I walked down that aisle 16 days before he turned 27.
I can never forget that look on his face.
I don’t ever want to.
There are men who use words as cruelly as they use their weapons and their fists.
Men who see a weakness and exploit it,
break it even further down.
There are men who see their work as an escape, an excuse to stay far away from the women they married, the children who call them Daddy, the life they said yes to as a covenant was being formed with words and bodies and love.
It was in a little country church that I met him all dressed in white with a bouquet of roses and heather clutched tightly in my hand, saying those ancient words that would entwine my life with his as long as both our hearts were beating.
There were words I had never said to him – words about my life and my mistakes that I had never shared with him. Afraid of rejection, afraid of not being his.
He lifted that veil over my face to seal those vows with the only kiss we had ever shared, but I allowed a veil to remain over my heart.
It took well over a decade of days with this man and his loving and our 4 babies to loosen my tongue – to unveil a veiled life and lay myself bare.
Jesus, He had taken my life that wanted Him in name only, wanted nothing to do with His Church or His people or His Word and over a decade of days He wooed my heart and made me desperate for Him and His holy grace.
It was Jesus who loved me into lifting every veil from my heart and it was Tony who, in the middle of his own pain, tenderly took the bloody mess of my hidden secrets and helped me lift them up to the Light of forgiveness.
There is a man who walks fearlessly in the dark places. I’ve watched him from the quiet of our front porch. He reaches out to those who others would turn away from and loves deeply enough to point hard and broken hearts back to the truth of Jesus and His Word.
I’ve heard this man’s strong voice call hope into the mess of a drunken haze leaning on those old front steps of ours – the firm words that reminded as long as there was breath in the lungs, no one was ever too far gone.
My ears have caught his voice singing hope to our children as he prays words over bowed and sleepy heads.
I know a man who walks with me on a road that leads us to Jesus, who lovingly traces the scars of my past and lifts my eyes off of those broken days and points to the One Who is calling His Bride to Himself.
I know a man whose life has been one with my own for fifteen years. His arms hold the dearest comfort, his heartbeat is more familiar than the thrum of my own.
I know a man who walks in the ways of our Savior, whose eyes hold the Light of Life.
Fifteen years of moments and days and I selfishly want more of more gift of him.
My dearest Tony,
Your love has been the greatest gift I have ever received. Thank you for the ways that you give yourself to me…to us. Thank you for loving me and for leading me back to the love of Jesus. Thank you for loving me as Christ has loved the Church – for giving me a glimpse of the beauty of our Heavenly Bridegroom and the way that He loves us.
Thank you for fifteen incredible years. You have my heart and my love.