I was thinking recently about the whole idea of reflecting on what I would say to my 21 year old self from the vantage point of today. It made me wonder what I would say to my newlywed self about love, romance and marriage. Here’s my letter I’ve written to Debi Gray Walter, age 19 (my age when Tom and I were married in 1979.)
I know you are afraid of all the changes about to take place in your life–moving away from all that is familiar to embrace a new life with Tom. Having only dated for the past 8 months, it’s to be expected that you’re nervous. But God has given you everything you need to be the wife He has called you to be. There will be days ahead of loneliness and uncertainty, but God is going to use this time to draw you and Tom closer together.
You may think you know Tom, but the years ahead are going to reveal how much you don’t really know him. And he will soon discover that he doesn’t really know you either. Your romantic ideal will be tested because true love isn’t based on your ideals, but on reality. God has chosen Tom to be the one with whom you’ll share all of life–the good, the challenging and the heart-breaking moments. Be brutally honest and self-disclosing. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you into all Truth. Even when the truth you are discovering about your heart and Tom’s heart tempts you to despair.
God hasn’t brought you and Tom together to live a perfect life. He has brought you together to help you grow more in your relationship to each other and to God. As iron sharpens iron, so too, will your husband sharpen you.
Don’t neglect your relationship with the Lord. Allow Him to be the One you depend upon for all things. Your husband was never meant to be your Savior. He is your companion and the One with whom you will walk side-by-side closer to the Throne of Grace as each year passes, but only God can fill the role of Savior.
Children are going to attempt to put a wedge between you. Your time will be consumed with training the next generation, but don’t love them more than Tom. Be always conscious that your marriage is primary and lasts your entire lifetime, while the throes of parenting lasts only for 20 – 30 years. Be diligent to keep the home fires burning so that when your kids are grown you will have a strong friendship to support the changing season.
Seek others who can give you godly counsel as to how to be the best wife you can be. Read great books on marriage. Spend time praying for Tom daily. Do all you can to resist the temptation to hide your motives, your fears and your failures. Tom needs to know the real you, not the one you want him to see. Don’t worry so much about outward appearance, but focus on the heart. Let Tom teach you how to be a servant who doesn’t need the accolades of men.
You may not realize it now, but Tom will become a deep source of wisdom in your life. Don’t waste time second-guessing his leadership, but trust his ability to hear God. You may think he’s the man of your dreams, but you will discover he is much better than anything you could have ever dreamed or hoped for.
Most of all, don’t measure your marriage by the marriages of others. Love is a choice, not a feeling. Commit to love Tom more everyday regardless of how you feel, and find creative ways to express it. Be uninhibited and unashamed in your showing your love to him. Let your yes be YES, as often as you are able.
Enjoy your marriage and remember above all that it is a reflection of Christ’s love for the church. Every choice you make is meant to glorify God. Keep this as your focus, and it will enable you to do and say things that will build your marriage, instead of saying things that will tear it down.
Let God’s Word dwell in your heart richly. It has the power to lead you and guide you in your daily choices in a way nothing else can. It is the best marriage manual you will ever read. Heed it’s wisdom above all other earthly wisdom.
Most of all–delight yourself in the gift of marriage. Have fun and share what you discover with others!
If you do these things, you will be greatly blessed.
Debi Gray Walter, age 54
I challenge you to consider what you would say to your newlywed self. If you choose to write such a letter, won’t you share it with us by commenting or linking your blog to this post? Let’s help newlyweds today by sharing with them what we would say to ourselves.
J, with Hot, Holy and Humorous shares her letter to her newlywed self.
Kate, with One Flesh Marriage shares her letter to her newlywed self.
I absolutely love this! What a terrific idea. I’m sure that writing such a letter would help me to see how far we’ve come in our marriage and to be even more hopeful about our future. Thanks for sharing, Debi. Just beautiful.
Thank you for your kind encouragement! What a blessing you are to me. I can’t wait to read your letter! 😉
Such great wisdom can only be gained through experience. Your words ring very true, but then again, I am from your generation and have learned life’s lessons as well. Now if you can only find a way to get your 21 year old to listen to these words of wisdom, then you would really be on to something.
As I sit here writing this comment I’m smiling, thinking about how my 21 year old self would respond to this letter from my future self….”Don’t you worry old man, I’m not going to be like that, you just wait and see…”
Kids…What do they know?
You’re right! So many times those who are younger have to learn things for themselves. It’s part of God’s plan to grow and mature them. But there are some who listen and glean much from those who have gone before them. This is why we blog! A major percentage of our readers are newly married. If they weren’t willing to listen, they wouldn’t read what we have to say.
Check back tomorrow – Tom is going to share his letter to his newlywed self. 🙂
I do hope you are right. My comment was more of a self reflection than a commentary about your readers. Your young readers are a lot smarter than I was if they are reading your blog.
Can’t wait to read Tom’s letter…
Thanks for this! Its so true I just never thought of writing it down that way!
You’re welcome. I challenge you to give it a try. Writing this letter was very eye-opening for me. It filled me with gratefulness for what God has done despite my naivete.
Very wise words, especially when you say we are not called to perfection. I got married at 28, and God has blessed us with 20 years together already. Were I to write a letter to myself as newlywed, I would basically copy yours, correcting the gender nouns and pronouns (I’m male), and would add “GET INFORMED” – read books and articles about marriage, with a Christian perspective of course. Back then in january 1993 we had no internet, but what a blessing it has been, on my life, to learn so much through websites and blogs such as yours. Thank you for your work, it’s been a blessing for us, even though we live far away in another continent.
I couldn’t agree with you more regarding the blessing the Internet has provided in regards to spreading wise counsel all over the globe. It’s always encouraging to know what God has shown Tom and me in our marriage is helping others who are coming along behind us (in number of years married, that is!) I’m so glad you took time to share your perspective.
Blessings to you and your wife,
P.S. Don’t miss Tom’s letter tomorrow!
Tom is a blessed man, just as you are a blessed woman.
So much more than we deserve–extravagant grace!
I have alway read your articles and this touched me in a special way. I’m getting married next weekend and I must say, the nuggets in your letter to your young self are the truths the Holy Spirit has been impressing upon my heart over the years while he was preparing my heart for the special man ‘his son’.
I must say your letter brought tears to my eyes and it really confirmed the important things in the marriage relationship.
I’m gonna hand-write it down and pretend I received it from you ‘an older godly wife’ and I’ll keep it in a special place to remind myself over and over again in my marriage lifetime.
God bless you.
Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. Oh to have had a letter like this to refer to when we were first married! You have brought tears to MY eyes with your comment. What a blessing it is to encourage you, and I thank God for such a privilege.
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