Hold my hand

July 17th is our day. No matter what is happening around us, Luke and I pause and honor the commitment we made to God and each other. In 2009, the temperature was 73 degrees which is a miracle smack dab middle of July in Nebraska. But the bigger miracle is this mystery of two ridiculously independent and selfish humans meeting at an altar, joining hands, and almost carelessly looking into each other’s eyes to commit forever to each other.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians. 5:31-33

You know what I was most nervous about on my wedding day? Not this miracle of becoming one. Not the whole submit to and respect your ‘almost’ husband for the rest of your life. I was most afraid (read:terrified) of sweating. Yes, sweating.  I was most nervous on my wedding day to hold my soon-to-be’s hands in front of the candle lit sanctuary. Brides in white don’t sweat?! Plumbers fixing toilets in non-air-conditioned homes, sweat.  In middle and high school, I used to avoid shaking hands by giving high fives and contemplated never dating for fear of having to hold hands in a movie theater. Don’t even get me started on “trust circles and prayer circles.” Clearly, we should have made an appointment or two with a sweat doctor. Nevertheless, there I was on one of the coolest days on record in July, holding my husbands (dry) hands. I couldn’t be the freak show who told the pastor, “Hey, I’m gonna sit this one out when it gets to the whole hold hands and say your vows part.” Something about that doesn’t scream, commitment or starting off on the “right” foot. I was so preoccupied with my sweaty palms, my worry, and what my beloved or others would think, I neglected to see the beauty of the moment before me.  Then, a funny thing happened when I took his hands anyway. You know what I remember about this moment? My husband. And feeling so excited I was about to explode. And realizing we had a trolley and food and this whole life waiting for us!! You know what I didn’t know in this moment? How much I would cherish that stance. How much I would crave and depend on being able to look Luke in the eyes, stare almost carelessly at one another, and sometimes without words say, “let’s go, or it is ok, or simply, I do and I love you.” Suddenly, simply because I decided to let go and hold on to something greater than myself, I was standing in front of a new world I had completely missed out on before. In my weakness, I underestimated his strength. I undervalued the power of grabbing a hold of one another and not letting go. And through the last six years of marriage, sometimes, that’s all we have had.

There are days when just simply holding on to one another is what has kept us together. Sitting on the couch hands clasped, bracing for the news on the other end of the line. In the waiting moments we’ve become one.  Holding hands moments before doctors perform surgery after losing our baby, fingers silently intertwined in love, and after evenings of wading through tears and conflict-we grab a hold again and I remember that day, our day. I chose to hold his hand anyway.

Luke’s strength and steady hand has become my protection from this world. How could I have undervalued this so greatly? Don’t we do that with others God has put in our lives? And even more so, don’t we do that with Him? We are such lost sweaty sheep sometimes. Do sheep sweat? Gross. He loves us so much and asks us to just hold His hand anyway. When I am so focused on me, my ability, and my fears, I miss the best parts of my own story. If I’m holding on too tightly to my fears, I miss out on all the strength and joy that comes from holding on to something greater than myself. And I could have missed the best parts of what my dear Luke has to offer me every day. His gentle touch, a loving reminder he is there for me, and the ability to carry forward when I cannot in my own strength. All of this a gift from God. A gift I had to choose to receive and accept.

So today, on our day, I choose to hold his hand again. It’s not always easy, and it’s rarely the picture of perfection. Holding on anyway is better than sitting it out, missing out on all that can be done together when we are hand in hand. Luke, I love you. Please hold my hand and don’t let go. (Sorry it’s so sweaty)

-Ann Elizabeth

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