Today is my anniversary. Gosh, it’s been my favorite kind of chaos.
One Sunday, two days before today, I came home from work. It had been an exhausting day- not the ‘my feet hurt because I’m a nurse working 12s’ kind of exhausted, but the tugg of feeling both immense joy but often disrupted by immense frustration and hurt kind of exhausting. Now, I’d like to call it circumstances, but then, I wasn’t so sure.
September of last year, I was right in the middle of one of the darkest seasons of my life.
It was a constant turmoil- always something else being said or done, pushed around by this or that, and limited, my boyfriend was doing all he could to keep my head above water.
He talked me into coming to his house that night instead of going home to wash off all I could of that day’s stress and the empty and unnecessary conversation I had just before. He knew how tired I was, just tired of being tired.
I walked in to a dark foyer, my eyes still wet with tears and dripping mascara to find him down on one knee.
He apologized. He said Katie, I’m sorry, this is all I have, but please. I am so tired of watching other people destroy what I already know is mine. Will you marry me so I can protect you now and forever. I promise you will never hurt like this again. I love you so much. And he slipped a black pony tail on the never-more-grateful ring finger of my left hand.
And what that man did not provide in diamonds, He certainly made up for in intentionality.
What he saw as nothing, felt to me like everything.
Two days later, I called my Mom. I said I’m getting married today, Mama. Tonight, actually. She said, baby don’t wear black.
I glanced at the bathroom door to my left and smiled at the black cocktail dress waiting to hold me as I stepped into this next season and just said “Mama, I’m okay.”
That night at 10:10P.M., my husband and I signed our marriage licenses in a down town Memphis, Tennessee starbucks. Afterwards, we took a trip to the museum near by and made our promises to one another in front of a female Pentecostal preacher. She was carrying a knife in her Bible and spat 1st Corinthians 13 faster than busta spit rhymes. We laugh over and over at this adventure.
Poorly lit areas of downtown Memphis are obviously not the safest places to hold a make-shift ceremony, but I’ll tell you- that night was the second safest time of my life, the first to come only a few months after those Memphis steps when Jesus rescued me from myself.
I tell you all of this to emphasize only a few little, big things: I had cycled through the big church wedding. I had “the big proposal”, the full-of-rose bouquet, and the extravagant honeymoon. I wore the white dress once.
A wedding is not meant to be a perfect day, but a promise to an unperfect person.
I wore white once; I noticed every stain.
Mama said, “A wedding is not a funeral Katie; black is bad luck”
You’d have to know my mom- it actually sounded more like a song.. “Kaayyyttiiieeee, baby no, not black”
I wore black this time anyway. It was a funeral in a way. A lot died that night at 10:10 at that Starbucks table.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:9-12
I’ve heard it told that marriage is hard. For years and years my elders said marriage is tough, so naturally I wasn’t surprised when it was.
It wasnt until my, now, husband taught me what marriage really was that I realized what marriage wasn’t. Marriage is not hard at all; Marriage is work.
You have to be intentional with your love. It’s a service.
See the bad things as what they are and snuggle down with the good things because those are the things that keep your heart warm.
Love your spouse in a way that chooses her over everything else; choose her even over you.
Put her first, look out for her first.
Do not become complacement in your feelings for her. Kiss her long everyday- the kind of kiss you feel in your toes even after a year(s) of marriage- not just before work and before bed. Make love a life and not a routine.
The last thing is the first priority. Love the Lord. Let Him show you how to be hopeful when it feels hopeless and patient while you wait. And faithfully pause your pride and watch him show out everyday that you’ve had a hard time showing up.
I wore the black dress.
I let the fairytale of Cinderella’s gold plated pumpkin go. The movie Pretty Woman has always been my favorite ending anyway. Not castles and kingdoms, but just a man willing to climb whatever to rescue me.
I told myself that I couldn’t do it alone.
I didn’t want to be the girl that could take care of herself anymore. I wanted someone to help me. Someone devoted to choosing me. I needed someone to give me 80% on the days I only had 20 left, and when he only has 10%? I’ll bring the 90.
I didn’t want a white dress this time around. The one that holds on to every time some one dropped something, something that remembers everything that didn’t go all well-approximated and clean.
I wanted the black one, the one that didn’t remind me of the bad things, but instead complimented the unevenness enough that I could be confident to know that even though I’m aware of imperfections, everything else is lovely.
And lovely is more.
I wore the black dress. It complemented my new black pony tail, and my heart has been so full ever since because I knew that when that man, bent onto his knee on those wooden floors that night, said I just want to protect what is mine- he meant it.
He’s shown up every day since.
Girls- I hope your hair is big, your bouquet beautiful and your dress perfect, but please remember nothing white ever stays perfectly clean. If you don’t want stains, it doesn’t have to be hard, but it does have to be work.
And for me?
I would never trade anything for my ponytail propsal signed and sealed for forever with the funniest memories and the sweet smell of coffee.