I always knew I'd marry a pastor.
College, for me, was an overwhelming relief after four years of high school in a very small town. I did well in school, and was relatively well-liked, but I hated it. There wasn't much to do, and everybody was in everyone else's business. Small towns are good for some things, but privacy isn't one of them. Once you've lived there a little while, you're encased in your own reputation, like a wax figure at Madame Toussad's museum. So whether you're smart, or wild, or a loner, or athletic, or whatever, that's what you are, and you're never anything else, as long as you live there.
I went to a small Christian college, Union University, about four hours away from home. I chose it only because that's where my youth pastor's daughter went, and I idolized her. She was who I wanted to be. So I went where she went. Really, I just wanted to get away from the mold I'd been forced into in that small town, and become who I really wanted to be. It proved to be a good move.
Not only was this my inaugural move to the South, which I now love with all my heart, it was also the Great Awakening for me spiritually. I grew as a Christian by leaps and bounds my four years there, and I also made some of the best friends of my life. All who lurk on this blog, by the way:) You know who you are, girls!
But the most life-changing thing at Union was not an experience, it was a who. A who in the form of a good-looking, velvety-drawling boy who wore his hat so low you couldn't see his eyes. He was 20, a pastor-in-training, and I was 18, and the moment I first saw him, that was it. I never looked back.
That was almost twelve years ago, and the memories we have made have gotten to be so rich. Layer upon layer of experiences, from college, to camps, to major moves, to our first real jobs, and our first pets, and our first child. Now, nine years after our wedding vows, we've gone through some tough times together, especially lately. And still, when I look at him, I see the boy I married, underneath the man he has become, and it takes my breath away. I still love to call his cell phone when I know he's not going to answer, just so I can listen to that soft drawl on his message. I still watch him play with our boys, or work to get our daughter to smile at him, and I remember seeing him with his roommate's dog back in college and thinking he'd make a good father. I was right.
I think back to that day, nine years ago, when we stood, young and skinny and idealistic, on that church stage and pledged our lives to each other. We didn't have a clue what that would really mean, that we'd have to band together and fight for each other even when we didn't want to. We didn't know that we'd have to leave and cleave shortly after our wedding, moving across the country from family, and become our own family. I learned quickly that my home was no longer with my parents, it was with him, no matter where he went. And I also learned that home with him was the only place I wanted to be.
It has been a good nine years. A remarkable nine years. We've had three children, too many pets to count, more than a few houses and cars, a couple of memorable vacations, and a few disasters, like frozen pool pipes and a flooded kitchen. All of those things start to run together, and the overlapping memories form us. Our idiosyncracies as a couple shape us and set us apart from any other. We are special. We are strong. We are walking on, hand in hand, through this crazy life, and I am the better for having been able to do this with him.
I always said I'd marry a pastor. What I didn't know was how good it was going to be.
Happy anniversary, Chris.