*I’m writing this letter to Beau on his birthday. The idea first came from reading the Marriage Letters that Seth and Amber Haines write on the first of every month.
Before we started dating, when we were just getting to know each other, there was this one night I couldn’t fall asleep. I was up thinking about you. Drinking deep the cup of girl-heart things like,
“Does he like me?”
“Where is this going?”
Trying so hard to slow down all the rushing emotions by way of sanity. Rational thought. It wasn’t working because it was 2:00am and I was still up.
In complete restlessness I took to my phone. Checking my email and I saw an email come in from you. Right at that moment. You were up too, hundreds of miles away. Thinking about me. Your email was some kind of wild prayer answered, dripping thick with comfort and waves of deep breaths.
You were awake taking the temperature of things. Stepping fully up to that plate as man. Leader. Protector. All before I was even yours.
In your email, maybe you said a lot? Or maybe you said little? I can’t remember but I can grasp exactly what you were conveying.
“Hey, I like getting to know you. But I’m slowing
this down. Making time for holy pauses.”
Maybe another girl would have completely lost all her faculties. But you always told me I was unlike any girl you ever met.
You said slow. And in some strange matrix way all my emotions slowed too. You brought trust to the table. So all my unanswered thoughts, all my past hurts, all my cautious ways – they stopped and hung in the air. Suspended. Safe.
We eventually started dating. You know what I love about our story? How you pursued me. I always knew who I was to you and where I stood with you. I knew when I was a friend. I knew when I was a crush. I knew when I was a girlfriend. And you always brought this reality into the forefront before I could even start to ask the question.
You said God told you I was going to be a difficult catch. Maybe some girls would be offended by that. But I love when you told me that, when you proposed to me, because it reminded me how much God knows me. And how much you are willing to listen to God about me.
It was hard, hey? Long distance from the first day we met until we were married. There were a lot of goodbyes and weeks of not seeing each other. There was never a phone call to just meet each other for ice cream. Only text messages and phone calls and the countdown until we could see each other next.
Remember when you would come pick me up at the airport, all those times, and I would always be sad. You’d ask what’s wrong and I’d say,
“I miss you already.”
Because I knew we only had hours together and then a new big countdown would start again.
People told me lots of times that they could never do it. That they couldn’t imagine doing long distance for the whole dating relationship. When you deployed they all told me they couldn’t do that either – marry a man they knew would deploy an unidentified amount of times for who knows how long. They did not mean it to harm me. In fact I think they meant it to build me up. Like maybe I am some strong freak of a woman. Look at me, I can go months without my husband. I choose this. I am woman, watch me roar and whatnot.
But you know what? I wasn’t strong. Your love made me soft. You came up and stood next to me and I knew I didn’t ever want to stand without you. I knew I wanted you to be the one to walk me Home.
Eventually loving you found me waking up every morning you were deployed, after our first year of marriage, with tears in my eyes. I remember those mornings. Every morning. Waking up with wet eyes. I never fully knew if I was crying in the night or was just waking and starting to tear up.
You showed me that love wasn’t long periods of drought with a constant longing for lightening to strike and take me to some unsustainable utopia. You showed me love is the consistent movement towards each other. That if it’s going to be drenched in anything magical it better be drenched in holy forgiveness. That if it’s going to be strong it better be strong enough to stand up under mundane days.
You showed me that love doesn’t stick around because of flowers or gifts or unending flattery. It stays by the glue of consistency. You always coming home to me. You always doing the dishes – even when I say, “I’ll do them tomorrow.” You bringing a book to the dinner table and saying, “Let’s read out loud and talk. I still want to learn you.”
You pointed me right up against love and showed me that the fierce war waged isn’t a loud one with tangible enemies. But love is, we are, being shoved up quietly & routinely against the call to check out. To not forgive. Not today. To say, “Hey, what about me?” It’s a war calling for complacency. To go from bright burning holy to lukewarm gray.
Maybe I knew all of this before marriage. But it probably seemed much more romantic in thought. Now we’re up to our elbows in it. The everyday-ness of love. Life trying to cover up its sacredness.
But you keep the temperature. You crawl into my mind. Debased as it sometimes is. You see all those big questions I ask myself all the time. About heaven and how much we’ve screwed things up. About worth and about how things are so devastatingly backwards here. About America and really, truly, how stained by this world am I? And you know what you do? You pray for me. Always praying for me.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, you’re so worth it. Every tear and every countdown to see you and every difficult moment is so worth it. Because I know no matter what path we’re tripping along, me there usually drinking deep a cup of crazy or trying on all the emotions – you’re there too, taking the temperature. Waking up at 2:00am but this time turning to me now in your bed. Praying over me. Saying, with your hand as you stroke my hair, let’s take it slow. Tonight and tomorrow.
You always seem to remind me that we don’t have to conform to the crazy fast pace of this life. That the American dream bursting full and sick with gluttony – filled up on self-accomplishments, self-promotion, self-care…is just that, a dream.
So you remind me, we can go slow.
Happy birthday, Beau. Here is to more slow with you. Here is to us walking each other Home.