Editor's Note: Today we're wrapping up a month-long series exploring the joys and struggles of marriage, broaching the topic from multiple angles for the sake of helping, healing, and considering.
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As my wife, Amber, and I have heard stories of dissolving marriage covenants, we’ve also heard explanations from those involved. They say things like, “I never really loved him” or “We don’t have anything in common.”
We do not know all of the details of their stories, but we do know ours. I have resolved to memorialize the truth about life with Amber. May it serve as a record to revisit if I am ever tempted to rewrite our beginnings or tear apart the end.
I had just turned twenty-one—a zealous boy who loved Enter the Worship Circle and custom acoustic guitars. I was a kid who craved an odd mix of hand-drums and economics. Uptight and laid back. A reforming legalist. A burgeoning grace-wearer.
She was nineteen—a newborn Christian who had given up weed for Jesus. A ripped-jean wearer. A sexy walker who made me quiver when she shook her hips. A girl who devoured Scripture like it was fresh-baked. Like it was rustic. Like it was real. She had this Alabama accent, the kind that washed over you, the kind that said she knew how to whip up a batch of homemade biscuits. It made me crazy.
We once walked in sweater weather to the intramural fields, a fine mist hanging in the air. We had only been dating for two weeks and she huddled close, clinging to my arm like a lifelong lover. The drizzle blanketed us. It condensed and froze into ice chips on our wool hats. We made it through one-quarter of the football game before retiring to the coffee shop for coffee, pastries, and close talking.
We sat at the corner table under the poster of Paris. She asked me what I thought about the Holy Spirit and scribbled notes on a square napkin about baptism. She asked if we could pray together. I hesitated, wondered if allowing our words to comingle in prayer might lead to something more significant than coffee shop attraction. But when I looked at her, when the word "sure" slipped from my lips, I knew that something was happening. That was the moment I knew that I loved her. Two weeks later, on a Searcy side street, the still, small voice whispered near-audibly, “Listen, son. Marry Amber. She’ll save you one day.” We walked down the aisle eleven months later.
We made our first home in Tulsa, walked wobbly-kneed down the tight-rope of new love and a new career. We suffered together through an agonizing church experience, held white-knuckled to hope. We survived by retreating into our love. We snuck Champagne into our apartment—a blatant violation of our Baptist prohibition era. We ate chocolate strawberries, pretended we were patrons in an expensive hotel. We lit candles. We said “I love you” in the dark. It was a bit cliché, maybe. But it was our cliché. It’s how we survived.
It’s been twelve years now, and we’ve weathered our fair share of life, but the truth of our early love hasn’t worn thin. It’s been bolstered, set firm as we’ve learned to confess and forgive. We’ve learned that love is complex, that it matures with every anniversary. Even still, we’ve held firm to the truth of our early love because those were the foundation days—the autumn chill, the poster of Paris, the fingers intertwined.
The truth is simple; it always sets us free. And the truth is, I’ve loved Amber from the beginning.
The truth is, I always will.
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The "I Do" Collection
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