“It was much harder,” she recalled deep in thought, “then what either of us ever thought it would be at the beginning.” My wife was referring to marriage—and specifically to our marriage. This statement was made on the heels of our twentieth anniversary.
Today on May 12, 2021 we celebrated twenty years of marriage.
In hindsight, it certainly has been quite a journey. We learned early on in marriage that the ultimate purpose of God’s heart for marriage was not happiness, but holiness. In the early days of our courtship, I remember introducing Aneta to a wonderful couple, Ken and Mary Lou Hornby, who invested so much into my life as a young man. As we finished up the talk in the kitchen, Ken made what we deemed as an interesting observation: “You both are very different due to your cultural upbringing—as a result, there could be some difficulties along the way.”
Literally as we walked out the front door to the car, we both looked at each other with the comment on the tip of our tongue, “Why did he say we are different and that we could have some difficulties as a result?” As we drove off, we reaffirmed each other, “Oh, we’ll be just fine!”
Optimism certainly overflowed as we courted with the endless possibilities of what could be once we were married. Our excitement for the future set the stage for all the best possible scenarios that could play out in the years ahead. No mountain was too rugged to conquer. Nothing could possibly stop us.
In hindsight, my wise mentor was certainly prescient in his statement. Those differences were not intended to divide us, but rather unify us as we were conformed to the image of Christ. It took time. And it was certainly difficult. Over the years we finally learned to fight for covenant. There were moments when emotions flared up in the midst of an argument or feelings were frayed over old patterns on repeat.
We learned to aim higher. We determined to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7) as we fought for covenant. We chose to forgive. We chose to not take up an offense. We chose to bless in all situations. As we fought for covenant, we were conformed to the image of Christ in various aspects of our lives (Romans 8:29). The imperfections of our differences perfected us into holy vessels that reflected the fullness of our identity in Christ. In doing so, the difficult moments chiseled us into who we are today as we stand side-by-side, in covenant together before God.
Happy Anniversary, Aneta. I would not trade these two decades for anything else. The last five years have simply been the reward of what we sought to build together those first fifteen years. My heart is happy with you. You are the one I’m meant to be with. You are the one that I love. You are the one I cherish deeply as the love of my life.
I love you, Aneta!