David and I locked eyes from across the room. Like magnets, we were drawn toward each other. The rest of the room was a blur of light and I heard a symphony crescendo until the sound filled my head. The stars were brighter and the night was warmer. We knew right at that moment that there could be no one else for either of us. Without even making a decision, we knew that we had to get married. Immediately, plans were made and carried out and we found ourselves bound together for the rest of our lives. We wake up every single morning delighted to see each other. Without any effort at all, we make all of our decisions, big and small, in perfect harmony. We know no such thing as frustration or disappointment, because each of us is perfect and perfect for each other. There are frequently joyful conversations around our dinner table about money and doing the dishes and where to spend holidays, because we never have a difference of opinion.
Here’s what actually happened.
David and I met in first grade. My strongest memory of him is that I was super annoyed that he always beat me at a magnetic fishing game when we went to our reading enrichment class. The competitive streak was alive and well even at the age of six. Then he went to private school for a while, and our paths crossed again in middle school. We were casual friends, and I had a giant crush on him in eighth grade. I used to write “I ❤ David” on my hand at the beginning of the school day. Although we sat next to each other in English, for some reason I was shocked and embarrassed when he saw it one day. Logic has always been my strong suit.
In high school, we traveled in different directions. We were aware of each other, but not a big part of each other’s lives. That changed our senior year. Young Life became the place where we were both investing a lot of our time, and naturally, we began to spend more time together. We were both intrigued by each other. Then came a messy, painful couple of months where we had to make some decisions about what exactly we were going to do about it. At some point, we made a choice. We chose each other.
And we have chosen each other every day since then. It has been seven years, six months, and fifteen days since we made that decision. Two thousand seven hundred and fifty-three days of deciding to love each other. For so many of those days, it has been incredibly easy. David is my best friend. He is the balance to my strengths and weaknesses. I think he’s hilarious and he also makes me feel safe and protected and like I’m at home. He’s one of the people I respect most in the world. I admire his courage and strength and boldness. I’m incredibly proud of the man he is and filled with joy and gratitude that I get to be his other half. All of those things make it easy for me to choose him.
Some of those days, it has been incredibly hard. We both have a stubborn streak a mile wide and all the pride to go with it. Traffic can turn us into varying degrees of Oscar the Grouch. Someday, our kids will almost certainly inherit a tendency to use witticisms that will drive us crazy and that we will laugh about together afterward. Circumstances can be difficult. We moved a thousand miles away from our families within three months of being married. We’re paying for seminary tuition and Dallas living expenses on a teacher’s salary, and money doesn’t grow on trees. We have two different sets of expectations and ideas of “normal.” We are not perfect.
That’s why it is beautiful when I’m hangry, and David chooses to be patient with me and not condemn me for my bad attitude. That’s why it is beautiful when David leaves his clothes on the floor (again), and I ask him gently to put them away instead of berating him. We have to choose that, and choose it over and over again. We love each other in spite of all of our shortcomings. We have a covenant with each other that says neither one of us are going anywhere, come what may. In the same way that God loved us while we were at our darkest, when Christ died for us though we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8), we love each other in the midst of the mess. That is far more beautiful and valuable than the fairy tale of star-crossed lovers who never had a choice at all.