Today is my and Jay’s 16th wedding anniversary. 16 years. Wow! In many ways, all good, it feels much longer than that. I may not have grown up planning my wedding and fantasizing about my dress but I did grow up longing to have a loving, actually cherished, relationship with a man from who I couldn’t stand to be apart. Whenever I daydreamed about that man I could never see his face but I always imagined he was quite taller than me. Let’s face it, that isn’t hard to do when you’re fun-sized like me!
Romantic relationships were hard for me. If I had to guess it was because I was, always it seemed, in male dominated communities. It was percussion as a musician and engineering as a career. Being in those situations didn’t bother me but I found myself being the friend instead of the girlfriend. During my freshman year at Purdue I dated a really nice Christian man for a couple of months. I was the one who broke it off. It truly was the “it’s me not you” reason. God kept laying it on my heart that I was in a season of life where I was to be single, focusing on getting to know myself and what He wanted for me. It was hard at first to be obedient to that calling because, let’s be honest, there were times I missed not having that kind of relationship. However, looking back, it was truly freeing. During college I went back and forth working in Houston for NASA and completing my mechanical engineering degree at Purdue. Upon graduating I chose to move to the east coast to work in the aviation industry on gas turbine engines. Had I been in a serious relationship I don’t know that I would have chosen either of those experiences. God meant for me to be free from those commitments so I could be free to make others that would move me closer to my ordained future.
Once in Connecticut I met a man named Jay Anderson early on and we became friends. When we eventually broke the ice and went from friends to dating a year and a half later it was so natural. We were hardly apart. I kept wondering when I would wake up from this dream. Here was a guy who was actually into me! Wow! We were talking marriage a month after dating, were engaged nine months later and married 11 months after that so that I could finish grad school.
So what can I say after 16 years together? I still feel like I am living a dream. One day I’ll wake up to find that this amazing man and these two most wonderful children weren’t real, weren’t mine. Why do I find it so hard to believe that I deserve this happiness, that yes Jesus loves me more than I can fathom AND I’m worthy of such human love? I think the answer is hidden right there in the difference of being God and being human. I know Jesus can do anything and so I believe He can love me, worts and all so to speak. But as humans we aren’t perfect, we judge, we find faults, we compare. When I judge myself and see my faults I have found it hard to love myself. Why would anyone else love me?
These 16 years haven’t been easy. No marriage is easy. But through our relationship I’ve learned to rely more on Jesus telling me of my worth rather than my husband. That is as it should be though. Jay is my helper and I am his. I love him and he loves me. He supports me and I support him. I forgive him and he forgives me. As an aside, the amount of forgiving he has done FAR outweighs mine. Not that I’m keeping count but just giving further proof to how amazing he is. Through our marriage I have come to love myself more because of Jay’s insistent love. We wholeheartedly agreed early on that Jesus created us for one another, that we were made to walk the rest of our lives together. Thankfully Jesus is walking this life with us. To Him and Jay I say this, “I found the one whom I love with all my heart. I held on to him and now I won’t let him go.” (Song of Solomon 3:4 CEB)