JoshMolly2000Over a decade ago I started dating my best friend. This past weekend we celebrated 5 years of marriage.

Yes, after only knowing each other for four days (though we had know of each other longer), Molly and I began our relationship on September 9th, 2000. I was only eighteen at the time, but I was as sure I had found the woman I was going to marry.

Though the following eight and a half years of dating were filled with trials, 6 breaks-ups, loss, distance, laughter, and tears, we finally made it to the altar to tie the knot April 26th, 2009. This amazing woman decided to marry me knowing full-and-well what came with that package after dating for as long as we did.

I wept like a baby when she walked down the isle on our wedding day. Now we have a 2 children and one on the way and I look at our children in her arms and can’t believe the great grace of God that brought us through. God is truly the God over love and from which all loves flows – there is no other way to describe this divine miracle of a relationship outside of God’s touch.

Don’t get me wrong; our relationship has not been easy. Over the ten years we’ve had many feelings of disappointment, apathy, despair and discouragement. We even had several attempts to find true love elsewhere. Yet, in spite of all this, God wove our lives together for the sake of bringing glory to Himself. The best verse to sum up our love is found in Song of Solomon 8:6-7:

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm,

for love is strong as death,
jealousy is fierce as the grave.

Its flashes are flashes of fire,
the very flame of the LORD.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.

If a man offered for love
all the wealth of his house,
he would be utterly despised.

Among the many lessons I’ve learned over the past ten years, three things rise to the top:

1. Love isn’t all about the butterflies. Somewhere about halfway in our journey (or earlier), I learned that love was more than a feeling; it is a deep commitment sometimes void of emotion but bound to bring fuller joy in the end. Butterflies do come, but they are always more special when they come unexpectedly rather than being kept in a jar confined by desires far from reality.

2. Conflict isn’t all about winning. Fights are fights, not battles to the death. If I am ever fighting with Molly with the goal to win an argument or walk away less wounded than her, I lost before it began. We will have conflict, but resolution must come quickly… even if it means I am wrong.

3. Relationships are God’s greatest form of refinement. There is no greater tool in the Father’s tool chest for our sanctification than the tool of relationships. This is true in most relationships we share, but inevitable as it relates to those we love the most. God uses my deepest love to uproot my hardest sin. Love with another person is a taste of God’s deep love and desires for my Christ-likeness.

Thank you, Molly, for an amazing decade of dating and falling in love. Let’s go for ten more decades. I love you more than you know.