Perhaps you’ve met my sweet princess, Christy Bouchard.
Today is our 21st anniversary. Our story sounds sappy at first glance. She taught me how to tie shoelaces when we were in preschool. We met again in High School, becoming acquaintances at 15 and dating at 16. Sticking together like glue through college, we went on to careers, babies, houses, and grander adventures. By any outward measure, it has been a charmed life. It’s enough to make some people sick. It seems like there has always been a “Christy & Dave.”
A look behind the curtain reveals the full story. Buckets of tears have been shed…a few times caused by each other, and often due to the circumstances life brings our way. There have been profound times of loss…loved ones, jobs, money, pets. Sick kiddos. Sick spouses. There have been nights we have spent wondering if us will make it through this. But we have pushed through those times. We keep persistently moving forward through those dark times until we reemerge in the light.
A good marriage takes work, and some days it feels like the world has deemed this kind of work unworthy of the time and effort. What kind of person does this?
Let me tell you about my sweetie…
First…she’s got the biggest heart of anyone you could hope to meet. She comes by it quite naturally, too. I’ve met her family. That heart not only allows her to persist through the hard times and rejoice in the good time, but it is also the kind of heart that you want to treat with tenderness when she turns it over to you. It would be a tragedy to damage something so pure and beautiful.
Second…she’s the ground to my stars. That may not sound all that romantic, but we all need counterbalance…but I’m a wild-eyed dreamer with my head in the clouds. My vision is always focused on tomorrow and I tend to neglect today. When I’m running off to conferences or early breakfasts, she helps me keep perspective on the here and now…the important things. Like showing up to work or calling the doctor when I’ve been dizzy for weeks on end. Family. Friends. Vacation. That stuff matters.
I could sing my wife’s praises all day long…
The last thing I want to mention is perhaps the most overlooked. You’ve heard about the importance of endurance, persistence, faithfulness, forgiveness, and tolerance. Those are all vital. But the one thing that has been a linchpin is fearlessness. In 21 years, she has frequently heard statements like: “let’s build a chapel in Brazil” or “let’s move to Houston” or “let’s move back to Tulsa.” We have found ourselves kissing in front of Rodin’s “The Kiss” and whipping through small towns in the French countryside in a stranger’s Volvo. Sunrises on the beaches of Brazil and rainy mountaintops on slick dirt roads in that same beautiful country. She’s discovered she has a knack for holding both chickens and babies in foreign lands. And we have both shed tears of joy while watching Christ melt hearts and transform lives in front of our eyes. There have been all those times when we have fearlessly said “yes” when everyone else told us we were crazy. We’ve seen the trajectory of lives change during those times, even as our own hearts broke.
Even more…fearlessness isn’t just about adventure. It isn’t just the things you do. It’s also a way to love. It’s risky. Looking someone in the eyes and handing them your heart unconditionally will lead to hurt. Every time. It takes someone fearless to surrender themselves fully to someone else, trusting that even if there are dings and scrapes, we will both be better in the end because we have loved. We have loved fully and been fully loved. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it’s hard. But it’s worth it. My goodness, it is worth it.