Almost two years ago, God woke me up to a certain reality about our relationship more than ever. I got a phone call that stopped me in my tracks.
“Your husband’s been shot,” are the first words I heard from a man on the other line. My heart sank. My body froze in fear. I yelled and cried. I was confused.
Then the rest of the words came out.
“He’s been shot in the arm, but he’s going to be okay.”
Then I heard Jeremiah’s trembling voice in the background reassuring me that he was indeed going to be okay and that he loved me. Relief filled my heart, but I was still shaking.
I thought I lost Jeremiah that day, but God spared his life from an accidental misfire from a neighboring shooter at the rifle range. After two surgeries, a painful road of recovery, physical therapy, post-traumatic stress, and limitations that exist today in his arm, I thank the Lord that my husband’s here with me.
God spared his life. And now more than ever I’m grateful for what we’ve gone through. I count it a privilege and a blessing to be able to live this life and age together– especially in the midst of the suffering.
Time is marching on without asking us. New wrinkles and white hairs are appearing out of nowhere. What’s happened in our past is now a memory to behold in pictures, writing, video, and telling stories around the table with our children—always a good reminder of God’s faithfulness and answered prayers.
Reflecting on our differences over time
We’re coming up on our 13-year anniversary in December. I recently turned 36 and Jeremiah turns 39 at the end of the month. With each birthday I tend to reflect deeply on life and marriage.
It hasn’t always been easy – at all. We’re both strong-willed, second born babies in our families. We’re stubborn to the core! He’s adventurous and spontaneous, I’m a stick-by-the-rules planner (AKA control freak).
As you can imagine, it can feel like a tug-a-war match and we have our share of fights. And then we make up (that’s always the best). Pride invades our hearts at times, but so does humility. Careless words fly around in the air, but so does uplifting and loving words. We don’t always communicate clearly, but other times we’re on the same exact page.
We drive each other crazy, and then we love each other like crazy. It’s a rollercoaster ride at times with our four children, sinful natures, hormones, and depending how much sleep we got the night before, but it’s still so, so good- this family circus.
What the years have taught us
Our love has grown deeper and richer than it was on the wintry day we said, “I do.” The suffering, valleys, joys, and mountaintops have molded and shaped us into who we are today. They’ve also made us stronger for the unknown trials ahead. And just when we think we’ve got it all together, we find we don’t.
We didn’t really know all the ugly within our hearts on our wedding day like we do now. Yet there’s an understanding that we didn’t know fully before: how differently we were raised, how our past hurts affect us, our personality differences, various habits, how we interpret the world, just being male and female, and more.
The years have taught me trust, selflessness, love, true companionship, forgiveness, hope, and full dependency on the Lord- to name a few. I’ve learned to greater appreciate who God has made my husband to be and how we actually do complement one another. But this has only come through the gift of time– minutes, hours, and years- by no means a quick fix like our culture craves.
Embrace your spouse now
I don’t know the state of your marriage today. But maybe your eyes are opening up to all your blessings and the love between you and your spouse. Do they need to know that he or she is truly God’s gift to you?
Don’t take your spouse for granted- even if some things drive you crazy and annoy you, like how they don’t understand you, scrolls through their phone too much, watches too much football, doesn’t always do what you want them to do when you want to, needs to spend more time with kids, or leaves their shoes in your walkway. All spouses go through this.
Don’t let the minor offenses become mountains. Be quick to forgive and patient in prayer for him or her. Be their cheerleader and not their worst critic. Affirm and encourage them daily.
When I see the large scar on Jeremiah’s right arm, I’m reminded how we’re never promised tomorrow, and we don’t know when God will take us home. The time we have on earth is a gift and no doubt God’s grace.
Embrace growing older together with your husband or wife. Find the beauty and joy in your relationship even if all you see are the obvious imperfections. Scars and flaws are what make a marriage beautiful- that we’re loved unconditionally in spite of all our sins and brokenness.
I will remember the gift of having my husband’s strong hands, voice, protection, touch, and embrace when I go to bed tonight.
And I’ll be sure to do the same.
Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife, mother to four, and writer in rural Colorado. She’s the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. To read more from Samantha, visit her blog: www.samanthakrieger.com She also enjoys connecting with readers on Facebook and Instagram.