How far we have come since the day we said, "I do."
It is only because of the grace of a Heavenly Father who carried and pushed us through the difficult, frustrating, painful, sad, and sinful moments of marriage when we had neither the strength nor the desire to keep on going that we can declare with confidence, "I love you, and I am in this forever."
On our own, we would have given up many times.
On our own, we would have allowed outside pressures to destroy us as a couple.
On our own, we would have allowed selfishness and pride keep us from being faithful and committed to one another physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
On our own, our marriage would be a complete failure.
BUT GOD ...
Every day He pours new mercies over us.
He forgives our sins against one another and tosses them into the deepest part of the ocean
to be remembered no more.
He faithfully turns us from selfishness so we can serve each other instead of serving ourselves.
He continually holds up a mirror to show us who we really are, removing all blind spots, correcting our assumptions and pride so we can look at each other through clear, grace-filled eyes.
He loves us as we are so we can learn to love each other the same way.
We are not perfect.
We do not always respond to God's goodness immediately or with joy.
We do not always stop our ugly words before they tumble out of our mouths, nor do we run to each other with confessions and a plea for forgiveness every time we offend one another.
But we want to.
We desire to be a couple who draws others in, not because we are wonderful, but because they see something real, something honest, and something genuine about us.
What we want them to see - is Christ.
Which means each of us has to pursue Him like a drowning man gasping for a breath of air - with a relentless, all-consuming, singular focus - so that we look much more like Him than we look like us.
On our own, Dennis and I have nothing to offer each other but the most meager affection.
With Christ? The possibilities are endless.
Thank You, Dennis, for 24 years of loving an imperfect, selfish, rough-edged woman in need of much forgiveness and grace. You have served, comforted, corrected and rebuked, encouraged, supported, and challenged me in unique ways, and I know that I am better because of the way the Lord has used you to refine me day by day, year by year. I love you ~ Michelle