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Monday, October 25, 2010

Our anniversary

Today is my second wedding anniversary with John and it's time to make a confession. So here goes: When John and I were just dating, in fact, we had only been "officially dating" for a few weeks, I went through his stuff.  I mean, one day I volunteered to clean up the kids rooms while he was at work, and I used that time to basically play detective and get to know this guy I was dating. John was a single dad, and the house needed some organization and clean-up, but I had an ulterior motive.  You see, my first and very traumatic marriage had only been "over" a little more than a year. I was newly "single", but quite a different person from the 25-year old naive and trusting Melissa who had married the first time around too quickly. Five years of marriage to an absent alcoholic and cocaine-addicted man had hurt me in so many ways. During those five years I learned so much about myself, God, my family, and the dark parts of the world that I never knew existed while I lived inside a Baptist bubble for 25 years. Although my first "marriage" was painful and left deep scars, I would not trade the things that I have learned about people, myself, and my God, for any other experience. I have a deep appreciation for people in recovery, people who are staying sober and clean- and I have gratitude for those who helped me stay above the surface of a raging and turbulent river that almost took me under. So much about me changed because of my first marriage. At thirty years old, I was wise in things I just never expected to know about. So there was probably (honestly) a part of me that expected to find out some deep and troubling secret about John. Maybe it was self-preservation- trying to sabotage the relationship before it became serious and I was hurt again. And so I went through John's stuff and looked for hints of his "dark secrets" that might be somewhere hidden in the house.  Instead I found: cards that his children had made for him on Father's Day, artwork he had lovingly saved, memories he had preserved on film. I found receipts for contributions made to charities and the church. I found evidence of a hard-working and faithful man. And below piles of old bank statements and report cards, I found a card from his mom - given to him on a Father's Day the year before - the year when his own first marriage had deteriorated beyond repair. His mother's card told of John's integrity, and of her pride for a son who loved his family and was honest and decent and good. And that card was a turning point for me. I realized that there were in fact a few good men left. Men like my daddy, my grandaddys, my uncles, and some of the amazing and godly men that I knew at my church. God gave one of those men. He is patient, gentle, humble, loyal, a great listener and a wonderful friend. When I lost our baby last year, John was with me every step of the way, and he never made me feel like I was over-reacting. When I said "let's become foster parents! It's always been my dream!" John said: "Let's do it!" and we took 12 weeks of classes and worked for ten months to get our home ready for an evaluation. To watch John loving not only his own biological children, but other children in our home with a different racial background, different culture, different habits, and different personalities - has made me love him more. I cannot think of the right words to thank God for His timing, His creativity, and His grace towards me in giving me John as my husband. In spite of our own imperfections and pasts, God sees past all of these things and sees our hearts. He drew us together for His purpose and of that I am certain. Happy Anniversary, John! I love you so much!

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