Today, Candice and I celebrate our 8th Wedding Anniversary, and I'm genuinely most thankful...
In all honestly, I think it would be safe to say most people didn't give us much of a chance to make it past 2 years, but I do understand where they might have been coming from with such a pessimistic forecast. Candice was just short of 20 years old, and I almost doubled that. Aside from that facts of time, no other reason for our marriage not working would have fallen with her. If only I could have said the same...
I will also confess that despite the relative few trips she had completed around the sun, Candice was far more mature in most areas of life than I was at near twice her age. I don't say that very easily either. There's a great deal of shame and humiliation that comes with that confession, but as I stated earlier, there's also a great deal of appreciation that offsets the former.
Looking back over the past 8 years, I know I've grown up quite a bit. While I might have been well into needed changes when I married the love of my life in 2004, God was still working on me in a number of spiritual areas. I was hungry and anxious to serve Him but boy was I unrefined and green. He knew exactly what I needed to help keep me on His intended path...just like He knew what Adam needed in the garden so long ago.
I know this might be coming across as syrupy or even melodramatic, but I believe in my heart that Candice saved my very life and in a number of ways. My path was on a fast-track to self-destruction. Also, I'm not sure I had the intestinal fortitude to endure the scare of cancer and a few other extreme trials encountered as she came into the picture. Cowardice is never an easy thing to admit and can often be found disguised as a seeming noble gesture or graceful exit. It's still cowardice even under those window dressings.
There is an enormous amount of gratitude in that last paragraph accompanied by a certain degree of remorse. She didn't ask for (or cause) any of the trials we endured early in our relationship and could have easily walked away. There were nights I prayed she would to make it easier for me. I told you I've grown up a lot.
My wife committed to her words 'for better or worse' in front of God Almighty. She locked her answer in, and He knew she was strong enough through her faith in Him to weather the early storms. I praise and thank God for Candice daily. She is the soul of our family. The anchor in matters of both virtue and serenity. The model mother to all three of my daughters...even the one she didn't birth.
My love for her is second only to my love for God, and she helped teach me that's the way He designed it to be. My trust in her is complete and unlike any other person I've known or ever will know. At times in my life, I've jokingly spewed the line love you so much it hurts...she makes that statement real for me. Not hurt as a matter of pain. I just never want to be separated from her and hold to the belief that God made marriage a divine institution because He gives us the opportunity to make our betrothal an eternal union.
Even that doesn't seem long enough.
Happy Anniversary my love...forever and for always I will be in love with you.