I look up at our mantle. At the portrait taken during our engagement shoot. A portrait taken when I was 22 and he was 25. It's a portrait of people who have no idea who we are. They no nothing of the 5 years that will reshape everything they are. They no nothing about the people that will stare at them 5 years from that moment and think, "oh, if only you knew."
When I think about the people we were in that portrait I have to laugh a little. I think about how bright-eyed they were. I think about how willingly they were jumping into a life they thought would be tied up in a pretty bow. Part of me envies them; I am happy for their youthful ignorance. The other part of me is thankful; thankful for the tough seasons of life that have changed who they are. Even if it made us strangers. Maybe even because it did.
They girl in the portrait? She was so sure of herself, sure that she knew what she wanted out of life. Sure that being a wife wasn't going to be much different than being a girlfriend, sure that it was just a means to getting to become a mom someday soon. The stranger she has now become is less sure of what the future will look like. The girl in the portrait would be shocked to know that the stranger staring at her is ok with that. This stranger is glad to not have rushed into motherhood. She has learned that being a wife is just as important. She is thankful for years that have taught her that her husband should be a priority (even if she still often forgets). She is thankful for years that have taught her what being an adult looks like (even if she often still feels ill-prepared for it all). The stranger she has now become has a different picture in her mind of what her family will look like; maybe some children will be biological, maybe some will be adopted, maybe some will come into her life for only a season. And while the uncertainty of it all is sometimes frightening she is open to the way God will paint it for her, not the way the girl in the picture would have painted it for herself.
The boy in the portrait? He is steady and stable. He is sure about the girl in his arms, but he is unsure about her eagerness to rush so quickly from one stage of life to the next. He is the voice that says slow down, take some time to just be us. He is still that; still the steady voice she hears. But he has grown more sure of himself, more sure of the what it means to rest in the grace of what God is doing. He laughs more at the woman he is now married to and knows more about what it means to be married to a dreamer. He is more solid in the way he moves around her, how he lets her dream while still keeping her grounded.
The girl in the portrait never would have thought that her late twenties would be so vastly different than her early ones. She never would have imagined of how much life could fit into the span of 5 years (or even two). And she would never have believed the amount of wrinkles that skin can acquire so quickly (it's true what they say girls, start preventing early). The stranger she has now become loves the girl in the portrait. She loves her, but she is also learning to say goodbye to her. Just like she is sure that the stranger she will be 5 years from now will be learning to say goodbye to who she is today.
And she is excited; she is excited about learning to love that new stranger too. She is excited about the many strangers she will get to meet over the course of her marriage; the stranger she shares a bed with each night and the one she sees when she looks in the mirror each morning.