A few weeks ago, my mom dropped off a lot of junk from my old room in her house–mostly a collection of journals, yearbooks, scrapbooks, art projects, etc. I went down memory lane a little bit tonight (always a dangerous thing to do) and was actually a little bit surprised at what I found.
Before I got married, I pretty much saw life as pre-Jesus, post-Jesus. My life came to a dramatic halt when Jesus got a hold of my heart and it’s been a long, hard, beautiful journey ever since. But now, I look at pictures and see pre-marriage Anne, post-marriage Anne. Or, Anne Durham and Anne Wilson.
There’s this piece of marriage that not very many women talk about, and when they do, it’s difficult to define. It’s almost the “problem with no name” Betty Friedan so eloquently wrote about so many years ago, except that–it doesn’t feel like a problem, per se, just an experience that’s hard to identify. It’s the loss of an identity, but saying that makes it sound bad. It’s not bad–it’s just… a loss. A loss of a last name is only the beginning of it, of course. With that comes the loss of independence, the loss of freedom (in a good way), the loss of being… well, Anne Durham.
Not that Kyle forced me into taking his name, it was something I chose. I don’t want our kids being those kids that are constantly confused about why mommy couldn’t just be like the other moms and go with it. And on top of that, for me, I saw no reason to get married if I was going to continue on in my independence–I could do that well enough being single.
Good ole Solomon did say that the test of true friendship is like iron and iron–shaping and growing one another in the most honest (and brutal) way. And although I have not personally put the two together, I can only imagine that when iron meets iron, some sparks fly. Looking through pictures of “pre-married Anne” and “post-married Anne” tonight, I could actually see a difference in my eyes. Anne Durham, the one that thought she knew everything there was to know (and then some) about the world and people, the girl that accepted a year-long internship five states away before asking her long-term boyfriend (that she planned on marrying) how that would affect him, the girl who decided to graduate/get a full-time job/get married in the same semester (and saw no reason why that might be problematic), the girl who would’ve believed she could push a whole bus by herself if she had to, and well quite frankly the girl who ran 150mph through life just because she could.
And I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about that girl. But marriage did.
I know this will not surprise anyone, but I was pretty naive about marriage before heading into it. I didn’t think I was, of course. Even eight pre-marital counseling sessions later, I was still so oblivious. Life was all about me and my plan, my dream, my vision. I can remember thinking–while planning that whole graduation/job/wedding business, that I could handle it because a wedding wasn’t going to change much for us. Sure, we were going to now be living in the same place, which had never happened. Sure, there were quite a few physical changes about to take place, but lots of people go through that, right? Sure, Kyle and I had been dating for three years, what else was there to know (this makes me laugh out loud just writing it)? Sure, it’s no big deal to get married on a Saturday and drive two hours back to school on a Monday. Marriage doesn’t change that much, just my last name and well… just about everything.
A week after we got married, in between drives to Cincinnati and Indianapolis, I can actually remember sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops in Northern Kentucky thinking to myself, “My life is actually going to be different when I go back.” That sounds so silly when I say it aloud, but seriously, I thought that. Thinking about coming home to a husband instead of an empty room, planning out meals so that we could spend quality time together at the dinner table, and well just about every circumstantial/intentional/life-changing/superficial decision changed for me.
I am no longer the girl that can drop everything and move within a day. I am no longer the girl who can visit people in different cities on a whim just because I can. I am no longer the girl who can lay out options 1, 2, 3 of what to do with my summer: Africa, North Carolina, or Cincinnati and legitimately consider trying them all at once. I am no longer the girl who can come home to a house full of girls and walk to dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant just because it’s Tuesday. I am no longer… Anne Durham.
But, I will tell you what I am…
I am the woman who gets to love the most amazing man I know. I am the woman who gets to dream and pray for a life that will glorify the Lord of our hearts. I am the woman who gets to share my life with my best friend. I am the woman who gets to sit across from the dinner table and share my deepest secrets and laugh until I pee my pants… all because I am sharing a meal with the one my soul loves. I am the woman who gets to encourage the man I married on a daily basis. I am the woman who gets sharpened in the most beautiful and painful way I’ve ever known because I chose to share my life with someone that does not think the sun shines out of my rear (and tells me so). I am the woman that is loved like Christ loved the Church in a real, visual way… because I gave up Anne Durham for Anne Wilson.
Marriage is a sacrifice. No one forced me into this covenantal relationship, I chose it and I chose it gladly. No one forced me into loving Christ, He chose me and I chose Him back. I didn’t know what I was giving up at the time. When I chose Jesus, of course I was naive. I thought life with Christ meant that problems go away… not that your eyes become more aware of the world’s pain and that your heart becomes more vulnerable to it. When I got married, I didn’t realize what it meant to be one, and what that really meant I was giving up. Yes, it’s hard. Every relationship worth having is hard. But I wouldn’t choose that girl over this woman any day, even on the hardest of days.