Today, January 18th, is my sixteenth wedding anniversary.
Sixteen years ago, I stood at the altar of Grove City Grace United Methodist Church with Tara Lynn Rivetti, my beloved soul mate and the woman of my dreams. It was a cold and snowy day (my favorite kind of weather, by the way). Inside the sanctuary, however, no one seemed to care about the weather. We sang. We celebrated the presence of God. And we asked the Lord Jesus to strengthen and equip as we made the sacred, beautiful, and wonderfully absurd promise to love, honor, and cherish one another for the rest of our lives.
It was the best day of my life. Tara looked radiant. My father officiated. All of our family and friends were present. Nobody fainted! Sixteen years later, and I am still praising God for the joy of that covenant-making day.
In sixteen years, Tara and I have experienced more joy than I could have ever imagined. We have stood together in ministry and seen the Spirit bring precious souls to Christ and bring other precious souls into an even deeper relationship with him. We have led worship together at weddings and funerals, on Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday, through the contemporary rhythms of “Shout to the Lord” and the ancient poetry of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” We have traveled around the world and seen the richness and diversity of God’s good creation. We have forged blessed relationships with our wonderful in-laws, thereby seeing our family expand in beautiful ways. We have created a home environment that is a context of mutual encouragement, tangibly-expressed love, laughter, and prayer.
We have also experienced profound sorrow during the last sixteen years. We have lost both of Tara’s parents, to whom we were very close. We have seen my father embark on the hard journey of Alzheimer’s Disease. We have stood with members of our church family through their cancer, their divorces, and their depression. Even through tears, though, Tara has helped me to discern the steadfastness of the joy of the Lord—a joy that, unlike transitory and superficial happiness, is not dependent on one’s circumstances, but upon the unwavering embrace of our sovereign God. I pray that I have helped her to discern that joy even half as much as she has helped me.
At the risk of sounding sappy (and the good Lord knows I’ve been accused of that before!), I will tell you that Tara is my favorite person. She brings a sweetness and a pure heart to every situation she enters, and she rarely gets enough credit for this. She is insightful and funny, playful and poetic. Having been raised Baptist, she has the evangelical fervor that those brothers and sisters bring to the table. But she is enough of a Wesleyan to have come to love the interpretive wisdom that results when we view God’s Word through the lenses of tradition, reason, and experience.
In short, Tara is the bomb! I am thanking God for her, even as I type these words.
I am writing this post from a resort called The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. It is the place where we spent our honeymoon sixteen years ago. We have made it a priority to return here every five years in order to…well…remember. We would have come last year (on our fifteenth anniversary), but my mission trip to Africa caused us to delay our return to The Homestead for a year.
It is a beautiful and wintry day here in Virginia, and Tara and I are looking forward to experiencing it. I simply wanted to spend a few moments sharing these deeply personal reflections with my brothers and sisters in the land of blog. Thank you for listening.
And thank you, ever-present, always-creative God, for my marriage. Thank you for the way in which you have matured Tara and me and deepened us through the covenant that you enable us to share. And thank you for the way in which marriage has equipped us to cherish even more abundantly the urgency of the bride of Christ and the goodness of the Groom for which she waits.