Our fifth wedding anniversary is coming up, and I am beyond excited to celebrate it.

All anniversaries call for celebration — sure, and I even believe that we should celebrate the little things in our lives, too. I actually think that’s something that gives life to our marriage — that breathes new life into ourselves; to recognize something beautiful or worthy of celebrating, to thank God for it, and to celebrate… Because we’re called to rejoice in the Lord. Always. And, “A heart filled with joy is more easily made perfect than one that is said.” (St. Philip Neri)

But this anniversary particularly makes my heart sing.

Because it has been a long road — it’s taken a long time to get to where we are today, and there have been a lot of bumps.

There has been that normal growing pain as the vocation of marriage refines us.
There has been that normal growing pain as we die to ourselves in order to serve the other.
There has been that normal growing pain as we have sought out God’s will in our marriage, family life, and the work that we do each day.

And on top of it, we’ve struggled with chronic health problems. From the get-go. Sufferings that have lasted years. Sufferings that our doctors haven’t always been able to figure out.

It has been painful.

It has been hard to carry these crosses. Especially when we compare them to other crosses that we see other couples our age carrying (which I don’t recommend doing). They look so different at times…

And the weight of these crosses has been challenging. And on some days, just crushing.

I can’t tell you the number of days that I’ve gone to daily Mass and cried my way through it.
Or the number of novenas I’ve prayed without seeing much fruit.
They’re countless.

I’ve fought with despair.

This is me not candy-coating things for you. 😉 Because who would that help?

This has been the truth we’ve lived.

And while it has been hard and heavy at times, this is also exactly what makes our upcoming fifth anniversary a very happy day. A light day. A day I can’t wait to celebrate.

It’s been a long time coming, but things are good. They are better than they’ve been.

Crosses are lighter.

We bear them with more joy. And patience. And understanding; understanding that we can’t always understand everything.

We bear them with more resilience. We know ourselves in these crosses better, and we know how to crawl out of the dark hole they can become. And,

We don’t bear them alone.

The first few years of our marriage were tough as we sought answers and started a long health journey. There were many downs before we reached the ups. We truly have lived out every part of the vows that we made.

“I promise to be good to you in good times (check) and bad (check), in sickness (check check) and in health (check)…”

Those challenges, though, brought us closer together than I could have ever imagined.

The depth of love that we have for one another now — love that is not blind in any sense — love that knows what the very bad days look like, and all the baggage we’ve brought into this marriage, and all of the sins that we’ve committed… it’s the sort of love that truly comes from our Father’s love first.

It’s love that does not look away. It’s love that heals.

And I cannot begin to express to you what life is like when you have that sort of love in it.

Love that reaffirms you’re loved. Lovable. Worth loving. Worth sacrificing for.

Love that is merciful. That forgives. Always. No matter how ugly things are.

Love that is committed to doing better.

I think this is what freedom looks like.

So while this day and our upcoming anniversary looks different than what I thought it might look like five years ago, this day couldn’t be any better to me. Because I love and am loved beyond my understanding. And I’m convinced all these struggles and sufferings brought us here in God’s timing.

And I especially look forward to what’s to come — with more hope & love than I did five years ago.

I love you more, John-Paul. Happy early anniversary, honey! We’ve earned every single one of these five years, and I cannot wait to celebrate with you!