On one hand, it’s hard to believe that Jesse and I have been married for 8 years (together for 11!). And then, it also feels like longer than that. In my mind, we’ve always been together.
My entire adult life has been spent together with Jesse. We started dating when I was 17, just 6 weeks into my first year of college at Biola University. Sure, I have a few stories of going on a couple initial dates with other guys, a few GYRADS here and there. And then there were 2 miserable weeks in which we were broken up (thanks for that smart idea, 18 year old self!). I used to regret that I never had a chance to “grow” on my own, that I never had a chance to grow into my own “person” before starting a relationship with someone 3 years older.
Looking back, however, I just feel grateful. I’ve made no secret of the fact that at 17 years old, I was not headed down a great path. I’d just gotten done with a toxic relationship, one in which I was reeling from for months. I was desperate for attention. I was self-obsessed, drowning in my own grief and issues. It was a time when all I knew were heartbroken quotes. I had an on and off again eating disorder that was waiting in the wings every time my perfectionism reared it’s ugly head. I was already in hundreds of dollars of credit card debt due to my out of control spending habits.
Looking back, I think that God loved me so much that he knew I needed someone to help. Someone other than my parents that I would listen to. Someone that I would admire enough that I would want him to respect me back. Someone who loved me enough to risk my wrath and help me to change. Someone I would want to change for.
When we were still just friends, I remember the first day I knew that Jesse would always be my safe place, the one that God had put on this earth for me to run to. I had just gotten one of “those” phone calls, where something tragic has occurred and you know your life will never be the same. One of my best friends back home had died, and I was reeling in shock. Jesse had also just found out, and he immediately ran all over campus looking for me. We saw each other from across the lawn, and he held me while I cried and cried. The world was reeling around, but the moment he held me the spinning stopped and everything slowed back down.
When I look back, I see how very different my life would’ve been without Jesse, and it scares me. Sure, I might have figured it all out eventually, but I have seen many who are still miserable and trying, well into their 30s. I am glad that my path was different– shorter time in which to change, more intense, loud arguing (anyone who has witnessed a Jesse/Kelly fight knows what I’m talking about!). But, in many respects, it got done. All of the hard work Jesse and I did those first tumultuous years of dating paid off.
If I hadn’t learned what I did, I don’t think I would’ve had the patience to parent a teenage girl at the ripe old age of 26. Or four boys at 27. Or move across the country THREE times. Or endure a grueling house hunt/buying experience. Or support him through grad school.
God used all of that arguing to grow me into someone He wanted to use for His kingdom. I know for a fact that Jesse was the instrument by which God fashioned me. I learned to take serious things lightly, and I learned to care deeper about those things which endure. I learned how to protect someone’s heart other than my own. I learned what it means to address those deep and scary flaws within the context of a loving friendship.
Thank you, Jesse, for being the best friend that I can share everything with, good, bad, gross, hysterical, tragic and momentous. You are a wonderful father to our two boys, and you are the spiritual head of our home. I am so grateful that you found my messed up teenage self and decided to look past all that and love me. Thank you for being a safe place for me to run to.
4 Year Anniversary