Monday, January 21, 2008

One Year, Two Weeks, and Forever After

"Don't let me into this year with an empty heart," sings modern music legend Josh Ritter in one of many great songs from his outstanding 2007 album, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. I don't know whether his heart was full at midnight on January 1, but I hope someone let him into the year either way. Actually, I'm not authorized to speak for Josh concerning personal matters. (I like to think he greeted the new year in high spirits, full to bursting with hope and inspiration for the future. If that's not the case, well, chin up, Josh -- the year is young.) Anyway, that's neither here nor there. Three weeks into 2008, I can say with assurance my heart is full -- fuller than it's ever been.

My wife and I celebrated two milestones on Saturday: January 19 marked our second full week as husband and wife...and our first dating anniversary. Pretty cool, if you ask me. And, in hindsight, more than a little strange. In a good way.

You see, I never saw this past year coming. No, the passage of time is not a foreign concept to me, and no, I didn't expect the world to end midway through 2006 or my life to be suddenly and mysteriously snuffed out before the ball dropped on December 31. I saw 2007 coming. I just never expected or imagined it would hold so much: a new job, a new relationship, a promotion, an engagement, a new apartment...more blessings than I can number.

For all our planning, we humans are predictably bad at predicting the future. Had my present-day self gone to visit me thirteen months ago to tell me what lay ahead, I would've scoffed in my own face. The future is a mystery -- always full of surprises. Sometimes surprises really screw up your plans, like wrecking your car or something. Other times they're pleasant -- even, euphoric -- surprises, like falling head-over-heels in love with your best friend. This past year was loaded with surprises like that.

Right now, Heather and I live large in a small apartment on a humble gross income with grandiose hopes and dreams for our future: a trip to South America this spring, a year abroad, possibly pursuing flexible (and lucrative?) self-employment, world travel, city life, kids in five years or so, and making a lasting positive difference in this world...the list goes on and on. We're practically penniless but more than happy with our new life together, and we're excited about what lies ahead for us.

But we're not naive. We know we're not in control and we know we're not always going to have stars in our eyes when we look at each other. But "in sickness and in health, in times of want and in times of plenty, in joy and in sorrow, in failure and in triumph -- either way" we will be there for each other. By God's grace, I know we'll be alright, come what may. I hope you can say the same. But if that kind of love doesn't fill your heart, well, chin up, my friend -- the year is young.