1151_206803532804111_453786170_nWelcome to Thankful Tuesday! I realize that today is Wednesday; I’m just running a day late.

I first met Amanda at a shindig that my church small group in college was putting on. We were celebrating the Fall by carving pumpkins, eating Fall flavored foods, and singing and making music. That was almost five years ago now. We started dating about 11 months later (almost exactly four years ago now). We had our rough patches, we were even broken up for about ten days at one point, but I eventually proposed and she eventually said yes. That was a little more than three years ago. We were married in May 2013, moved to Dallas in May 2014, had our first child in January 2015 and will, by God’s grace, have our second child in April 2016.

We have encountered financial setback, bad housing situations, quarter-life crises, and Ebola. We have had to work through selfishness, laziness, indecisiveness, and unmet expectations. We have had learn when to make decisions together and when to make them apart; we have had to learn what ideas and ideals are worth struggling over and what can just be given up. And, of course, we have learned to love. Love is not, nor was it ever, reducible to warm-fuzzy feelings. Love is a choice, day in and day out, to give of oneself to another. Love is not something people fall in and out of. Love is an action, or set of actions, ordered toward an object. It is commitment to another. And our love is deeply undergirded by affection, attraction, desire, and mutual respect.

Yes, Amanda is my wife and the mother of my children, and she is an emotional and spiritual support. And she complements me well: she is steady where I am erratic; she is prudent where I am impulsive; she pragmatic where I am idealistic; she can see the forest when I get lost in the trees. But I don’t love her for those reasons, or for those reasons only. I love her because she is a person called Amanda who I have been given to love. In my best moments, I love her for her and not for me. I love her because I love everything about her. I love her smile and her dancing green eyes and her compassion and her steadiness and her razor sharp intelligence and her baking skills and her beautiful body and the way she holds our daughter. But even as I list a handful of the things about her that I love, those things aren’t WHY I love her. They are things I love because I love her, because it has been given me to love her. I can no more not love her than I can not love myself.

And so, today, I thankful for Amanda, and for the grace I have been given to love her.