Thursday, December 28, 2006

It's My Birthiversary Day!

Ten years ago, today, I turned twenty-three and married the love of my life.


A less scanned-looking version of this photograph is on display in our home and there have been many times in the last ten years, when things were hard, that I have paused in front of this photograph, gazed at the unsuspecting smile of the young woman pictured there and thought to myself, "Naive, naive, naive."

And certainly I was naive. My whole married life was ahead of me. Hearth, home, children--it was all to come. My hopes and dreams were as vibrant as my youthful imagination and stood, as yet, unchecked by any reality. There were no hardships, no disappointments, no sacrifices on that day when I made those vows to love for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad.

It was later that the hardships came and they were certainly not of the worst variety-- just the usual struggles of a young couple trying to live a life of faith...trying to live in the world but not be of it... and perhaps a few additional hardships peculiar to us that God has asked us to endure.

If this is the worst of it, if this is my path to heaven--suffering with those I love, surrounded by them, and most often for the sake of them-- then I'll be the first to say that His yoke is easy and His burden, light.

Still, there have been times when I have envied the young woman in this photograph. As life has chipped away at my plans here, there at my hopes, and again at my self-vision...I have found it hard to let go of my ideals. There have been many times when I have wished I could stand as radiant and as hopeful as the young woman in this photograph stands.

But I have also learned that, for all her radiance, she is naive in more ways than one. There are indeed many things that she does not know...

She does not know the humiliations of gestating, the pains of labor, or the constraints of nursing, it is true...
...but nor does she know the joy of carrying a secret life inside her, the triumph of childbirth, or the pride of providing sole nourishment for another human person.

She does not know how much one can die to self without actually dying, I know...
...but nor does she know the life of love that is born of that sacrifice.

She does not know that humility is draining and bottomless...
...but nor does she know the peace of letting go and the dignity of being filled up by God.

She does not know how overwhelmed she will be or how inadequate she will feel...
...but nor does she know the courage she will have or the occasions to which she will rise.

She does not know that she probably won't accomplish everything she hopes to...
...but nor does she know the value of what she will accomplish.

She does not know how much the man beside her will change...
..She has no idea what a loving, kind, and appreciative husband he will prove to be. She does not know that she could not have chosen a more devoted father for her children or more perfect partner for life. Though she loves him with all the depths of her heart, she does not know that the trials of life will make her heart grow deeper and thus, ten years later, she will love him even more profoundly.

So it is that the older I get, the less envious I am of the young woman in this photograph and the more she becomes a sweet symbol of youthful idealism and unblemished hope. God bless her, dear thing. For her, I wish a life as rich as mine.

(Photograph: taken by my sister, Helene.)

32 comments:

Rebecca said...

This is such a beautiful post, Suzanne. Happy Birthday and Anniversary to a very special woman!

Cheryl said...

This is beautiful. I especially like the paragraph about the man in the picture changing...
Happy Anniversary! oh and Happy Birthday too.

Love2Learn Mom said...

Great post! Happy Birthday and Anniversary.

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

Happy Birthday and Anniversary - my youngest (so far, I hope) shares this birthday with you - he's six!

God Bless You and your sweet spouse!

Cheryl said...

Happy Birthday Dear Suzanne! and Happy Anniversary to both of you! What a beautiful post. :)

Kristen Laurence said...

Suzanne, this is beautiful. I hope you have a very happy birthday and anniversary, dear friend!

Suzanne said...

This is so wonderful. I have had those "naive, naive, naive" thoughts too as I looked at my wedding picture. You, my dear blogger, have just written what I could never sort out or have put into words. So lovely!

Dawn said...

Suzanne, this post is so lovely and you are a beautiful bride!! Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us and may God bless you on your special day and always!

Ruth said...

That is so beautiful. Happy Anniversary and a wonderful birthday.

God bless.

Michelle said...

Very lovely post. May the next decade be as glorious as the first.

Melissa said...

Happy birthday and anniversary! God bless you today and always!

Jamie said...

Happy Birthday and anniversary!! God Bless you!! I loved what you wrote. My husband and I just celebrated our 10th anniversary last Wednesday, and I too, often look at our youthful wedding picture and think "Oh, what she is missing!" Have a wonderful day, The Feast of the Holy Innocents, also my parents 38th Anniversary!!

Lisa said...

Beautiful post! Have a great anniversary and very happy birthday!

Margaret in Minnesota said...

Happy Birthiversary, dear Suzanne! This post is every bit as beautiful as the young woman in the photo.

May God's richest blessings be yours, today and always! You are in our prayers.

Christine said...

Happy birthday and anniversary!

Cathy said...

Happy birthday and anniversary, Suzanne! May God continue to bless you.

Ann Horan said...

Suzanne, thank you for this post. I am about to celebrate my 11th in two days. I tend to think too much about the things we have not accomplished and where I wish we were instead of where we are. But really, it is not the trappings of our life that really count, it's the insides, the relationships and the love, especially that born of suffering that are what I should be reflecting on. I appreciate the poignant reminder.

Happy Birthday and Anniversary!

Lillian said...

What a beautiful post! You've truly been blessed with a wisdom from above. God's blessings on you and your marrriage! Happy Anniversary!

~m2~ said...

you are beautiful inside and out -- happy everythingday to you :)

Angela Pfister said...

Happy Birthday, Suzanne, and Happy Anniversary to you and Jeremy! May God richly bless and keep you in the years to come.

(As an aside, it has been a delight to read your blog - your writing is beautiful and inspiring, and it is wonderful to see the latest happenings of your lovely family. (I fondly remember when you and Jeremy visited the school and Simeon was just a wee one.))

Mary Ellen Barrett said...

What a beautiful tribute to a life well lived. You are an inspiration.

I am trying not to be annoyed at how young you are :-)

I hope you have a lovely day!

Cay said...

What a radiant, classic bride you made.

This post is a thing of beauty, Suzanne. Thanks for sharing.

And Happy Birthday! Happy Anniversary! God Bless!

Jennifer said...

Happy birthday/anniversary. That photo is gorgeous. Congratulations.

Erin said...

Suzanne, Everyone else's comments have said all that I have thought of. Congratulations and I will make sure to add in some prayers for you, Jeremy and the family tonight.

God Bless, Erin Caughron

Goslyn said...

Ah Suzanne, you always have the most beautiful and poignant posts. Happy birthaversary to you, and may you have many, many more.

Tanya said...

You wrote this piece so beautifully. Really enjoyed reading. Happy birth/anniversary to you.

Alice Gunther said...

Suzanne, I love you and think you are just too great for words. What a beautiful, perfect, sensitive post.

Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary to a woman who is every bit as lovely now as she was then--only now her beauty is framed by those five adoring sons!!! Please pass along my Congratulations to your dh too!

Karen E. said...

Happy anniversary, birthiversary and happy rest-of-your-very-blessed life! What a beautiful post and a beautiful tribute to marriage.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthiversary to you! I love this post so much! I think it has become my all-time favorite post. So beautifully written and so very true. Thank you so much for sharing.

Gabrielle said...

Many congratulations, Suzanne, to a truly beautiful person, wife, mom and writer. You are one-of-a-kind special.

Jane Ramsey said...

Suzanne, this is so beautiful, and so true! Marriage and motherhood shapes us in so many ways we could have never imagined...you expressed that so well.
Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday!
Jane

forget me not said...

Great post, and congratulations Suzanne. You are a special person indeed.