Today marks exactly 24 years since Susan and I got married.
Twenty four years!
What’s shocking to me is just how much 24 is an ‘old people number.’ I can remember as a kid when some relatives celebrated their 25 anniversaries. Those people were old. We’re not old. Certainly not.
I guess the other thing that really stands out as I look back over these 24 years is that you really don’t have any idea what your life will look like when you start out together. We thought we wanted to have kids, but of course, had no idea what our kids would be like. But our kids are such a core part of who we are now that it’s impossible to imagine what our lives would be like without them.
When we got married we were both in liberal arts undergrad, Susan in Religious Studies and me in History. Even at the time, we weren’t sure what we were going to do, but man we never would have imagined where we went.
We moved for Kazakstan a little after our first anniversary, to live and work there for a year. In many ways that experience, as mixed as it was, opened out eyes – collectively- for what living overseas could look like, what working in a foreign mission field may look like.
We ended up living in France, two times, for a total of eight years. Two of our kids were born there. Prior to moving there, neither of us had even travelled to France other than a few days as we were moving back from Kazakstan, and neither of us had anything beyond Anglophone-high-school-French. The kind of French that really is pretty bad, not because of what/how it was taught but because at the time as a teenager you can’t imagine you’ll ever use it.
We’ve changed a lot, and we’ve been through quite a bit. We’ve been hurt, we’ve hurt each other. We’ve experienced so much joy, sorrow, adventure, disappointment, love – and we’ve done it together.
We were talking with a couple the other day coming up on 28 years, and they noted how you’re not really married to the same person through that time ( referring to something I think Tim Keller said about being married to a different person every year). That totally resonated, I think especially for us since we got married quite young and have gone through a lot since. I am not the same person I was when we got married. I look back on that guy – so young, so naive. So selfish, so sure of so many things. Had never really sacrificed much for anything – certainly not for anyone but me. Thought I had a firm grasp on God, what following Jesus meant. I never had been through much heartache, had no idea what real fear was, or honestly real deep joy, or actually much else.
Susan and I have both changed a lot over 24 years. A lot. In some ways looking back at who we were when we got married is like looking at someone else entirely.
But I guess that’s what life is. Perhaps the most significant things we learn are when we uncover that we don’t know what we don’t know.
As we spend more time experiencing life, one of the things that happens is we realize how little we know, and how much there is we cannot ever know. That’s why people who have it all figured out make me so nervous. Whether it’s people who think “it’s so obvious what we should be doing as a society about COVID” or people who have a theological system that creates neat rules about God that explains everything. But I suppose all that is for another post.
What this is about is one of the few things in this life that I am sure of.
I made a very, very, very good decision 24 years ago that I would never change. When I look over the ways I have changed, all the good ones are Susan-related. No person has taught me more about compassion, and concern, and empathy, and grace, and love, and faithfulness than my bride.
So while there have been some tough times, some scary times, that round off the amazing, and the joyous — I would never, ever, ever trade in these past 24 years for anything else.