A Letter to My 21-Year Old Self on My Wedding Day (11 Years Ago)

Since Saturday is my 11th wedding anniversary, I started reflecting on what I’ve learned over the years.  Below is a letter I wrote for fun to my younger self. 

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Dear Jill,

It’s your wedding day!  The day you’ve dreamed of since you were a little girl.  I’m so happy to see how much you are cherishing every moment. 

I see that you are just a little nervous.  That’s okay!  You’re nervous because you know this is a lifetime decision.  You are committed to the vows you are about to make, til death do you part. And you are pretty stubborn; just make sure and be stubborn about protecting your marriage and commitment.

I want to encourage you.  You are marrying an amazing man! He’s still a kid, just like you. Give him some grace.  Take one moment and just look at your future father-in-law.  That is the example that has been set before Matt his whole life.  See how committed to your future mother-in-law he is. See how he treats her.  Matt will grow into that. Just give him time. 

Take a look at the men wearing tuxedos in your wedding.  Your father-in-law will be taken from you far too early.  Enjoy every moment with him.  Listen to your pastor, Brother David, when he tells you that the feelings of love will come and go but trust is the backbone of your marriage.  Brother David won’t see your tenth anniversary, but his words will echo in your heart your entire marriage.  Hug your friend Michael a little tighter.  This is the last day you’ll see him this side of Heaven, as he’ll give his life in Iraq only three years from now. 

Now, I want to take time to tell you something that unfortunately it will take you 10 years to learn.  Matt is the God-given leader of your home.  Get out of his way and let him lead.  Don’t try to change him into the leader you want him to be.  Matt already has one Holy Spirit in his life, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t need your help.  In fact, you’ll find if you’ll just submit to Matt’s leadership, he’ll cherish you more than ever. He’ll care for you in a way you’ve never known. And he’ll become the leader that God wants him to be.  That’s much better than the leader you think you want anyway. Trust me.

You’ll also need to accept one thing.  Matt will not meet all of your emotional needs. He wasn’t designed to.  That place belongs to the first man you fell in love with – Jesus Christ.  Don’t try to make Matt be your Savior stand-in.  Your position as his wife is to seek to help him, to meet his needs.  You are such a passionate young woman. Channel that passion into loving your husband. I mean really loving him.  Look past the obvious and see his needs. They’re not the same as yours, and because he’s not verbal like you, you’ll have to be really observant. 

I’ll let you in on a secret.  One of his greatest needs is to be respected.  It might be his very greatest need.  Read and re-read Ephesians 5.  Note that while men are called to love their wives, wives are called to submit to and respect their husbands. When Matt feels respected by you, he will show love to you.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Finally, I want to encourage you that your love will change over the years.  Don’t be afraid of that!  There will be times when your tummy is starving for those butterflies.  Stay the course and they’ll be back, but they’ll be a different shade than they’ve ever been.  That’s what happens with deep love that is strengthened through time, experience, and the day-to-day choosing to love.

That being said, enjoy your day! Celebrate with the friends and family who have taken their day to share with you on your day.  Weddings are a beautiful thing, but a God-honoring marriage is even better!

Love,
Yourself 11 years Later

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