I wonder what would happen if everyone had a chance to read the warning label before we made life decisions.
The day of my wedding my warning label might have read: “Congratulations. You are young and in love. Enjoy the calm before the storm, for the years ahead won’t always be kind to you. In fact, they will be brutal. Yes, you’ll experience triumphs, but you’ll also come to know the darkest tragedies. Though you won’t mean to, you will make choices that hurt each other and yourselves. You will fail at a business before you succeed and while you've failed you’ll find yourselves searching the couch to find enough quarters to pay for diapers. You will struggle, and you will be afraid. At some point, you’ll wonder if you're capable of anything at all. You will come to know the darkest storm clouds and your wilderness will be vast and deep. Your heartstrings will be wrenched and pulled until you can no longer stand. You will have a child that will die, and you will fall to your knees and weep until your knees are broken and worn. Pain and struggle will be your teacher. And that’s just the beginning.”
Yet, next to the warning, I would have also read a benefits label: “Take heart. Though you may feel alone, you will not be, not ever. Your Father will be with you – for He is your tutor and all that will happen will be for your good. You will have a family and come to know a love you scarcely comprehend on your own. That love you will come to feel for your children will be but a speck compared to the love your Father has for you. At one point you’ll finally understand that to know the love of family is to know a little more about God, for we are all His children. Your tears of joy and sorrow will become a lens to your eyes and you will begin to see things you didn't before. Your heart will grow and feel more love and joy than you can imagine. Like a heavenly constellation, you will begin to see the tender mercies poured out upon your lives by a loving Father - however, you will only see those stars in the pitch of night. You will make connections between them and eventually see the hand of God through everything. And that’s just the beginning.”
Today marks our 21st anniversary. On that cool September day, I married my wife, I had no idea the journey that lay before our feet. I’ll never forget crying as the officiator spoke, not out of sorrow but out of a deep sense something was being put in motion – more than I knew. All I knew was I loved my wife and it was good. I knew I would be imperfect, but I would do my best. My love for this good woman has only grown stronger and deeper. I consider myself blessed beyond measure.
Today, as I look back upon the 21 years we've had together, knowing the depths of horror and the heights of happiness – I wouldn't trade my life for anything. Between the hurt and the happiness, I have come to know a different kind of love – and for that love I am grateful. I would do it all over again. To infinity and beyond, I would do it all over again.
And to think that today I can no more read the warning and benefits labels for tomorrow.
Today is just the beginning.