When Chad and I were married, I was 21 years old, two weeks out of college, and scared to death. Oh, I wasn’t afraid to marry Chad. That was one thing I was 100% certain about. We had lived for two years as desperate long-distance loves, and I felt like I would die if we went another day living in separate houses in separate states.
Distances were further back then. We had no cell phones, and he couldn’t afford to talk on the house phone because he was a starving musician. So, we wrote actual letters on paper and thousands of emails using dial up internet. It was practically the dark ages.
When I agreed to marry this man, it meant packing up everything I owned and moving seventeen hours away from everyone I knew. We had a small-town church wedding, cake and mints in the fellowship hall, and we took off to another small town 40 miles away. We checked into a little bed and breakfast, and I spent the first hour of our two night honeymoon crying because I was going to have to move away from my mama. Poor Chad had married a child, and his first hours of our marriage were spent comforting me with cookies and pasta and corny jokes and shaky reassurances.
We were so, so young.
It was such a beautiful start.
I love weddings and everything about them. We go to a lot of weddings, and they are often big, elaborate affairs. Afterward the couple is whisked away in their limo to some exotic location for a week long honeymoon. And, I laugh and think about our two nights in Granbury, Texas, which we couldn’t really afford.
We never got a “real” honeymoon, whatever that means. We left Texas 48 hours later and drove toward Nashville, Just Married still hastily scrawled on our back window. We stopped on our way and slept in a motel in Arkansas that cost $29, and I wondered if we would live through the experience. I remember how proudly we announced to a waitress at an IHOP someplace that we had only been married for three days. She looked at us knowingly, her eyes betraying her doubts that it would ever last.
5, 720 days later, I can look back and remember how it all started in our first hour of marriage, when that sweet boy, with great concern in his face, ran downstairs to try to find his sobbing wife a Sprite, because he thought it might make me feel better. And, you know what? It really did.
We spent two nights in that beautiful old house with a bunch of old people, and we made plans to never get old and boring.
Well, I’m sure we are old and boring now. But, by God’s grace we have never bought into the lie that a marriage needs white sand beaches or perfect circumstances to survive. What matters more than a trip to Paris or a fancy car or a big house to live in is just a heart that says, I will deal with your breakdowns as they come. And, I will love you anyway.
I don’t think Chad could’ve given me a better gift on our wedding day. What a beginning. What a life. No exotic destinations in sight. But, plenty of love and patience and perseverance.
And, one of these days, maybe we’ll go into an IHOP someplace and tell a waitress that we’ve been married for 6,000 days. She’ll find us old and boring, but, we won’t even care. Our whole life is a honeymoon, we’ll tell her, and she’ll smile politely and ask us if we want bacon or sausage with our pancakes. She won’t even realize that what’s sitting in front of her is a miracle that began all those years ago with a sobbing bride and her brand new husband, shakily sipping Sprite together in an old house, with no earthly idea what they had gotten themselves into.
I’m thankful for that little beginning. And for a great love.