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Monday, November 28, 2016

Mr. & Mrs.

One year ago tonight these vows marked a new chapter of our stories...

Mr. to Mrs.

Sweet Kaysi,

When we met near five years past I had no reason to believe that I would know you in any way different from the many who had come and gone from my life over many years.

Even as I got to know you and discovered what a creative, curious, and caring person you were, I could only be thankful to God for giving me the great gift of a friend, co-laborer, and kindred spirit with whom to work and serve.  No longer one of many, you were one of a few.

There came a day when a series of heart-breaking scenes began to unfold.  As I struggled to accept and adapt, to find my footing in this new reality, you refused to turn away.  You refused to ignore, to allow yourself to pretend I wasn’t there as life moved on.  You embody the very essence of friendship—as so many in this room can attest—you were there, present, ministering, encouraging, and not just to me only, but to my sons as well.

Out of this darkness of great hardship a new realization dawned, new life where devastation had just swept through, like the first sprigs of green on the floor of a blackened forest.  There just wasn’t anyone I enjoyed talking to more than you, who I enjoyed reading with, watching movies with, who shared so many of my passions, my frustrations, my dreams, my impossible idealism, my love for the outdoors, my quiet introversion, who might be, if it were possible, an even bigger nerd than I am (I thought I might try to get her to wear her LOTR cloak with the elvish pin for this day, the one that she made).  You weren’t afraid to feel deeply even after your own years of waiting, aching, and hurting.  You refused to stop feeling to stop believing, to stop loving or serving.  Your presence allowed me in time to begin to believe again, to awaken hope, to think it possible that joy and laughter and ideas and heartaches and failures could be shared in a place of quiet, peaceful, accepting, intimate, and attentive friendship.  Out of that darkness I realized I had a best friend, and I began to sense the possibility that I could be married to my very best friend.  I think you sensed it, too.  No longer one of the many, or one of the few, you are the one.  As the one God used to bring light into darkness, you are forever my Kaysidawn.

By God’s grace, without which I will certainly fail:

I promise to continue to learn Jesus, how he loves, gives, heals, and restores, that I might love you as Christ loves his church, that I might love you as the daughter of Jesus you are, as both he and your earthly parents would long for you to be loved.

I promise to ever be learning you, who God is fashioning you to be, so that every day you are loved well and faithfully served, sharing this journey with you as your ever-present companion, your travel buddy in the continuous journey of life.

When times are tough, I promise to keep my heart turned toward you.  I will be a safe and dependable place for you to share the deepest places of your heart.  I will not take your trust for granted, rather I will guard it and foster it, and I will share my heart with you.  I will not withhold myself from you; all I have to give is yours.

I promise not only to love you, but to love with you.  I will partner with you to build a home that overflows with loving warmth that draws people in, a place from which to go to share the love of Christ, and to which to return to share this love together, I’ll be your partner in and for the reconciling work of his Kingdom.

I promise to discover and explore new places with you on warm summer days.

I promise to cuddle with you on cool autumn evenings.

I promise to hold you as you sleep, even when you’re sleeping through the movie we’re cuddling up to watch.

I promise to read to you and write to you, to enjoy beauty and art and music old & new with you.

I promise to be a faithful steward of the magnificent example of God’s handiwork and your family’s beautiful love that you are.

By the grace of God and the power of the Spirit, I am yours in Christ, your loving and faithful husband, and will be so until death do we part.

Mrs. to Mr.

My sweet Eric, standing here with you today is the realization of a lifelong dream for me.  The one thing I’ve known since I was a little girl was that I wanted to be a wife.  I had no idea it was going to take this long, and at times I truly believed a day like this would never come, but if I could go back in time now I would tell myself it is absolutely going to be worth the wait.

Not only has it been worth the wait to be standing here with someone I love so much, and someone who loves me so well, but it has also been worth the wait because of how I’ve grown over the past 34 years -- and especially over the past 3.  And you had so much to do with that even before I ever could have imagined sharing the rest of my life with you.

I honestly have very little recollection of what I thought of you for probably at least the first year I knew you, but I do remember the message you preached on Mother’s Day your first spring in Reno - a message that honored all women, not just mothers or even wives.  It spoke to the place in my heart that ached and often felt excluded from both what I longed for and what seemed simply to be “normal” for most everyone else around me.

As time passed and I began to participate in the young adults group, and then as I took part in the “worldview group” you formed in the summer of 2012, a new hope started to grow in me -- a hope that had nothing to do with my dream of being a wife, as it seemed as far away as ever, but a hope for something bigger & even more beautiful...God’s Kingdom.  I’d already begun to see His Kingdom in a new light when I took Perspectives in 2011, but through countless discussions in these groups of which you were a part, a bigger vision really took root in my heart & mind, a vision in which God had created a good world, and even though it broke, He had been working ever since to redeem & restore all that had broken.  It was a vision full of hope and devoid of fear, which was different from what I saw in so many circles that claimed to follow Jesus yet constantly manipulated people with fear & guilt.  I started to experience freedom, hope, joy, & peace like I never had before, and my ongoing conversations with you & Cassidy & our young adults group & our worldview group were the ground in which that new life grew.  There is no doubt in my mind that apart from your time here in Reno, I likely never would have experienced the fullness of life I now know -- and I’m confident that holds true for quite a few other people who join us in this room today.  God has used you to bring life & freedom & hope to so many, and even if our stories had not converged in such a way as to bring us to this day, I still would have counted my life as being deeply blessed & forever changed because of your presence in it.

I also would have counted myself blessed by your friendship long before I ever dreamed of this day.  Again here, I know I am not the only one in this room who has found you to be a friend of the most trustworthy sort, and I’m quite confident this is due in large part to the fact that you give people a safe place to express disappointment and frustration.  You don’t discount heartache or try to jump to a quick solution, you identify with people’s pain.  In doing so you’ve helped me (and probably others) to feel less “crazy” and less alone.

And so it is you were to be a significant character in my story no matter what; yet here we are in a moment neither of us could have foreseen when our paths first crossed at the end of 2010.  Strangers became acquaintances, and eventually acquaintances became friends, but now as our friendship has grown into love, you’ve come to care for me with more tenderness than I ever imagined any man besides my dad having the capacity or desire to do.  You affirm who I am, you see beauty in how God designed my personality & gifts & hopes & dreams, and you encourage me to walk in those things without fear or insecurity.  You see me, and you love me exactly as I am, flaws and all.  I feel safe with you, treasured, enjoyed, protected, encouraged to grow, and loved.  I know this isn’t the story either of us would have imagined or chosen for ourselves; we both had hoped for resolution to our aching loneliness in other ways, long before now, for years & years.  And yet I’m so grateful God saw our pain and redeemed our stories by giving us one another.

As I become your wife today, I promise I will also continue to be your friend.  I will be the girl sitting across from you in the cafe, talking with you about anything & everything under the sun.  I will happily share space with you even when we are silent -- reading, writing, or scrolling mindlessly through Facebook.  I will be your travel buddy, for hikes & for road trips & for life itself.  We will adventure together, even if our adventure is just trying the Beijing beef for the first time.  :)

I will be a listening ear when something is weighing on you, and when you’re excited over something, and yes, even when you’re recounting stories from officiating that I can only half follow.  :)  I will laugh with you and I will cry with you.  I will dream with you.  I will always be in your corner, supporting you & cheering you on.

I won’t forget or neglect the foundation on which our friendship was built -- our shared love for God’s Kingdom.  I will continue to grow with you as we pursue greater understanding of one another, of others, of the world, and of the heart of God.  I will pray for you & with you, and I will welcome your prayers for & with me.

I will be honest with you when something is troubling me.  I won’t leave you to guess how I’m feeling -- you know I’m not good at hiding it anyway.  I will choose to believe the best of you at all times, and I will only ever speak well of you to others.

I will always remember where you came from, the experiences that helped make you the man you are today, and I will comfort you when any old ghost comes back and tries to haunt you.  I will give you a warm, loving home to come back to each night -- a refuge where you can find peace & rest.  And I will hold your hand & hug you & kiss you every day for the rest of our lives.

As far as it depends on me, I will never allow you to feel the pain of loneliness again.

My sweet Eric, I will be your girl, your fellow grammar nerd & INFJ, your princess, your “shared brain,” your fellow dreamer & idealist, your best friend, and your love for as long as we both shall live.  In the words of those great poets Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt, “I love you and I like you.”

One year in and I still love you and like you as much as - no, even more than - I did when I first read these words to you.  I'm so grateful we get to share this wild journey of life with each other.  May our hearts continue to grow in this mutual tenderness for many, many more years to come.  
Happy Anniversary to my long-awaited sweetheart.  I love you so dearly.

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