Dear someday husband,
This is not a love letter. Sorry. It’s not a letter in which I say gushy things about what I imagine you’ll be like, what you’ll look like, what our days will be filled with. I’m not blogging a letter to you about you at all, really. I imagine you, of course. I’m 22, and foolish, and a daydreamer. You should laugh at this, because you already know how much trouble it’s going to get me into. I will write you a love letter someday. But when I do, I will know who you are and what kind of toothpaste you use. I will know in what order you read the newspaper, and where you first felt at home away from home. I will have made it through the fear that you will walk away. I will write you a letter about you, and all the gushy things about how love changes us, and the good and terrifying thing it is to love and be loved by you. But not right now.
I’m writing to you because my sister is getting married tomorrow and in the midst of planning my toast to her and her husband, I thought about marriage. I thought about what makes it beautiful, what makes it mysterious. I thought about what makes it worth doing. Last summer I was in a wedding, and I wrote about the delight I saw in my friend’s face as she woke up the morning of her wedding and realized that she was going to unite her life with his, that they were going to become one.
I see that same joy in my sister now. I see her smile like she’s never smiled before, smile in the safety of her husband, smile in the wonder of him and them and the family they begin tomorrow. I see two people who gather around each other, with prayers and hopes fluttering in a great cloud, and I see love there. Jesus has come to this wedding feast, too.
I’m going to be tough to marry. I am fiercely independent and yet desperate to be known. I fight more than is good for me, but I want to be peaceful. I am stubborn. The notion of grace, the kind that’s free and deep and that really forgets sin and hurt and mistakes (not conveniently files them away to use in a fight later)? I’m not good at that. I am impatient. I talk too much. I trust this world by flinging my heart open but at the first sign of trouble I am a skittish colt running for the hills.
I want to tell you this up front. Marrying me will be hard work. I would say sorry but I’m not really sorry, in the end, because marrying you is the same hard work and it is the kind of good that outweighs hard. My sister and her husband have the same hard work in front of them.
They make promises tomorrow. These promises are heavy, filled with love and commitment, filled with the energy of a thousand hot air balloon hopes. I will cry. I cry every time I hear a couple promise that they will love and cherish and be faithful in all things, until they are parted by death. I cry every time I hear someone take their name, and take the other person’s name, and in one sentence bind them together.
Marriage is a mystery, someday husband. Marriage is a great and daily obedience, the kind that takes everything we’ve got and then more. The kind that between my stubbornness, and your stubbornness, between my picking fights and your withdrawal, between that trip to Rome and the huge fight in the airport parking lot after that trip to Rome – will be a miracle.
I am going to walk down the aisle tomorrow, in a blue dress and borrowed shoes and hair someone did for me. I am going to pray as I go that I learn my sister’s courage, her grace, her wisdom. I am going to pray that she is filled with joy, the kind that aches and ages and lasts through everything, even what is unknown. I am going to watch her delight, and share in it.
And when you and I are sitting in a kitchen somewhere, silent and reproachful, the oven still smoking from whatever I told you I would make for dinner, I will read this to you. (Just promise not to laugh too hard at everything I get wrong. Okay?)
I will remind us that marriage is a great and daily obedience. I will remind us that it is a miracle and a mystery. I will look at pictures of my sister’s wedding and remember that when I was twenty-two, when I was at the very beginning, I learned love from watching my sister make a new family. And it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
I will remember that I wished for nothing less for us, nothing but the gut-wrenching beautiful work this is.
And I will ask you to forgive me for being so hard to be married to. And I will forgive you for the same thing. And I will look over at you across the burned dinner and laugh. Promise me you’ll laugh too? And in our marriage, however far away, we will become a family.
hilary (your someday wife)