worth it.  That you will never regret--not for one second--the choice Chris made to be sure y'all waited not just for the right person but for the right timing.  The years of dating and the year of engagement were refining times...training times.  If only you could have leaned into it a little bit more rather than resist it in your eagerness to reach marital bliss. Alas, you will still reap the benefits, even if you didn't surrender to the wait as fully as you could have.

As you walk down the aisle on the arm of your grandfather, I wish I could tell you to treasure him more.  To treasure all the loved ones there more.  You naturally felt grief and sadness about those who were not there that day...your dad being first on the list. But those grandparents and even some friends...they won't be with you always. So take time when you can to show love and respect and due honor to those God has placed in your life. Even when it might be inconvenient.  Or unpleasant.  People are always more important than tasks or money or anything else.  People matter.

When you see that look on your groom's face--how he's fighting back tears because he's so overcome with love and affection for you, I want you to remember two things.  First of all, do all you can every day to remember how treasured you are to him.  Don't lose sight of the incredible honor it is that a man of such character will continue to look at you like that.  In all the years to come.  Never take that for granted.  And second of all, that is but a tiny preview of how your Beloved Savior sees you.  He is all for you.  He is all good and loving and eager for you to join him, every day, every moment.  This life is about as quick as the walk down the aisle. That you might live everyday aware of the incredible feeling of being eternally joined with your Lord.  Being loved and treasured by Him, as he invites you to come with all that you have and all that you are.  Knowing that one day and then forevermore, he will welcome you as lovingly and more so as your groom does.

Listen, I know you really love Chris.  I can't even begin to explain how that will grow and change over the years.  Enjoy the novelty and butterflies that you feel today and continue to think back on all that God has done to bring you two together.  And know that the love you feel today cannot even compare to how it will be in the years to come.  The security and safety and comfort of being known and loved for years and years to come.  The love will change but not in a bad way.  It will grow deeper with roots you cannot even fathom.  As he holds you through pain and loss and miscarriage and confusion and anxiety.  As he tolerates your crazy idiosyncrasies and neuroses.  As he walks you through days of migraines and pregnancies and flu and colds and just plain ugly days.  If you think you love him now and he loves you now...just wait, young bride, in all that will come. Because through the good and the bad and the ugly, you will always choose each other and cling to your covenant.  And it's more beautiful and wonderful than I can explain.

One word of advice you received for this day is something I want to camp on for a minute.  Your sister advised you today to stop and take a moment, here and there, and just look around and take it all in.  Impress it on your mind's eye.  Be in the moment and marvel in it.  Listen--don't just do that today.  Do that at family birthday parties and births of children and seeing your man hold your newborn baby.  Do that even in crazy hard mommy moments...remembering the awe that God would entrust you with those screaming and fussy toddlers that might drive you crazy. When your babies refuse to sleep, hold them tight.  And look at them with that wonder and intentionality.  The moments will pass faster than you can imagine.  So remember what your sister said. And let it be a recurring practice.

And one last thing that is super important.  Remember that what your man needs as much as anything is respect.  Never neglect to invest in your marriage or take an opportunity to let him know that you respect his opinion and his skills and his talents and his time and his just plain awesomeness.  It's going to be easy to get caught up in the busy days of life, pouring yourself out as a mom with little leftover for him.  But just because he isn't the squeaky wheel doesn't mean he doesn't need the oil. So, show him respect.  Greet him at the door with a kiss or a hug.  Or on the days when he pulls into the driveway from work and you are standing in the yard glaring, with a baby on the hip and a screaming toddler hanging on your leg...your eyes wild with fatigue and near insanity--take a minute to peck him on the cheek or remind him how much you admire his incredible skills as a dad.  And how you couldn't make it without him.

Today seems like the best day of your life.  You feel like a fairy tale is playing out.  And the truth is that it is.  But it's a real life fairy tale.  There will be hard times and lean years and frustrations and disappointments and discouragements.  You will face agonizing times of loss and grief and hardship.  You will have hilarious times when you crack each other up and remember how you have been best friends for so many years.  Your kids will embarrass the heck out of you in the middle of the grocery store as toddlers and drive you nearly crazy with screaming on an airplane (Never...I repeat...NEVER take your infant daughter on a plane as a lap child...just say no...trust me on this one...that 3 hour flight will indeed be 11 hours by the end of all the delays).  But it's ok.  You will laugh about it someday.  And the teen years are pretty much prime time to at least threaten your kids with revenge and embarrassment.

So, young bridal self, look at that incredible guy right beside you. Rest assured, you will both change.  A lot.  And he really will love you forever and ever, even when your hair turns gray (Clairol Nice and Easy--your number is 117).  And you will love him.  There may be moments you don't like each other.  But it'll pass.  And you'll remember.  That this was the best day of your life because you married your best friend. And you really have found the one your soul loves.   

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