Our wedding anniversary is Saturday. Over the next couple of days, Terry and I will spend some special time celebrating this journey we’ve made together. I can still feel the flurry of butterflies in my stomach when I first fell in love with him. I remember the thrill of wearing that sweet and tiny solitaire he gave me: “Out of all the girls, he picked me.” I felt wanted and treasured. I still feel that way with Terry.
Our start was not conventional but time has proven God was in the entire process. Those who loved Terry at his home church were afraid he’d be derailed in his schooling plans, and while he’d not yet accepted a call to ministry, many saw God’s hand of ministry upon him and were concerned. I understand why. For my part, I had prayed persistently that God would take these feelings from me. My heart had been broken aplenty by that time and I was weary from the ache; if my heart was headed the wrong direction, I needed God’s help to steer it the right way. Left to my own feelings, I was all in with Terry Feil.
God never answered that prayer and I’m glad He didn’t. While others may have feared that my presence would be a distraction to what God wanted Terry to do, it seems God knew that we were an excellent partnership and a wonderful love match. On our wedding day, three years after we met, it seemed God smiled on both of us. We were finally home. It still feels that way.
We had no idea the adventure that lay in store for us, no thoughts to the various complications that would arise to strain and challenge our ability to work together as a team. We had no idea the kinds of assignments that God would give us or how He was yet to shape and refine us as individuals. Our most significant common bond was that we both loved God before we ever met one another. We each sought Him separately and we began to seek Him together through prayer in the second year of our friendship. Considering all the challenges that lay before us and our distinct need to be sure God was leading us in the courtship, He was teaching us a rhythm we’d employ for the rest of our days. He was first for each of us, then He took that intimacy we each shared with Him and drew our two hearts together, with Him at the very center, and wove us into a three-strand cord. Without Him we will unravel and without the constant commitment from each of us, we would unravel. But together, all three of us committed to the advancement of God’s will in our lives and in this world, we are supernaturally strong.
After an especially painful season several years ago, we learned that our hearts could allow a measure of distance between us and it scared some sense into us. The strain of the circumstances that were thrust upon us and the ensuing challenges frayed our tight bond. God was putting each of us through a refining fire. Each of us felt we were being melted to our core and in some ways, we were. Dross was being removed and we were becoming a little more purified and whole lot more certain of God’s provision and sovereignty in our lives. He would sign His name to things in ways that were downright miraculous, not just to us, but to those who knew the intricacy of that journey.
The wispiest strand of emotional distancing wove its way into our cord, even as our trust for God strengthened, and we were left unsure of how to leave the grief of that season behind. We were different people now, unsure even of God’s assignment on our lives. We were thoroughly committed to one another and if you’d been a fly on our wall I doubt you’d have seen anything of concern. Our marriage was still of an extremely high-caliber, but perhaps we had slightly less patience with one another, didn’t reach to hold hands quite as often, did not feel that overwhelming confidence that we thoroughly accepted with one another. It was very subtle and given the number of years we’d been married and the challenges that lay before us in all directions, we’d chalked it up to “growing up” and the grimness that can set in when you’ve been buffeted too long by life. Perhaps this was normal.
In every way our home and life together was far better than we’d ever dreamed it could be. It was just the little sweetness that exists between sweethearts was missing. It came in fits and starts, but was not a steady, predictable tide any longer. God finally brought us some clarity: this was not just growing up and this didn’t have to be normal. There was a way to reclaim that confident gait we’d walked before.
We sat down together and bared our souls, sharing with one another the subtle shifts in our feelings and responses to one another. My troubles had fed Terry’s troubles which in turn seemed to feed mine. It was a vicious cycle but it had been so subtle and so gradual, hidden in the grime of that season of grieving, that we had not been able to name it before now. It’s like when your hopes and dreams are snuffed out and you both just resign yourselves to what life will be, not what you’d hoped it would be. It had been that type of unspoken understanding. But now that all changed. With those subtle feelings and issues laid out in the light, God would show us what to do to let them go. A fresh blossom of romance replaced those desolate places within us and with God’s help and choices of our will, we each released one another from the slight distance we’d held and returned to fully embrace one another’s heart.
That was about four years ago now and not only have we returned to that wholehearted embrace, we have enjoyed an especially tender sweetness in our relationship. We are sweethearts once again, not just husband and wife or lovers and friends. We enjoy one another without reservation and we confidently support and share in each other’s calling.
We are a little more seasoned, perhaps a little more wise and thoroughly enjoying this marriage that allows us to share God’s great adventure together. Certainly there will be more challenges and heart breaks, but we’re no stranger to those. Our hearts are set individually and together on God. He will lead us as we go, give us wisdom when we don’t know what to do, and continue to keep us wrapped tightly in His love, each of our hearts bound to one another, with God in the middle and leading the way. After all, we’re convinced this was His great idea and plan for us all along.