I have been trying to wrap my head around how to tell you what you mean to me…on this day, our anniversary.
I want and need to tell the whole world what I get to experience every single day by being married to you. I know you are a private person…but this, my love…this needs to get out. It needs to because there are girls and young women everywhere that need the example of who you are to permeate their worlds. They need to know how to go after life, carry themselves as a strong, independent woman, and how to follow what Jesus is calling them to in life.
Let me start by saying this…
You waited for me. You were so patient. Amidst my selfish being that was so absorbed with what I thought I needed, wanted, etc…you waited. I ran in what could best be described as incoherent circles for years. Incoherent because they don’t make sense…because I wasn’t with you…we weren’t together. Not because you weren’t ready, but because all I could hear was the sound of my own voice, thoughts and arrogant pursuit of life.
And then the moment when my heart almost fell out of my chest. I walked into the church we both grew up in. It was Christmas eve. And in a simple, passing comment…my life flashed before me…close enough to be painfully clear, and yet just out of reach as it seemed in that moment I had missed any chance of being with you for the rest of my life.
From someone (I can’t even remember who, now)…came these words…
“Did you hear that Cara was getting engaged?”
I think about that night, and how I felt. It’s what it feels like to be emptied of everything you are. To know you are standing there physically, yet a total emotional numbness comes over your entire body.
I don’t remember much after that, until…the moment that changed my life forever.
I had returned from work (living with my parents on Pine Drive. I could walk back into that house and tell you exactly where I was standing at that moment). I had just run a retreat for high school students. It was an all-nighter so my exhaustion level was pretty high. On most days I would have crashed and taken a nap, doing everything I could have to avoid any discussion with parental units.
But on that day my mom said something to me that gave me a hope I hadn’t had in a long time.
“Brett, did you hear that Cara and her boyfriend have broken up?”
She didn’t have to say much more than that…although I think she and your mother had plotted the next steps carefully…so as not to allow me to miss the obvious next move on my part. Before I could say a word…she put that Columbus, Ohio phone number in my hand and told me I should “call to check on you.” (Well played, moms…both of you…well played, indeed)
I did. (For the record, I would have turned every grain of dirt in the world over to get that number on my own)
And you responded (after we hadn’t talked much, if at all for a couple of years) like only you would, and like I deserved.
Me: “Cara…how are you?” (in a tender, heartfelt “holy crap please don’t hang up on me” delivery)
You: “Fine, why are you calling?…what the heck do you want?” (in a “Brett, you are so predictable it’s ridiculous” response)
Not exactly the hallmark moment I had envisioned, yet exactly what I deserved. (You are a STRONG woman…more on that in a minute)
But it was that moment that I knew I would do anything, and go anywhere just to be with you. I wasn’t going to mess this up again…and quite frankly I knew that you weren’t going to skip a beat and move right past me if I did. (Again…your STRENGTH)
My prayer life got real intense. Mostly…I think, that my old 87′ Honda Civic Hatchback would make it to Columbus, Ohio so I could see you again. Those were 4.5 hour prayer vigils every time I rolled my wheels towards you from little ole’ Fredonia, NY.
More proof we were always meant to be. Jesus got that car there with me in it, safely (loudly, but safely)…every…single…time.
I remember the Brian Setzer orchestra CD I would fill my time in the car with, and the Van Morrison CD we played as we danced across your sister’s living room. I used to secretly imagine it was our home. We’d be married, have our own children, and that would be our life.
I never told you that…but even during my fear that I would mess everything up…my heart knew that we were meant to be.
Cara Elizabeth Morey Gould…
I am now going to tell the world why every girl/young woman needs to pattern their life after you and your heart…
You were patient, but never put up (and still don’t) with my crap. Young women out there…no boy, no man is worth compromising who you are, who you are created to be and where God is taking you in life. Cara loved me, but would never mail in who she was to be with me. It was up to me to get my crap together if I wanted to take her hand through life.
You were patient, but have always challenged me when I needed to (and still do) get called out. Young women, if your “man” isn’t “man” enough to hear your heart, he isn’t a man you need to hold your hand…ever.
You were patient, but were willing to walk away if I wasn’t willing to commit. Young women, if he isn’t all in…committed to your relationship…you need to lace up your running shoes and leave. Walk away. A man that can’t commit isn’t in God’s plan for you.
You were patient, even when I tried to tell you how life was supposed to work (and sometimes still do) when you knew/know better. Young women, you don’t need a man “to complete you”, as those incredibly inaccurate words were shared in Jerry McGuire (cheesy movie). You were complete the moment God breathed life into your being, and your journey through life isn’t dependent on what a man can say to you or do for you. It’s complete because of who God says you are.
You were patient, despite my arrogance, always making me see what I needed to (& still do), not just what I want to about myself. Young women, when a man says he doesn’t need advice, he’s lying. What he really means is he doesn’t want to mess up. And if God has a plan for your relationship with him he will see that at times God will speak through you to him. That’s what a true relationship, built on hearing from God looks and feels like. If he can’t hear that, you don’t need him.
You were patient, (and still are) to love me through my faults and failures when you could have turned and walked away. Young women, it won’t be perfect, not even close. And yes…there are some absolute deal breakers when you flat out walk away. Cheating, abuse…leave. Period. But there will be moments when you need to press in and fight for him. He will doubt himself, and he will need you to help him get his confidence back. God made you to be together, with him…as three strands standing strong. He’ll do the same for you…and that is an incredible journey to be on. A true marriage with Christ at the center.
You are resilient, in your commitment to anything. Young women, stand on your word and God’s word. Period.
You are committed, not willing to compromise who you are for anyone. Young women, you are who God made you. Stay there.
You are invested, not willing to stop pursuing God’s heart and will for your life at anytime. Young women, if your husband’s will stands in the way of God’s will, say something. You will never regret having that conversation, and praying over it together…as you both pursue the very best God has for you in your marriage and life together.
You are a rock, that I can lean on when my emotional knees begin to shake and feel like they will give out. Young women, despite what the world, the movies and all that crap TV says…we aren’t always strong. Sometimes we are just trying not to collapse. It’s your love, your hand touching ours, and the gentle whispers of “I love you” that refuels us to stand in and fight for the life that God has called us to.
You are strong, and our children are learning how to be the same through your love, guidance and direction in their lives. Young women, this one…hear me so very clearly…your husband was there long before your children were. Love him deeply, unite with him clearly…and raising your children together will be a joy, not a job.
it feels like we are just getting started. (Not the kids, part…don’t worry…we are cool with three). But everything else?
Bring it on…
because 13 years ago today I married a patient, resilient, committed, invested woman who will stand strong on who God created her to be, and is the rock that our family calls mommy and wife.
Together, this life journey we are on…well, we are…and will continue to crush it…together.
I crave to be the man you dreamed of marrying when you were a little girl, Cara.
I’m trying every…single…day…to be that man for you.
So today I hope you know how much I sill daydream about you. My days are filled with thoughts about your smile, and what it feels like to be enveloped in your arms. Anything can come my way, because I know at some point I will be able to find my way to you…wrap my arms around you…and remember that God loved me so much that he brought you into my life.
My hope is that somewhere there is a girl/young woman reading this that knows she too can be the woman of God she was meant to be…and it will never require her to compromise anything, for anyone at anytime.
And as much as this love letter is for my wife..it’s for one more person…and I’m pretty sure Cara won’t mind.
Ella…I am so proud to be your daddy. My prayer is that you watch your mommy closely. She’s the best. She will always show you what it looks like to love Jesus, be a strong woman…an independent original. To be an incredible wife, mother and friend. There will be a day (100 years from now) when you will date. When that day comes, you’ll be ready…because you have a mommy that will have helped you to be.
Ella…don’t compromise, ever. You are the exact original young lady God created you to be…and you don’t need a boy to complete that. And as an adult, you’ll never need a man to be that either.
There will come a day when God will bless you with a Godly man that will treat you like the angel you are (again, 100 years from now). Until that day, my prayer is that when mommy and daddy celebrate an anniversary, it marks another year of you seeing what it looks like to love Jesus first, each other next and do everything we can to model that for you and your brothers.
So to the two most important ladies in my life…
Cara…Happy Anniversary, my love…I love you with everything I am.
Ella…I love you my punkin’ pie! Hug your mom today and tell her Happy Anniversary. You have the coolest mom on the planet.
And one more thing…
Thanks for saying yes!