Held & Loved
One year ago at this time, I had no idea that I would be as loved as I am today, or that I would know it for sure. If you had told me at last year's Thanksgiving table that by the same time next year, I would be married, I would have laughed (perhaps spewing cranberry juice in your face in the process) and asked you please to pass the green beans.
I've said it many times before, but it bears repeating: when James came into my life again just over a year ago, I had believed for some time that I was meant to live as a single person. I do not know whether this belief was the product of revelation, a personal response to my circumstances, acceptance of my state in life, or some melange of that list. Frankly, I'm not sure that it matters. I do know that it was a decision to guard my heart in a way that perhaps, I always should have been guarding it. I had been too open. I had committed many sins, many had been committed against me, and my heart bore the hurt and the memory of those things.
A celibate life was something I accepted both with resignation and enthusiasm, that I celebrated and mourned. I counted the loss this entailed, but I could also count the possibilities that might arise from such a choice.
But God ...
(My favorite stories begin with those two words)
But God had other plans. And if you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know what those other plans entailed. I still look at him in wonder. I see him and shake my head as though trying to shake off sleep; like waking from a dream, I'm surprised to see that all of this has not been the product of an overly fanciful imagination. I see him and know: this is not of my own doing. And I'm thankful. Grateful. Exceedingly so.
Married just over six months now, I still lose myself in wonder over it: that God could part the curtains of chaos in our universe and see me so particularly, to see me and to know what I needed for my holiness and my happiness, to see us and to know that we needed each other for those things. To see us and situate us such that His purpose and His plan were alarmingly clear, to compel us in a way that we could not deny, but at the same time, in no way limited the freedom He gives.
And it has been clear from the beginning: This is not my doing. This is not anything I've earned. This was given, gifted to us, but is not for us alone.
I am not in any way trying to quantify my gratitude. I would not say that I love and appreciate my spouse more than any wife has ever loved or appreciated her husband. I would not dare say it, because I know those cannot be quantified. An attempt to apply any form of measurement to love would be to minimize it. I am finding to be true what I've been told a hundred times by those with marriages I respect: you love much, the most you ever have, and yet it grows. And grows, and grows, and grows. You get the idea.
There are many things to be thankful for this season, but this one arises as prominent in my mind. As we go tomorrow as husband and wife to the place where I celebrated Thanksgiving last year (the same place at which we were married), I offer this particular gratitude for what has been given, for what continues to be given, and for what will be given. For the hand I hold, for the arms that embrace me, for the lips that kiss me, for the body that warms me when I am cold, for love received and given ... I am infinitely thankful and growing up into thankfulness.
It is more than my hands or my heart can hold.