Not your typical anniversary post.

Three years ago when I walked down the wooded aisle to Jeff, I was exuberantly excited. I couldn’t wait to marry this incredible man and commit to journey with each other. It was a hot July evening and there was just enough shade from the surrounding trees to provide some relief from the radiant sun.  The venue was gorgeous, especially as the sun set and the twinkling lights illuminated our garden venue. The music was lovely. The ceremony could not have been more beautiful. The flowers were wild and whimsical. The food was tasty. The toasts were tear-jerkingly good. And even our homemade cake was delicious! Friends and family were dancing and there were smiles all around. Indeed it was a wonderful and joyous day.

And yet it was not the happiest or best day of my life. Yikes, it feels so yucky to write that, especially because all of the details were amazing and we had so much help making the day wonderful. Our culture teaches us that a wedding day is supposed to be the happiest day in your life and the day when a bride feels the most beautiful she ever has. And there’s nothing wrong with having that experience, but it wasn’t mine.

At times I’ve had a hard time looking back on wedding pictures, not because of any hard feelings about the day or about our marriage, but because I didn’t feel truly beautiful. I didn’t want to be the center of attention or have eyes on me all day; I had a hard time looking at my own self during that time in life. When I looked at myself, I saw failure. I saw a young woman, previously so confident, who was now confused with what she had to offer to the world. I saw a young woman who didn’t believe she was truly worthy of love. I saw a woman who was afraid to be pretty because that might get her into trouble. I saw a young woman who was afraid to be too nice or too friendly because that also might get her into trouble. I saw a young woman who was living in great fear. A young woman who had been sexually assaulted and didn’t know how to move forward. A young woman who still believed that on some level it was her fault. A young woman who was having nightmares, flashbacks, and abdominal pain. A young woman who had disconnected from her body in order to survive.

And now, just three years later, I look back on those pictures with tremendous gratitude and overwhelming joy. God gave me an immeasurable gift the day I married Jeff – showing up as I am (feeling broken and ugly on the inside) and still being celebrated, received, loved and delighted in by Jeff and so many others.

I hesitated to write this, much less share it, afraid to damper such a joyous occasion and an amazing three years of marriage. This is not your typical anniversary post. But it is real and I believe we as humans desire to be real with each other. To hear and be heard, to see and to be seen in our most vulnerable and most joyful spaces.

Through the grace and goodness of God, I have received incredible healing through many different teachers, mentors, counselors, friends, and family. I have shed tears that have been longing to be shed. I learned to connect with my body and spirit in deeper ways than I ever imagined. I released long-held negative beliefs about myself that are not of love. I regained confidence and self-worth more quickly and fully than I thought was possible. Trust in self, others, and God has been restored. I feel like I have come home to myself and at the same time my heart has been reconstructed into an even stronger, bolder, more beautiful version than it was before all the pain. Some days I pause mid-sentence in awe of the transformation, overwhelmed by the generosity of Spirit.

And now I look back at those wedding pictures with pure joy, thankful to be married to a man who committed to cherishing me in all the seasons of life. I mean, what more could a girl ask for?

To you, my love, happy three years! You’re my favorite and I couldn’t be any happier.


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