Special note: My beloved goes by C.C. to the rest of the world yet I refer to her as Christie. Even after fifteen years I still find myself in the position of explaining this little quirk in our marriage to folks quite often. It really seems to confuse people sometimes. A few have even jumped to the conclusion, before they thought it through, that C.C. must be my wife while Christie must be my girlfriend or something. Well, ummm, no! Its simple really – the initials stand for Christie Cherie which she shortened to C.C. after we were married. Yet, I fell in love with her calling her Christie and still do so (and do so all throughout this post). Its that simple. That’s all there is too it. C.C. and Christie refer to the same person. There are no girlfriends on the side or split personalities involved, I promise!
“Marriage is foremost a vocation & a spiritual reality. A man and a woman come together for life to fulfill a mission that God has given them.” Henri Nouwen
Fifteen years! It almost takes the breath away. There were even people who told us we wouldn’t make it. Suffice it to say, they were (and are) wrong.
Fifteen years! Its hard, really, to know where to begin. The first thing I noticed about Christie was her blue eyes – absolutely beautiful and enrapturing. I still remember the first moment I looked into her eyes. Though she didn’t know it, she had me right then. Or there is the kiss of her lips. Simply sweet and intoxicating to this very day! I remember our first kiss. There was definitely no turning back after that. It was simple, I couldn’t say exactly why, but I knew we had to get married – and get married we did. And there is the touch of her skin – exhilarating, warm, and comforting – all from just the touch of fingertips or the holding of hands.
Fifteen years! I really didn’t think I could ever be more in live with Christie than the day we married or her ever be more beautiful – and beautiful she was! But I am man enough to admit I was wrong. Our marriage has been one in which love has grown. I am more in love with her at this very moment than ever before. Love is just like that, it keeps multiplying. And if she could see what I see, it would be a woman who is even more beautiful to me now. Each day with her I seem to find more beauty that I had not discovered previously. How wonderfully beautiful our Creator has made my beloved. It seems there’s a never ending surplus!
Fifteen years! And she’s even more now ‘the other side of me.’ Looking back, it seems I had really little to no idea who I was when we married. Christie has helped me to know myself … she has given me the gift of not only herself but me as well. I truly believe that this gift, the gift of ‘who I am’ if you will, can only be given to us in relationship to others. It’s not a gift we can confer on ourselves as a solitary practice. I think this is one of the reasons we have the church – the community of God’s people imaged after and participants in the divine triune communion. I think marriage works like this as well – imaged after and participants in triune love and grace. After a lot of practice, which has included much failure as well as success on my part, I can attest that we really only ‘find ourselves’ when we pour ourselves out for other people. Marriage is like this – a most intimate daily pouring out of oneself for another person. We call this sort of thing faithfulness.
Fifteen years! Yet the month of September comes to us as bittersweet. Eight yrs ago on September 1st would have been our little Noah Avery’s due date. Fourteen yrs ago our little Jordan Taylor went to be with our Lord. On this day, our anniversary day, our little Micah Jayden was due to be born eleven years ago. Though we weren’t able to meet Jordan Taylor, Micah Jayden, & Noah Avery in person (yet) … we love and miss our babies all the same. Even after all these years Christie & I profoundly feel and lament their absence from us each day. Contrary to what many have told us we do not believe we need to ‘get over’ our grief or see it as unhealthy. We conduct our mourning not only as a natural aspect of parents who have lost their children but as a husband a wife within the intimate communion of marriage. We grieve (and rejoice) together.
Fifteen years! Yes, we have experienced much grief, but we have not grieved as those without hope. The ‘not yet’ of the Kingdom points towards and will one day fully give way to the ‘already’ of the Kingdom of God. For this reason, we also rejoice that one day we’ll see them face to face with King Jesus. We do not believe this will be in some sort of dis-embodied ‘heaven’ (see N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope for more on this) as many seem to imply. The blessed hope of participation in Christ’s bodily resurrection means that in the ‘new heavens and new earth’ we will be able to touch them and hug them and hold them in our arms. It is in large part because of all of the above that theology for me can never be an ‘ivory tower’ discipline divorced from reality and human experience. The incarnation of our liberating King Jesus, the blessed hope we have because of his resurrection, and our participation in the communion of Father, Son, and Spirit touches ALL aspects of the human story – reaching down even into the depths of our grief and mourning. This is our story.
Fifteen years! Christie has been my teacher by being my best friend and wife. She would probably say I’m the ‘real’ theologian, but she has taught me the nature of the marriage bond as a sacrament in which we encounter the triune love and grace of Father, Son, and Spirit together within the faithfulness of the marriage covenant. This is something I could never learn simply just from a book! And there’s more – what it means to be a man, a husband, a daddy, a friend, a lover, a pastor/chaplain, to grieve well, to rejoice well and laugh often – I have learned from her as wife, mother, lover, pastor/chaplain, and friend. I have learned from her the meaning of loving faithfulness. What it means to be Christlike I have learned mainly from her. Whatever accomplishments, academic or otherwise, I have would not be possible without her. They are hers as much as mine. I (we) certainly wouldn’t have Damaris (our amazing and soon to be 13 year old daughter) without her! In the final analysis I know more of the triune love and grace of Father, Son, and Spirit because of the faithful love of Christie, my beloved, to me.
Happy fifteenth anniversary sweetheart. You are more beautiful to me than words can say. I still get tongue tied after all these years. I am blessed beyond measure by your faithful love to me. I am thankful that YOU are the mother of our children. I give thanks that you are my life partner in pursuing the mission of God. I praise God for the gift of you in my life. I ‘fall in love’ more and more all over again each and every day. Thank you for being my wife – my beloved.
Songs from our wedding:
Geoff Moore – If You Could See What I See
Michael W. Smith – The Other Side of Me