One year ago today I saw the most beautiful sight that I have ever seen. I stood in a room of family and friends, but felt as if I was on that stage all alone. Just watching. Just waiting. Watching and waiting for that bright ray of glorious light to make her way to me. She was the most beautiful bride I had ever seen. Because she was mine. I took her hands. I held her eyes. I vowed my life, my love, and received the same from her. I kissed her. I smiled. As I reflect on walking down the altar and out of the sanctuary last year hand-in-hand with my bride, I can only seem to think of one thing…we haven’t let go and we haven’t stopped walking.
We have been walking hand-in-hand since the day we committed our lives to one another. We have been overwhelmed with a flood of divine grace that has brought us to our one year anniversary. And as I think back on this year, the greatest year of my life to date, I must admit that I have learned a lot. And my God and my bride have taught me.
I have learned that things do not always turn out the way I plan. That’s just how God and Erica are.
I have learned that when you try to start a lawnmower when it is out of oil, bad things can happen.
I have learned that when you leave clothes in a washing machine for 24 hours, they often smell worse than when they were first put in.
I have learned that cooking is Erica’s job. Setting the smoke alarm off is evidently not in any recipe.
I have learned that when helping your wife clean the house, it is best to actually help!
I have learned that cars can break down and fixing them is expensive.
I have learned that just because I clean my plate during dinner, doesn’t mean I don’t have to clean it after.
I have learned that the only part of a basketball game that really matters is the end, so why not nap through the rest of it?
I have learned that I can be wrong (a lot).
I have learned that holding hands is like touching stars.
I have learned that hugs are sometimes better than words.
I have learned that movies are okay, but kissing is better.
I have learned that salty tears can taste so sweet when kissed after streaming down her tender face.
I have learned that sleeping on the floor when your bed hasn’t arrived to your house is the best night’s sleep you can find.
I have learned that true warmth doesn’t come from a heating unit, but from being tangled up with Erica under four or five blankets.
I have learned what true support looks like.
I have learned that complementarian marriage roles are never as simple as “you clean the dishes while I cut the grass.”
I have learned joy.
I have learned that her smile makes me weak.
I have learned that I have a lot to learn about love.
I have learned that it is okay to open up to the one whose care and love for you is as deep as the ocean.
I have learned that leading my wife does not always mean being right, but always means loving right in grace and truth.
I have learned that I love to hear my wife pray.
I have learned that her sleeping is the perfect rhythm to my prayers over her.
I have learned that bunnies, frogs, crickets, stray cats and dogs, and even worms are all beautiful (but not spiders).
I have learned that reading a book is never the same after being in the sun, under a tree, with her.
I have learned that worshiping God with my wife can be silent. “Just hold me and look at that sky.” Wow. God is big.
I have learned that sometimes staying in bed is more important than being on time.
I have also learned that being on time is more important than I previously thought.
I have learned that I want to know her more deeply every day.
I have learned that it is not as important to know what is ahead, as it is to know we will never leave each other along the way.
I have learned that the gospel invades every corner of our marriage. And I love it.
I have learned that when I lose sight of the beauty of the gospel, I can be ugly.
I have learned that when I sin and repent, my wife forgives.
I have learned that grace is hard.
I have learned that humility is harder.
I have learned.
The Lord and Erica have taught me all of these things and many more. However, I still have a lot more to learn. We married young, so we lack experience in many areas. But the decision to learn and experience all that God has for us together is most precious to us both.
Our marriage during this first year has been full of many small godly risks. We have risked a lot, but we are finding that they are all more than worth it. I know that as we continue to walk hand-in-hand in the years to come we will face many larger risks; in fact we pray that we will. But I know that I can face any risk for the God’s global glory in Christ fearlessly because of the grace of God and the woman he has placed at my side.
Your heart reminds me of another bold risk-taking woman. When Esther was faced with the prospect of risking her life for the salvation of God’s people, she stood resolved: “Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law,and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). It is this same resolve in you that challenges me daily and keeps me focused and prepared for any task God assigns to us. The Esther-like resolve in your heart to go anywhere and do anything for the advancement of the gospel, the glory of God, and the joy of all peoples is the most beautiful thing about you. It is this that is the radiance that shines from you everyday. The delight I find in you is only surpassed by the delight we both find in Christ. Thank you for being my light, my joy, and my love. By God’s keeping grace, may we never let go. May we never stop walking. As long as we both shall live.
ου μη σε ανω
Mathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies, Dec. ’14). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY. with his wife Erica.