People I knew said I was “mature for my age,” but I mean, c’mon. I was a teenager. I couldn’t have been that mature. When I fell for my husband I was looking for every possible reason not to. I was really skittish of commitment, as well one should be at that age. But it just kept coming back to this: I knew in my gut—the deepest part of me—that he was the one. My gut knew that marrying him was the right thing to do. But my poor little teenage brain couldn’t have known how right it actually was.
When you’re 19, you’re not thinking about every decision you’ll have to make together, so you won’t know to look for someone who will be patient, allowing the process to take as long as it needs so that you can both be confident and unified before moving forward. You’re not thinking about the nights that will be long, the hours you’ll both be putting in, and the exhaustion you’ll both be feeling. So you won’t know to look for someone who keeps his sense of humor even in the most stressful of times, so he can make you laugh and help you release your own tension.
When you’re 19, you won’t see the car accident down the road that you’ll miraculously and thankfully walk away from, but that will total his car. So you won’t know to look for someone (even someone who is 6’3”) who will willingly drive a rusted out green Honda Civic for 8 years that he inherited from you. Whoops. Sorry, babe.
When you’re 19, you’re not thinking about kids. You’re not thinking about babies crying at all hours of the night, so you’re not looking for someone who will wake up at all hours so you can get some sleep. I mean, in the back of my mind I knew he’d be a good dad someday (a very distant someday in my 19 year old mind), but I didn’t know he would put his whole world on hold for our kids, captivated by their little baby faces for hours. I didn’t see that someday, not a day would go by when he wouldn’t make sacrifices for our girls, loving them in a way that they’ll only appreciate many years from now.
When you’re 19, you don’t see the hard times coming down the road. You don’t see the postpartum depression and anxiety you’ll face, so you won’t be looking for a rock who can withstand that storm. You won’t see the moments where he has to rush home from work, only to find you frantic and unable to function on the bathroom floor, paralyzed by a panic attack. Again. You won’t see the moments where he takes your face in his hands, looks you in the eye, and tells you that you’re going to get through this, and that he's not going anywhere, and by sheer grit wills you to believe it. You won't know to look for someone who will buy you an iPod and write you a song to remind you that God never leaves his children alone.
When you’re 19, you don’t see all the many homes you’ll live in together, and all the moves you’ll navigate. You don’t see the different jobs he’ll have and how much they’ll require of him. You won’t see that he’ll be a debt collector for a year, leading worship for one church’s youth group while also leading the youth ministry and Sunday morning worship of another. So you won't know to look for someone who works hard with joy, willing to put others first for Jesus’ sake. You won’t know to look for someone who can withstand a thousand pounds of pressure. You won’t know to look for someone with tough skin who can take loads of criticism, and yet humble enough to learn from it and bless the criticizer, even when they’re wrong. You won't know to look for a man who works his tail off even when things are stacked against him and he’s treated unfairly.
When you’re 19, you don’t see all the ways you’ll change, all the nuances of your life that will be different from the plans your young mind laid out. You won’t know to look for someone who will pursue you and keep pursuing you through waves upon waves of change; who will take the time to get to know you over and over again as you evolve. You won't know to look for someone who’ll continually treat you as his partner in all aspects of the word, and stand beside you to fully be yours. You won't know to look for someone who will work tirelessly at his job, be a fully engaged dad, and then work tirelessly in the remaining hours to help you fulfill your own dreams.
Luckily, even though my naive, teenage self didn’t know what to look for, God knew what I needed. When I said my vows on June 15, 2007, I knew I loved him. But what I couldn’t see was that on February 16, 2017, I’d be in awe of him.
At the time, there were quite a few people who told me getting married at my age was bad idea. They looked at me like I had three heads and should probably see a doctor. Some told me it was a mistake. Folks, if getting married at 19 was a mistake, then I’d make the same one over again a million times with him.