I've been doing a lot of thinking this week.
Not only because Chris and I have been married for six months (see, Hollywood? it IS possible! ;) ) Not only because Valentine's Day is tomorrow, and Chris will be my very first (and totally permanent!) Valentine.
But also because not so long ago, my life was so starkly different.
Since I was a teenager, I have been more excited -- and more anxious -- about getting married than most people I knew. I always had a crush on some boy or another, trying to envision what life would be like with him always around, or at very least trying to practice the kind of thinking and feeling that my future wonderful marriage would require. Cindy can tell you it was awfully naive, and downright unhealthy from time to time.
It only got worse as I settled into adulthood. The impatience I'd felt as a teenager to establish my own family and home stuck with me, even though I was a little embarrassed by it. Years went by without making the kind of connection I desperately wanted. I wondered if my urgent desires, no matter how I tried to surpress them, left other people overwhelmed or unsettled. The impatience deepened into anguish, and I felt very, very alone.
Everything changed a year and a half ago, though I had no idea at the time. I was soaring on this updraft of confidence and enthusiasm that the Lord and I had fought really hard to gain, and then this good-looking, mellow, intelligent guy casually introduced himself. I absolutely snatched him up. I knew what I wanted, and if he wasn't okay with that, he would darn well have to let me know.
And then he was okay with it. Sure, there was a brief time when he needed to figure some things out, especially about himself, but overall, Chris has always loved my passionate nature.
Marriage has made me try to rediscover that part of myself, in a way. The anguish associated with being single -- the hopeless sense of loneliness and inadequacy -- defined so much of me, and now, it's gone. I certainly still have to work to retain hope. I miss my friends often. I still don't feel good enough sometimes. But the depth of that emptiness and fear and frustration has been filled up. Instead, I get a seemingly endless supply of love and patience and simple companionship from a certain blue-eyed man. Instead of just being crazy, I get to be crazy about him.
Without the constant preoccupation of singleness blaring through my mind, I've realized a few new things about myself. I can be impatient, resentful, and proud. Sometimes I have a spirit of entitlement. And I really don't love cleaning my apartment every day. (I'm sure you're not surprised.)
My awareness of these shortcomings has definitely sharpened in the months since our wedding. However, my reservoir for dealing with them has deepened exponentially because of Chris. The flow of forgiveness and affection and understanding into my life is already changing me for the better. Chris' deep love for me helps me to wait, to have mercy, to be humble. Because of him, I can reallocate my passions to conjure hope rather than anxiety.
In short, just having Chris around teaches me about the joy inherent in the Atonement.
And while I'm excited to celebrate Valentine's Day with my husband, things like that give me cause to celebrate our love every day.