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I had no idea, as I sat with my best friend on her front porch in the sweltering heat of a south Georgia summer night, eating fresh pineapple and listening to an eclectic playlist of David Gray, Ani DiFranco, Ginny Owens, and Savage Garden, that I’d be here now, at my dining table with my coffee and computer, as she and our daughter sleep soundly in the next room, on the morning of our sixth wedding anniversary. That was a decade or so ago, and even back then, I couldn’t envision my future without her in it. But from that distance, ten years later looked like living in a basement apartment in Anna’s (and her husband’s) house, walking their dog, and playing with their kids who would just love Uncle Mike.

And that’s not a bad existence. It has its challenges and difficulties, no doubt. But as many of my friends who’ve actually found themselves living out that kind of life (whether it will be for a season or a lifetime) have demonstrated, it’s certainly not the death sentence I sometimes feared it would be. And on the other side of the coin, the Apostle Paul, although single and celibate, absolutely knew what he was talking about when he warned the Corinthians that marriage brings troubles (1 Corinthians 7:28).

For all the wedded bliss, and all the hallmark and kodak moments that marriage and family life have brought us, it’s also brought trials, exhaustion, pain, fears, feelings of inadequacy, anger, and yes, even loneliness. I think if they’re honest, that statement rings true to all married people. And in our case, these things have only been magnified by the rather unique circumstances of our mixed-orientation marriage.

But here we are, six years in, committed and happy, truly aware of God’s kindness to us, as this has been a harrowing journey so far and has seemed impossible at times. And in the midst of all of the trials, He has been teaching us about self-sacrifice, long-suffering, faithfulness, forgiveness, mercy, grace, and love. And I like to think that, just as our circumstances magnify the negatives, they do the same for these positives.

Today, we will celebrate all that this marriage is: the love, the intimacy, the sacrifice, the challenge, the sanctifying agent. And we’ll celebrate the fact that from that front porch in Georgia, to a river-front hotel room on the Bund, our God has been there, even when it felt like He wasn’t, and He’s been guiding us, directing our steps. He’ll never leave us or forsake us. And by God’s grace, we say the same for each other.