Twenty years ago in the mountains of Tennessee I said “I do.” I could have never known what I was saying I would do. Almost three years in and two kids out we were separated. We agreed we needed a few weeks to think. But young love wasn’t enough to cover the hurt we had caused each other. After being separated for almost two years we divorced.

But our two little ones kept us connected. He invited me to dinner one night and we were married again three months later. On the same date of August 12th.

We both thought the worst was behind us. We moved to Texas to build a new life. Before we celebrated our second 1 year wedding anniversary we had our third child and things were good. We enjoyed living in Texas, but eventually moved back home after a company layoff.

The hard times came really hard. The most devastating of all came over a year ago. It almost destroyed us.

But we chose to stay. We didn’t choose to stay because we love each other. We love each other because we choose to stay. It’s hard work. It’s painful and awkward and tiring. God has made what we thought was impossible – done. We have experienced the freedom of giving and receiving forgiveness. God changed our hearts. He is changing our hearts.

Both times I said “I do” I didn’t give much thought to our 20th anniversary. It seemed so far away. I don’t think I would have expected it to be this way. But here we are fighting for our marriage, for our family. After twenty years we are learning to trust. We are learning how to love each other and we are getting better at it. I’m thankful that we are giving each other the chance to grow.

For our anniversary, 20th or 14th, if you count from the last time we were married, he wrote me a letter and I gave him a card. We’ll go out to dinner this weekend. Maybe. Hopefully. If not, we’ll have a really good conversation anyway. That’s something else we’re learning to do.

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:32