My wife, Beth, and I celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary today! We were married on July 31, 1999, in a little chapel on the campus of Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA. The past 19 years have been so much better than I could have ever imagined. Beth is the most wonderful person and woman I have ever met, and she is a far superior spouse than I. She compliments me so well, filling in all of my weaknesses, encouraging me in my strengths, and modeling Christ-likeness each and every day. I am blessed to call her my love and my friend.
Even so, 19 years seems incomplete. It almost feels like something we shouldn't celebrate. Twenty years sounds so long, whole, and round. Nineteen...well...that's barely "of age." If you serve 19 years in the military and quit, you are labeled a veteran. Serve 20 years and quit, and you are labeled a retiree. If you tell someone you're 19 years old, you're labeled a teenager. Tell someone you're 20 years old, and you're called an adult. A year, in some cases, is a big deal! And, quite honestly, it seems like a big deal when it comes to anniversaries as well.
But when I look at how much I've grown through my marriage to Beth, I see the significance of this seemingly incomplete period of time. In 19 years, Beth has shown me how to demonstrate grace to others (even though I don't always do so). She has shown me what it truly means to be humble. She has modeled a life of faith that genuinely seeks Christian maturity. She has forgiven me more times than I can count, and she has encouraged me to forgive. She has borne five wonderful children who have themselves taught me the meanings of joy, patience, and love. And she has lifted me up from moments of utter despair, weathered difficult times of separation (usually due to military service), and found the good in me, even when the good was hard to find.
Yes, I still think 19 is somewhat incomplete. But the 19 years I've experienced with Beth have in so many ways completed me. So, it's true that 19 is not 20, but...you know what...it's close enough!
I love you, Beth! Happy Anniversary!