a few sundays ago, we were at a coffee house before church. i was holding ellie & so, as i often do, i set my wallet on the counter as i opened it to pay for our lattes & scones. the woman working looked down at the photo of us on our wedding day & said, "that's a beautiful photograph." i thanked her & told her what an encouragement it was to me each time i opened my wallet.
she told me that a few weeks earlier an older gentleman had opened his wallet to reveal a wedding photograph of his wedding day, many years ago. she had complimented him as well & he'd responded by saying how much he loved "his beautiful wife."
the conversation stuck with me -- i was thinking that after forty plus years of marriage, it's not just physical beauty that keeps you in a marriage or makes you want to have a photograph of your wedding day in your wallet or leads you to say that about your wife to a stranger -- it has to be so much more than that. that man has clearly been in a beautiful marriage -- a marriage that has weathered the storms of life, the seasons that push your vows beyond where you thought they could go -- he has been loved in a way that has endured. i find myself wanting to meet his wife -- to ask her about marriage & how she's lived our her vows.
the photograph of our wedding day is an encouragement to me not because of that day, however wonderful it was, but because of what that day began. the vows we took, the covenant we made, the journey we commenced. and how much every day since then has meant to me -- the real work of marriage. i look at the photograph & am struck by the versions of us who chose to be on this adventure & how much my love for ryan has grown since then. the love i felt the moment that photograph was taken (i really do remember that exact moment of the day) has deepened in ways i couldn't have imagined. & for that i'm so very grateful.