Last year I wrote about my 20th wedding anniversary. We almost didn’t make it to 20, but here I am a year later and here we are still making it.

Twenty-one years ago in the mountains of Tennessee I said “I do.”

August 12, 1994
August 12, 1994

I could never have known what I was saying I would do. Almost three years in and two kids out we 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 so after being separated almost two years we divorced.

Our two little ones kept us connected though. After three years of being apart, he invited me to dinner one night and we were married again three months later. On the same date as our original wedding – August 12th.

We both thought the worst was behind us. We moved to Texas to build a new life and before we celebrated our second 1 year wedding anniversary we had our third child. Things were really good. We enjoyed living in Texas for a couple of years but after a company layoff we moved back to our hometown.

The hard times came really hard. The most devastating of all came over two years ago. It almost destroyed us. Other trials came too. The kind not uncommon to others. The kind that comes with managing a household with 2 full-time jobs, raising 3 kids, and caring for aging parents. All of this while trying to stay connected.

The hard times hit but they didn’t beat us. We chose to stay.

We are choosing to stay.

We choose to stay because we love each other and 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 still changing our hearts.

Both times I said “I do” I didn’t give much thought to our 21st 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-one 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.

We wished each other a happy anniversary this morning. We kissed each other when I left for work. He has to work tonight so we will put off our anniversary dinner. Maybe we’ll go to dinner this weekend. Hopefully.

If not, we’ll have a really good conversation anyway. That’s something else we’re learning to do. We listen better now. We love each other more.

We’re getting better and better at this.

Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.

Ephesians 4:32 NCV