I have mentioned to several strangers here lately that my husband and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and are more in love now than ever… I must admit I have been taken aback by their reactions.

With absolute wonder and awe one young lady said, “That’s amazing…” and the look in her eye was what one might get when reading about a farfetched, but much-hoped-for love in a romantic novel.

Another young lady laughed and with a bit of a snide attitude let me know I was part of a dying breed and I was lucky.

I have spent the last 24 hours contemplating what I have been experiencing and I am realizing my declaration of 25 years of marriage brings out something deep inside others.  It stirs their own hopes, disappointments, memories, and longings.

In a world where life hits us hard at every turn we all long for a soft spot with arms that hold, eyes that embrace, and a heart that loves us in spite of ourselves – forever.  God knew Adam needed that. He created Eve and it was very good.

But then there’s that sin thing that entered the garden … and us.

My marriage has been gloriously hard at times. I say gloriously, because if it had not been hard I wouldn’t have sought God to help me make it through the hard. The hard is a mighty tool in the Maker’s hand. The hard has caused me to allow Him to chisel away at the selfish parts of me.

My husband and I have worked through our marriage …  for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others – till death do us part. The struggle has proven our need for a Savior, made us both stronger, woven us together tighter and has allowed God’s glory to shine.

That’s what I want to say to the faces that look at me in wonder and say “25 years – no way?” One of the faces was that of a young woman who had been married for fourteen months and she asked me, “How in the world have you done it?” I replied, “My biggest piece of advice for you is to be completely selfless.” She looked into my eyes with a bit of a blank stare and I noticed an arch appeared in her eyebrow, her head cocked slightly to the side and a look of slight confusion drew across her fresh, unwrinkled, young face.

Oh how I wanted to pour truth into this young woman. Help her understand that marriage is not what the world, and inexperienced friends will whisper in her ear. It is not her opportunity to “fix” her husband and his many faults, but to love her husband unconditionally, and allow God, through that process, to reveal her own need for repair. To fully embrace loving her husband with wild abandon, to share daily life deeply with one another, while remaining totally committed, to remember their vows and hold fast to them.

We were not ready for that conversation yet … maybe God will provide opportunity for that in the future.

But you, friend, need to hear that truth.