Ten years ago, July 4, 1999 Thomas and I were wed in holy matrimony. We wrote our own vows. This year, July 4, 2009, we renewed our vows. Both ceremonies were held at my parents' house. Many people who've seen these pictures have asked, "Do you think you've changed much since then?"
In case you can't tell when we were ten years younger, the lower picture is from 1999 and the above picture is from this year. I can see the passing of youth, but I will take the compliments of those who say my appearance has barely changed. I will also tell you that those two people have changed very much. We are not the same people we were ten years ago. I'm not saying, "the honeymoon is over" dunt, dunt, dunt, dunn (that's the bad music...I'm not so good at sounds in writing). Ten years have passed, how could we be the same people? We've both grown and changed...in many more ways than the physical.
These are the vows we wrote more than ten years ago:
Bride: I promise to love, encourage you, and help you achieve your full potential as God's creation.
Groom: I promise to love, encourage you, and help you achieve your full potential as God's creation.
Bride: I vow to take time to share with you, communicate, respect and care for you.
Groom: I vow to listen to, care for, respect you, and be conscious of your needs.
Bride: We will share our burdens and they will seem lighter.
Groom: We will share our joys together, so they will be multiplied.
Bride: I give myself to you as I am and as I will be.
Groom: I give myself to you as I am and as I will be.
Bride: I promise to be your best friend and lover for all eternity.
Groom: I promise to be your best friend and lover for all eternity.
We worked on those vows for quite a long time. We checked out books at the library. I will admit I come from a family of poets (including my dad and his mom). I think we got a bit poetic on that last line about eternity...not exactly Biblical, but it sounds really good.
You can see that we really thought about what we needed from each other when we wrote these. In retrospect, I should have asked Thomas to vow to love me, not respect me. That's one of the things that have changed though, I realize the place God gave to me in our relationship.
We dated for nearly four years before we were married. We met in high school and went to Senior Prom together. We dated through most of college (different universities). We talked a lot about our desires and expectations. We had a lot of time to get to know each other.
I recently had someone tell me that God uses the marriage relationship more than any other to grow and shape us into the people he wants us to be. I definitely agree with that. I like the first line of our vows, because I think we're both really fulfilling that vow: to help you achieve your full potential as God's creation.
I have learned so much in the last ten years. One of the most important is that even if I think my husband is not being "the man" I think he is supposed to be, it is not my job to take over his! Oh, the pitfalls of being inoculated with the feminazi propaganda. I grew up with "Girl's can do anything boys can do, only better!" and the like. I thank the Lord that he gave me a Mr. Steady Man (from Debi Pearl's book: Created To Be His Help Meet), because any other man would have probably left me long ago. I'm not saying that my dear husband is or was perfect, but I was not either.
When I read the teaser for Debi Pearl's book, Created To Be His Help Meet, I was in tears. I knew I had done wrong against my husband and my God. Something I learned from her, and was reiterated in our recent Fireproof Couples Study is that when we make our wedding vows, we are accountable to God for those vows. That means that no matter how my spouse messes up, I am still responsible for keeping my vows. I am answerable to God for not keeping my vows, just as my husband is accountable to God for his vows. My job is not to be a scorekeeper, or to punish my husband.
Ecclesiastes 5: 4-5 says, "When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed-- Better not to vow than to vow and not pay." The Fireproof Couples study used that verse, and the verse really made me think. I went into our marriage ten years ago thinking a marriage was 50-50. I now realize a marriage is 100% me, and whatever I get back is whatever I get back.
Within a week of reading Created to be His Help Meet, and implementing some of the things she teaches in the book, Thomas said to me, "What happened? You're fun again." Wow! Sigh. I want my husband to always think I'm fun. I took an interest in my husband again, the things he enjoys, and I made myself and our home a joyful place to be. I responded to him in a positive manner in all things. You'd be amazed how God can work a change in your spouse when you let God work a change in you first. My dear hubby learned that we he started doing the Love Dare on me!
There was another verse used in the couples study that keeps popping up. Funny, when we were working on this part of the study, I was using the first Bible that my parents gave Thomas before we were married. In that Bible, which he seldom uses now, was underlined Ephesians 5:22-33, "Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,...let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." There is a lot more in between the dots there, but the main point is that the wife respect her husband (whether he deserves respect or not), and the husband must love the wife (even if she is unlovable). Again, the most important thing to remember is that I am responsible only for myself! I also want to note that thanks to Created To Be His Help Meet, I understand that the only man God has ordered me to submit to is my own husband.
Our pastor (the same one who married us ten years ago) used that verse in our renewal vows. We let him write them this time. Here is the vow portion of the ceremony:
Thomas do you vow to continue to take this woman, whose hands you hold as your wife, as your own flesh, to love her even as Christ loves the Church, to protect her and care for her the rest of your lives? (Answer I Do)
Turn to her and make this profession of your faith: I, Thomas, according to the Word of God, vow before God and these witnesses, to continue to be joined to you, to be husband to you and we two are of one flesh.
Misty do you vow to continue to take this man, whose hands you hold as your husband, loving him as unto the Lord, showing him respect and tenderness for the rest of your lives? (Answer I Do)
Turn to him and make this profession of your faith: I, Misty, according to the Word of God, vow before God and these witnesses to continue to be joined with you, to be a wife to you and we two are of one flesh.
This is a bit of a spoiler for the Fireproof Couples Study, at the end of the Third Session, the Fireproofing Couples Challenge for the Week was to consider renewing your vows to each other. I had already decided that I wanted to take pictures in our wedding clothes for our tenth anniversary. When Thomas offered to renew our vows, I heartily agreed.
So, here we are ten years, two kids, some hard work, and a lot of God shaping later. We have changed. We have changed for the better. Thanks be to God. Without His love, we have no love to give. With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).