Why is January 28th Important?
Today, all over the world, creative kids of all ages and AFOLs (Adult Fan of Legos) are celebrating the magnificence of Legos. Anyone anticipating “adult-Christmas,” that special time of year when some adults recoup some of their holiday spending funds by way of a tax refund, is learning more about Earned Income Tax Credit. Hopefully Anthony Hamilton is receiving more birthday love than his soulful heart can handle. (I hope the internet didn’t get that birthday fact wrong.) And, for you, January 28th may be absolutely nothing more than just another day.
But today, January 28, 2023, I celebrate our 29th “wedding” anniversary. Only there was no wedding. My husband and I, dare I say, reluctantly exchanged vows at the courthouse. It feels so weird using that word now, when it all has worked out in the end.
My mother was the only one present. My father didn’t give me away. In fact, so opposed to my getting married, my daddy suggested that we “just shack up for first,” before asking, “So, what are you gonna do when it all falls apart?” There were no flowers and there was no one there to throw rice, a symbol of prosperity and fruitfulness. January 28th wasn’t even the day we were supposed to get married. All we intended to do was get the marriage license.
You know those movies when someone dares someone to do something stupid, then they do, to prove a point? That’s what it was like. Two out-of-pocket, loud-mouth clerks voiced their opinions about Navy men sailing away and marrying women from the Philippines. “Girl, she don’t know the game.” Instead of protecting me from their insults, my mother chimed in on their side. “Yeah, girl, she don’t know the game.” My face couldn’t disguise my hurt. My fiance couldn’t bear to see me embarrassed.
That day, I was only 17 years old, three weeks shy of my 18th birthday. My mother had to sign, giving me permission to marry. And no, I wasn’t pregnant. And while it wasn’t a “shotgun” wedding, it kinda was in a sense. My fiance was in the Navy and certain involved parties, who will remain nameless, heard through the grapevine that there might be some financial benefit to us getting hitched. Which is really strange, because up until that point, certain parties could not stand the sight of my boyfriend/fiance.
It’s nearly impossible to build anything great from a rocky start. Our marriage has been anything but smooth-sailing. My hubby/best friend and I get on each other’s last nerves. In many ways, we are like night and day. In other ways, we are exactly the same (passionate and opinionated), which often leads to rubbing each other the wrong way. Too much of a good thing, I guess. Yet, on our best days, we work so well together. Give us two matches, one paperclip, and duct tape, and we’ll MacGyver any problem life throws at us. When in harmony, we’re really a beautiful sight to behold.
I would love nothing more than to report that once the dust settled, everything became glorious. But, truthfully, I don’t think the dust ever really settled. Like with any tragic moment in your life, you don’t necessarily get over it completely. You can’t gloss over certain moments and pretend they never happened. You just keep moving forward and make the most of what remains. Our marriage, our family, our friendship is a work in progress.
Our faith in God is what remains. God is our anchor, on sweet days and rough days. The thread of friendship binds us. We laugh together. We play together. We plan and strategize together. We pray together.
Our shared experiences bind us in a remarkable way. Our desire to remain true to our vows and a common goal to raise a stronger family than the ones that created us have seen us through many storms.
While January 28th may have no significance to many, it means quite a few things to me. There are years when it’s a looming minefield. On that day, I don't know whether to celebrate or have a moment of silence for the sneak-attack that robbed us both of so many dreams, while simultaneously paving the way for every blessing that would later unfold. There are years when January 28th is a standing testament to our enduring love, dedication, and maybe even our stubborn natures. We have survived everything meant to destroy us. Together.
My husband and I are family- and not just because we have children. We have never given up on each other, at least not at the same time. We support each other’s dreams. We have nursed each other back to health and life. We have forgiven more times than either of us can count. These twenty-nine years have shown and grown me so much.
When I look back on that girl of 17, uncertain and unaware of the world that lay outside of her sheltered existence, I’m grateful that she never gave up. Somehow, she believed in the sanctity of marriage and fought with everything in her for it. I’m grateful that she opened her heart to the struggles and successes of life. Through it all, she has become a more giving, confident person.
That day, all those years ago, I really didn’t even know what I was promising. How could I? My experience was so limited. Life never gives us an itinerary ahead of time. I have done my very best to remain true. And while it hasn’t always been easy, I am grateful for beautiful moments that sneak in between the responsibilities of life. I am grateful for joyful days that feel so bright I can vaguely remember the storm.
A marriage that lasts this long requires “yes” every day. Yes to the pursuit of happiness together. Yes to each and every road ahead. Yes to working through it. Yes to what’s best for the other person. Yes to answering someone else’s needs. Yes to enjoying each other’s company.
No matter what comes between this January 28th and the next, I am confident that we can face it. With optimism and faith, I will conquer it. Happy anniversary to the love of my life, my best friend on the planet, father of my children, my partner, my sparring partner, and prayer warrior. Happy 29th anniversary to us! Together is the answer.
Check out my book The Blessed Woman Endeavor! It's available on Apple.
Blessings and Love,