Writing a love letter to you is not easy. Not because I can’t think of a thousands things I love about you–I oh-so-easily could do that! Not because I’m not a writer or because words won’t flow from my heart to the ends of my fingertips, through the keyboard and onto this letter. Not because I don’t feel the passion, desire, enjoyment, pleasure, adoration and thrill of that first kiss or the first time we met. No, it’s none of those things. It is hard to write a love letter to you because how does one write the love of a lifetime into just a few short paragraphs?
We are no longer the energy and excitement of young people. We have lived through the years of wondering if we would ever find someone to love us, what s/he would look like and be like. We have thought of and prayed for “our future spouse” and then forged ahead when we should have waited. We have lived through the self-assuredness of youth, believing we “knew better” and forging ahead like we understood it all. We have lived through the thrill of falling in love, getting to know someone, thinking maybe-just-maybe they were “the one”, and having our hearts broken. We have lived through making selfish choices, paying the price, and experiencing some pain. We have lived through the joy of finally finding each other–the fun of realizing that the other person loved us too–the thrill of wanting and being wanted. And we have lived through the happiness of being engaged, wanting to tell the whole world of our love, planning a wedding, honeymooning in every possible way, and being newlyweds.
We are no longer the whirling activity of middle age. We have lived through the years of cramming 28 hours worth of work-children-school-sports-activities-and hobbies into 24 hours. We have lived through and raised seven children, each one incredibly unique and special. We have lived through beaming with pride as each one of them achieved a milestone in life, and crying tears as each one of them made a choice we knew would hurt them. We have lived through schooling our children in seven completely different ways. We have lived through working and working and working and working, but never quite seeming to earn enough money. We have lived through the rise and fall of companies and political parties. We have lived through seeing each one of our children grow up and move out with the self-assuredness of youth. We have lived through waking up to a house that is empty except for us…and the pets. We lived through the joys of graduations, weddings, birthdays and anniversaries–and through the tears of deaths in the family, temptations in our marriage, and learning of illnesses.
From you, I have learned what true love really is, and what it can be. I have watched how you treat me, and from that I’ve learned what commitment really means. I have learned that men can be gentle and kind and thoughtful, and that it is safe for me to trust you. I have learned that I have to be brave and open up to you when something is wrong, and that you don’t retaliate if I’m honest. I have learned how to be angry in a godly way. I have learned to look at myself when I’m feeling selfish, and that usually I’m the one who needs an attitude adjustment. I have learned to be patient and forgiving. All of this, and so much more, I have learned from you, and you have been a loving and thorough teacher. Our love is not perfect, after all we are two sinful people, but before I knew you, I thought of marriage more like “playing house only in real life” and now I know that marriage is sacred and a direct image of the relationship that Jesus (the Bridegroom) has with the Church (the Bride).
And now…now we are in that part of our life that is sometimes called “The Happy Golden Years.” Life is changing. All the things I thought were so funny when my Grandparents said them are now happening to me…to us. Rather than being slim, trim, healthy fifty-year-olds looking at adventuring and retiring energetically together, we are facing health problems. It’s odd…almost like our bodies are betraying us, because in our minds we are still young and in-love! But sweetheart, after all we have been through together, after learning so much from you and knowing that our God is sovereign, I look forward to the years ahead with you. Whether we have four more years together or forty–I don’t know. But I do know that I can not wait to spend every moment with you, loving you, caring for you as you have cared for me, sharing all the joys and sorrows, anticipation and disappointments together. Come what may, I love you and only you, always.