I recently pulled out my wedding DVD with my bridal images, our wedding images and these lovely gems, our engagement photos. These images were taken almost 8 years ago in Little Rock by a dear friend of ours. They are dear to my heart for many reasons. When I look back at these images at first I notice how much skinner I look - how depressing. At first glance I might, I might say, "Wow, my teeth look so white! I need to cut back on the coffee!" I might even notice that my Buie is a few pounds lighter in these photos, too (sorry babe) but none of those things matter. At first glance, I thought, "oh I remember that shirt! I wonder where it is...not that I could fit in it anymore..."
Despite the physical changes we have gone through since these pictures were taken, when I look at these images taken just a couple months before we were married, it reminds me of the beginning...when everything was fresh and new. It reminds me that I had no clue what love was. Yes, we look blissfully happy like someone spiked our morning coffee or perhaps we were just drunk in love as Beyonce would say. While I'm pretty sure our friend, Christen, just said something funny to make us laugh, it's still nice to think about how excited we were to be planning our wedding. (And I must mention that my mom did everything. So thanks, mom.) While we had already been together for 3 years at this point, conquered a breakup and been a part while I traveled to not one but two different countries... we were still in the beginning of love.
What I have learned about love in the last 10+ years is that LOVE is not what I thought love was at all. Love is not a white horse or climbing up a balcony or a red single rose glittering in the spotlight or dancing the night away at a ball and loosing your slipper. Love is not some crazy romantic proclamation of affection in some grand place with fireworks going off in the background and your own 4 string quartet playing and an audience cheering in the background. Love isn't even finding your soulmate or finding "the one" that was meant for you. I know this is debatable for some so let's just move on, shall we? :)
Love is a decision to put someone in your life and continually walk beside them hand in hand no matter what life throws your way. Love is a sacrifice. Love is the hardest thing I have ever done. Love is getting up every single day and forgetting yourself and your selfish instinct. Love is holding your hair back while your throwing up. Love is checking a tick bite in places you can't reach or even see! :) Love is bringing you home your favorite snack because you'd had a horrible day. Love is watching Project Runway instead of your twelfth football game of the day because you know it's your wife's favorite. ;) Love is forgiving before the other one even say they're sorry. Love is sometimes so ugly, it's beautiful. Do you know what I mean? Love is no makeup, no shaving, no showering for a week and still falling helplessly in each others arms because that is the only place that feels like home.
Another thing I have learned is that I may be THE most stubborn person on the face of this planet... No, seriously. When we got married it was a major wake up call to me how selfish and stubborn I am...and still am. Well, we are BOTH pretty stubborn. ;) But it's been almost 8 years of learning to give and take, learning HOW to communicate with each other and learning how to sacrifice and possibility even letting the other be right every now and then. ;)
So when I look at the these images now, I don't see how we've changed physically, although we have and we will continue to grow old together. I don't see a giddy engaged couple ready to tie the knot. I see how much our LOVE has grown over the past 10+ years (including our dating years). I love this man more this morning than I did yesterday morning. The difference? Everyday I wake up and pray for our marriage, I pray for me, I pray for him, I pray for our future children (if God's chooses to bless us with any). I choose to love him every day. He is the best roommate I could ask for. He is the best movie partner, jeopardy teammate, dog dad, best friend that I could ask for. Some times I don't always *like* him (and I KNOW he would say the same) but I will always wake up and *choose* him. Every single day.
That, to me, is love.