Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Birthiversary, Fifteen Years!

I wrote this post on our tenth anniversary and I would write it all again, today, on our fifteenth. If anything were different, however, it would be that the last five years have been kinder to us than the first ten. There have been many, many blessings and many joys. God has been very good to us. I feel as though what He cut roughly in the first decade of our marriage, He has been carving out the detail work on and polishing in the last five. We've suffered some, too, of course but even our hardships have had joys, or maybe I've just learned better how to look for them. Either way, I consider myself a very lucky woman to be standing by this man's side surrounded by our soon-to-be seven sons.

(Is this the ear you can't hear on?) I love you, Jeremy Temple, and I'm going to love you 'til the day I die.*


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 hardships particular 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.

*Reference to It's A Wonderful Life
Photograph: taken by my sister, Helene.

13 comments:

Barb, sfo said...

Happy anniversary!

PWadleigh said...

Beautifully said. :-)

Ana Braga-Henebry said...

My favorite film. Caught the reference without footnote. Congratulations!

Donna said...

Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary- this is so, so beautiful. I thank God that you have eyes to see these things- it blesses us all. And I didn't realize that #7 was a boy- congratulations! Still blessed among men!

Cheryl M. said...

Happy Birthday, Suzanne and Happy Anniversary to you both! Hugs!

Emily G. said...

Wow, I remember reading that post the first time you published it. It is much more meaningful to me now. After three and a half years of marriage and soon to be three children, I understand it much better.

Happy Birthday, Suzanne, and Happy Anniversary to you both. Wishing you many more years of happiness together.

Right Said Red said...

Beautiful post! Happy Birthday and a Happy Anniversary!

Margaret in Minnesota said...

Happy Birthiversary to a beautiful couple! (Can I say that to the both of you? Given that half of this special occasion is yours alone?)

John & I celebrate our 16th tomorrow and can relate to so much of what you say in this post. It's beautiful in the telling, isn't it? It is, indeed, a wonderful life.

Meg said...

Congratulations!

May I tell you what a joy it is to see your beautiful faces upon your wedding day, multiplied by all of that love and sacrifice mentioned in your post... and producing such a beautiful, happy family?

I am a young woman of 25, still hoping and praying for the right man to come along that will be the Son of St. Joseph that your husband has been to you. I'll take that naive bride and all of the revelations in store for her - hopeful to learn the death to self and unconditional love as you have learned. Thank you for being a great example.

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Jeannine said...

What an incredibly lovely bride you made, and I daresay you don't look a day older in your current pictures!

Oh, and a naive bride radiates so much purity and innocence, unlike a jaded bride.

Thank you for sharing your life with your many boys...blessings to you!

Days with the Dalrymples... said...

And, now i'm crying! This is absolutely beautiful! thank you for sharing your heart. XOXOX