We had no idea what to expect when we said those two words, 12 years ago. We fully believed them in that moment, but we didn't know really what they meant.
We didn't know that they would mean "I do" take you even when death swallows up two of our friends within a few weeks of one another when our covenant was still new and we were both suffering and had yet to figure out the best way to carry one another along.
That on the heels of a family crisis that would send ripples through the years and can still be felt, "I do" meant even when we disagreed about how to handle the family we would choose each other. And when roots of bitterness would threaten to choke out a relationship with them, and we could go red in the face on our sides of the fence, we would say "I do" to one another again and again at the end.
"I do" sounds simple before you find yourself with a brand new baby who was born just early enough to need extra help, and once home cries and spits up everything he eats and in one fell swoop you're a walking zombie, and one half of the couple is squishy and dripping and downright lost in this new season.
Those two words mean something altogether different after you lose a baby. When you face head on, a new kind of grief that doesn't play by any rules and affects you both differently. You can either turn into one another at night or turn away. We chose to turn in, to say "I do" even when I don't believe God is good in that fleeting moment when pain makes you numb. Some crawl out on the other side, limping and some crawl out stronger. You carried me until I could walk again.
Two words, and then two more babies. Two more boys who would turn the tables on how we do anything, and continue to keep us on our tip toes and show us how helpless we are, without each other, without Him front and center.
Cancer. Heart surgery. Job drama. Divorce. It's sent us reeling and clinging to one another.
I am learning, now 12 years in- that "I do" is spoken every day.
When you do the dishes after a long day at work because it just didn't happen even though I never left the house. When I make a warm meal when all I wanted to do was take a nap or when the kids were sick and I don't think I ever brushed my teeth. When you bring me home a coffee because you know now, that it speaks love more than a bouquet of flowers (although I like those too thank you) and when I scoop the poop and watch sci-fi with you.
It's how you love my family and how you lay down your life every day for me and the boys.
It's how I don't go ape-crazy on your biggest critics at church and how I still manage a smile...sometimes.
I say I do when you make me so mad and yet I know deep down, your soul at the depth and I remember who you are, and that makes me rethink how I perceived your words or actions.
Some say we over-communicate and over-feel...but I think that's why every year gets better and every year we grow closer and every day I can't wait for you to walk in the door because you still light me up within. We feel it all, and we feel it all together and that has made us fused from the deepest places and all the way through.
I'm squishier now and you have a lot less hair. You have more gray in yours, but I have found a few.
I'd rather stay home with you and a bowl of popcorn than get dressed up and go out.
I'd rather stay home with the boys even though I'm at the end of myself, then take off for a week because I miss the crazy.
When we said "I do" we meant it. We didn't know what it would mean, but we meant it.
You are a different person today than when I married you. You are more patient, more selfless, more confident. I loved you then and I love you now and I love who you will be 10 years from now.
"I do" meant something entirely different back then.I think that's the wonderful mystery of marriage. You don't quite know what you're getting into...but if you choose each other daily, it doesn't really matter- so long as you keep saying "I do".
And so, tomorrow and the next and a thousand days from now- I do.