Continuing the love theme for the week, today’s post comes from my beautiful wife, Julie. She loves me a lot. In fact, I feel a bit uncomfortable posting this because she’s so nice! But, I’m doing it anyway because she’s awesome and you deserve to know that your kids (or you!) can find love like this someday, too. Enjoy!
There’s a popular trend on Facebook right now where newlyweds post all or most of the pictures from their wedding day. I love flipping through the photos and seeing the happy, glowing faces of the bride and groom and all the fun of their day. My favorite pictures are of the couple lost in each other’s eyes at the altar as they take their vows. You know the shot: bride beaming brightly on the left, the groom stunned by her beauty standing on the right, and the officiant or pastor between them, guiding them through the ceremony. Each time I get to those pictures, my heart skips a beat, remembering those moments at my own wedding. Looking into Ryan’s eyes and knowing that he was committing to love me until the end of time….it was magical.
The thing is, though, the ceremony pictures of our wedding look a little different. In our photos, it went: blonde bride on the RIGHT, super cute groom on the LEFT, with my dad (the pastor) between us.
I love that no matter how many wedding photos I look at, ours will always have that little special difference. Because I married a man with a little special difference. Having one hand meant that we made a choice to switch sides at the church to keep things more convenient for Ryan during the ceremony. That small change was not even noticed by anyone else, but it is the life we lead. From the moment I knew I loved this man, his hand was just a little special difference that makes our life more unique.
I’ve known Ryan since he was the annoying friend of my younger brother in high school. I can honestly tell you that, thinking back, I have no memory of even noticing him missing part of his left arm. He was just a dude that would hang out in my house and bug me. And he stayed that way in my mind until God brought us back to Madison at the same time after college and we worked closely together as youth leaders at our church.
He grew on me, I guess you could say, but there is also no doubt in my mind that we were meant for each other from the beginning of time. I fell madly in love with him as we spent more and more time together, because he carries himself with a confidence, a purpose, an outlook on life that made me feel safe and fascinated. He saw beauty in me that I was dying for someone to see, and he continues to bring it out in me. I know that growing up as the child of divorced parents and his limb-difference required him to find a strength in himself and then in the Lord. This has helped him develop, throughout his life, a need to live well and do good things for others. He stood out to me from any other man, because of all the things he was deep inside. And how attractive that made him on the outside! I fell in love quickly and with abandon, because of everything I learned about his heart, his spirit, his humor, his protective nature, and the idea that he was going to change the world.
I can honestly also say that all of Ryan’s great qualities were on a list called “Requirements for Future Husband” that I wrote up during high school. I have always known there was a great man out there that God would lead me to marry, and Ryan fit all those requirements (even “must be musical, sing with me, and enjoy Broadway Musicals,” if you can believe it!). His missing limb didn’t affect my list or the amazing heart that he has inside. I pray every day over our own three children, especially our son Sam, that they will be people that grow-up to love God and others the way Ryan does. Having a father with a limb-difference is just another chance for them to learn to love others in a better way, and they learn from watching our marriage that love can happen and be amazing with whomever God chooses for them. Having Ryan for a dad is one of the most special blessings in their lives, for sure.
Truthfully, standing beside Ryan on the right side of the altar that March evening so many years ago, his arm never crossed my mind. It never crossed my mind that he was different or limited. Or that there was anything but a big, exciting future ahead for us and our future family. All I knew at that moment was how blessed I was to have my dreams come true with a man made for me.