To the sturdy oaks

When I repeated my vows to Tim 5 years ago today, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Do we ever?

I have long been obsessed with trees. I sketch them on discarded napkins and torn scraps of paper, find excuses to paint them on multiple walls of my home, and take pictures I find on wine bottles, linen journals, or on the side of the road. To me trees are this brilliant display of glory in steadfastness, vibrance in the commonplace, and the breathtakingly beautiful amidst the mundane.

"For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others..." Such words so frequently rehearsed, so well known, so familiar, and yet did I have any idea what those words meant? No one told me how you will reach arguments, points of disagreement, total impasses where compromise let alone unity seems impossible. No one really explained how you willingly take on the weight of the other's sin and struggles, as they do yours, muddying and challenging the already intense process of sanctification that takes place in one alone. No one made it clear that marriage is a day in, day out fight for one another, in which relenting is not an option and maintaining the status quo is a myth. Then again, maybe they did, but I'm just starting to get it now.

Earlier this year, I gave Tim a painting that was as much for him as for me. I included our names, the date our marriage began, and our mantra we said over the course of our relationship. My favorite part, though, is the two trees I painted on the footing of the piece. Trees. Because trees are sturdy and not easily swayed. Trees are faithful, committed to growth, and not the kind you see overnight. Trees put down roots and weather storms. Trees go deep, soak in the good stuff, and spread their leaves wide to soak up warmth.

Someone told me recently to think of your marriage in terms of an age. Today, we turned 5. A precious, innocent child, true, but a young, inexperienced, dependent kid nonetheless. A kindergartner for Pete's sake.

So as much as I want to be, we are not old, gnarled, deep-rooted oaks yet, nor are we the fat-trunked, shade-giving ones that sit at the center of a park. We are just little pear trees, possibly with the cords tied around the stem to stakes in the ground, or maybe newly planted pines of the Charlie Brown Christmas order.

But those are the trees I painted. Those are the trees we are committed to become. So one day, I pray we will sit holding worn, gnarled fingers with 52 years of roots beneath us and really understand what those words mean.

Happy anniversary, babe. To the trees we are becoming-

I love you, Tim.