On My 25th Anniversary Moments that Change Your Destiny
There are moments in time that change everything.
Lightning strikes a tree and alters the course of a stream causing two rivers to join.
You’ve heard of the butterfly effect, where one small creature flapping its wings and creating a small wind current causes a chain reaction that alters hemispheric weather patterns half a world away.
When I think back on my own life, there are a few of those major moments that changed my life. Had just one person, one event, one little part of the equation been altered, even the slightest bit, who knows how different my own life would be.
Pay Attention to Chance Encounters
One of those moments happened in 1990. I walked into a crowded room, looked up, and met eyes with the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Everything slowed down for a moment, the world tipping on its axis, freezing time long
enough to suspend us for a few seconds. It was immediate. It was intense. It was like nothing I’d known before.
Only a short time later, this week in 1992, she stood in the back of a church, the light flooding in through a stained-glass window behind her. She seemed to almost float there, as if she were an angel who was given the option to become fully human and was making her choice by joining her life with mine. From the front of the church, I sang to her, and she walked up the aisle and then we sang a duet together. Our lives forever changed. Yes, it was exactly like one of those Hallmark movies, the story line either inspiring or sickeningly sweet, depending on your perspective.
Harness the Power of Now
So many people who were there with us on that day twenty-five years ago are gone:
- Our matron of honor and my best man that day were my grandparents. They were so surprised and honored to be asked. It was one of the highlights of their lives together.
- My brother. He’s also been gone now a few years, and yet even this very week I had a vivid dream and spoke to him.
- Others are gone, too: aunts, friends, my other grandparents, who were so gracious that day. My grandmother looked in the camera and thanked my wife “for being one of us now.”
Time marches forward. I’m now that guy that can tell others how to make a marriage last twenty-five years.
There are other moments that stand out:
Buying our first home together. How we managed, I’m not sure, but we did on a shoestring budget. We remember our near panic when we received that first utility bill, wondering how we would pay it.
The birth of our daughter in 1997. We recall every single minute. My wife’s elated cry out to me when her water broke. Hours later, my daughter surprising the nurses by tracking me by my voice.
A health scare. Only months afterward, we were surprised again with another altering moment. I’ll never forget the doctor coming out, telling me that my wife had breast cancer, and that she was about to come out of anesthesia. We would have to tell her together. It was advanced enough to require radiation and chemotherapy. She lost her hair but never her spirit. In a few months’ time, her faith began to sprout faster than her hair, and she has never wavered in her belief.
Life-threatening disease. Years later, we learned she had another cancer. This one even more insidious, threatening once again to steal her away, to shatter the glass of our lives. We’ve learned to pray more in these moments. No one prays in good times quite the same as in challenging times. We don’t know the why behind them. Perhaps God uses them to get our attention, perhaps because we’re finally still enough to see what is always there, and yet we miss it as we race by the important on the way to the meaningless.
Fortunately, she once again beat cancer. This one showed us the incredible blessing of friends who were there for us through every moment.
Then there are the career moments. When she left hers to fight cancer and stay home to raise our daughter. When my promotions started. Her belief in me fueled my success. From the outside, my job promotions looked miraculous. The truth behind them was more struggle, political battles, and more work than you’d want to know. Nothing came easy. And it seems we moved so often that my wife put our furniture on wheels. In fact, it was our move to Columbus from Nashville that opened our eyes into how much junk we were carting around, stuff from decades ago, some of it in boxes not opened in several moves.
Moving from state to state. The move here highlighted another one of my wife’s
qualities. Our movers were awful, the worst experience we had in our many moves.
Furniture was splintered and cracked. Glass was shattered. My wife wasn’t upset at the loss of it all. Instead, she was positive and saw it as an “opportunity for reinvention” of our space. We decided to throw most of it away and start over, and donate whatever we could salvage. Imagine my surprise when I found people in our house fixing everything. “Honey, why are we fixing the things in the donation pile?” Her answer: “I don’t want to donate anything that isn’t in good condition. If we wouldn’t want it, then we shouldn’t donate it.” That’s kind and wise. I never asked her why we didn’t keep it ourselves then.
Cooking moments. The Friendship Bread memory is another moment in our marriage I remember. My wife is careful with who she spends time with. She chooses her company as carefully as she chooses draperies and decorations. If you’re a friend of hers, you are treasured, remembered, and nurtured. In addition to these close friends, she wants everyone around her to feel welcome and part of the family. She once made so much Friendship Bread—that’s the type of dough that multiplies with each batch, to give away to anyone who literally walked near our home—that I begged her to make it all go away.
Casual conversations. There are conversations I recall vividly throughout our 25-year marriage, especially those when my wife would encourage me in a way that only she can. I’ve heard her on the phone encouraging others, offering advice or just a listening ear. So many times, we crave someone to listen to our heart. She is a master listener.
Spiritual moments. There are also many spiritual moments that I recall. My wife is a woman of deep spiritual faith. She believes in the power of prayer. She regularly studies and applies spiritual truth. And I’ve been the beneficiary of her commitment.
Learn from the Ordinary Moments
There are so many other moments. Moments of laughing. Of writing plans on restaurant napkins. Of running in the rain, walking in the park, singing on stage, crying at funerals, saying goodbye to our beloved dog, Teako, and watching our daughter perform in plays. Moments of watching concerts, of hockey games, of meeting our heroes, of celebrating.
Today, as I reflect on 25 years of marriage together, I think about these and many other special moments and recall these lessons:
- Suffering clarifies what really matters.
- You don’t need the latest or the greatest to be happy.
- Delayed gratification allows the compounding of success.
- Giving of your time and your talents lifts you out of depression and self-centeredness.
- Believe in someone to fuel their success.
- We feel God’s presence more in challenging situations.
- Donate to charity what you would welcome into your own home.
- Building a home takes attention to detail.
- Get rid of the unnecessary clutter that weighs you down.
- Be grateful for what you have, not envious of what you don’t.
- The spiritual is more important than the temporal.
- Look for opportunities to reinvent your life for the better.
- Always be available to your close friends.
- Encourage everyone who crosses your path.
- Give to the needy and the less fortunate.
- Deep conversations make deep relationships.
- Listening is an art requiring your time and energy.
- Make time for prayer and meditation.
Life is a series of moments. As our lives rush by, I hope you take time to review the lessons these everyday moments in our lives teach us. I’m so grateful for each of them. And I’m grateful for my wife of 25 years who has inspired me, taught me much, and loved me much more.
May you take note of the special moments in your life today.