I was so, so young. I was entirely unsure of who I was as a person. I had no idea, really, so I was on a quest to figure that out. High school will do that to you.
And then came a boy.
No big deal, right? I was fifteen. Boys will come, and boys will certainly go; I knew the latter half of that all too well already.
But this boy was different. Because this boy, he didn’t go. Not for good, at least.
Our relationship was extremely unhealthy, no doubt. We fought entirely too often about the most absurd things, even calling it quits several times. Or maybe it was more than several. I can’t remember, nor do I really care. We’d be “single” again for anywhere from one hour to one week, though I’m not really sure that we ever even made it a full week before deciding to get back together.
This atrocious pattern followed us to college, where we spent our freshman year in absolute tumult. It was one of the most monumental years of our lives, yet we wasted it bickering about those girls he was sitting with at lunch or that guy I walked to class with. I think our friends probably prayed that we would just give up, exhausted and drained simply by being witness to our immature, jealous, selfish relationship.
And I certainly don’t love those memories. They’re not ones that I’m thrilled to have, and even less so to bring up. I haven’t even given these memories a second of my time in years, to be completely honest. Now that I am, though, now that I’m thinking about all the pain and heartache that that relationship brought me year after year, I’m filled with immense joy and gratitude.
You see, it makes me so insanely thankful for the incredible man that I’ve chosen to marry, then man that I daily choose over and over and over again. The man that I’ve chosen since he was just a boy, that fifteen-year-old with shaggy hair.
That’s right. I married that boy.
My husband, he is in many ways that same boy that I began dating those many years ago. He is still goofy, brilliant, handsome, kind, logical, determined, passionate, hard-working, stubborn, athletic, fun-loving, and an unbelievable leader.
Yet so much has changed, too. He is more thoughtful and less selfish. He is more romantic and less prideful. He is more nurturing and less guarded.
He completely shifted his career goals from when we first met, and he is both incredibly happy and successful on the path he has chosen. And he’s now daddy to two little men who believe him to be Superman, which is by far my favorite way in which he has changed.
So when I say that I daily choose the same man over and over and over again, do I expect him to be exactly the same man twelve years from now that he is today? Absolutely not. I pray that he’s not, in fact. Because I pray that both of us, he and I, never stop growing and changing and becoming more like Christ, His grace making us new creations from one moment to the next.
For me, it’s not the changing that’s terrifying. I’ve loved a boy who became a man before my eyes, walking alongside him for some of the most transformational years of his life.
Instead, it’s stagnation that cripples me. It’s the fear of no longer striving, no longer pursuing, no longer reaching for the greatness that God has in store for us.
We are called to change, to shift, to grow, to allow Him to renew our hearts day in and day out. He is continually refining us, ridding us our impurities and making us more like Him from one day to the next.
Which is why it really strikes me when people say that who they are now is so vastly different from who they were in high school that they couldn’t have met someone then and still be in a loving, thriving relationship with that person today. Because if I want to be transformed, if I want my heart to be made new every single day, that means that I will, through God’s restorative power, be a different woman tomorrow than I am today. Yet I will still be insanely happily married to the same man.
So why couldn’t my omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God take high school me (she was quite terrible, let’s be honest) and daily mold me into an even better fit for the man I’ve chosen to spend my life with, while doing the same work in him as my husband?
A better fit for my husband is a me that is more closely following Him, a me that is laying myself down in an effort to pursue Him, aligning myself with His word and heart.
And every day, I’m striving, as is he. So it should only get better.
But arrows will come, just as they did when we were young. Back then, in high school and college, we didn’t understand the arrows nor how to combat them. We fed into our own selfishness and pride, allowing the enemy to deceive us and rip us apart. Now, though, we see his foolish attacks as just that: ridiculous plots and schemes to divide what God has united, when our fallen selves are persisting by our own strength rather than clinging to Him.
Because our marriage is built on The Rock. It has been constructed on Truth, the only truly solid foundation, and we are bound by covenant, a commitment that is far greater than either of us.
And maybe that’s the kicker, the real reason for such a beautiful relationship despite such profound change: our marriage is built upon that which is unchanging.
So you’ll find me on the Rock, my ever-changing husband by my side, repeatedly dodging the countless arrows that soar by while laughing about the absolutely ridiculous people we were just yesterday.