Four years ago today, Hannah and I walked down the isle, washed each others feet, exchanged vows and rings, and said the brave words, “I do”. After exchanging our personal vows, Bill White, the minister marrying us, included the traditional vows which we were to repeat to one another. You know, “For better or for worse, in riches and in rags, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” Those were words which I had seriously considered before marrying my girl. As excited as I was to marry my best friend, I had also counted the cost of what marriage may look like.
Hannah had been through nine years of ITP, meningitis in her brain, and a seizure complex which had no foreseeable end. It was important for me to count the cost so that when I stood with Hannah on our wedding day I would vow only what I was ready to hold true to until death.
The words “in sickness and in health” are often thoughtlessly repeated by blissful and healthy lovers on their wedding day with no thought of the future. But for us, there was plenty in Hannah’s medical past that gave us concern for what possibly lied ahead, although we didn’t know it would include a debilitating heart condition, multiple years of deep depression, and brain surgery.
And here we are today. What was expected to be a fun filled romantic dinner in Portland for our anniversary has ended up (ironically) in the Emergency Room in Eugene with a curtain separating us from a women who just had a heart attack, which doesn’t help since Hannah is here with a severe stabbing heart pain sensation.
What are we to do? Complain? Grumble? Grow bitter that a health crisis interfered with our anniversary plans? Not today. Today I’m thankful. I’m thankful for a bride who has put up with me and my lack of understanding and has taught me how to love. Easy love is often shallow, but the trials, pain, and grief that we’ve gone through together have deepened our love and strengthened our faith in the Lord’s faithfulness. I get to celebrate the fact that we’ve walked through the valley of the shadow of death and did not give up. I praise God for the everlasting joy that He has set before us so that in the midst of sorrow we have hope.
“We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice also in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance…” (Romans 5:2-3). The goal of our sufferings and trials is to conform us into the image of the Son, to strengthen our faith in the Father, and to knit our hearts together in love by the Spirit. And so although I tend to sound triumphalist in these times, I just don’t want to waste a perfectly good trial.
I washed my wife’s feet on our wedding day to symbolize my pledge to serve her and stay beside her, whatever life may bring. Marriage has not been an easy journey, but the joy and love which we find in our adventure is deeper and more precious than all the enjoyments the world offers; and today I celebrate our love.
Immensely grateful for my Georgia,