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Do I every day?

*Behind the scenes of 11 years.*


I get a daily marriage tip/devotional from FamilyLife Today in my email. I don’t read it every day, but the subject never fails to give me pause. “I Do Every Day”, it reads, followed by whatever topic is being covered for that day.






I always linger at that subject line because the initial wedding day “I Do” seems so solid - permanent - final - as it usually answers the minister’s long line of scary questioning about having and holding, forsaking all others, in sickness, in health, in poverty, and wealth, as long as you both shall live. Um… wow? There aren’t heavier words I’ve spoken to another person in.my.life. People don’t just go around asking for that kind of commitment every day.



At first glance, this “I Do Every Day” business cheapens the original for me. It initially felt like the first one wasn’t good enough so I have to keep saying it over and over again.


But what if saying it every day didn't make the first "I Do" cheap? What if saying it every day made the first one stronger?

How would life be different if EVERY day was my “I Do”?

In all likelihood, that is a painful question for some of us. Maybe marriage today looks differently than you thought. Maybe YOU look differently than you thought. No one goes to the altar expecting a bad time.



But life has a way of always being life, no matter which way you slice it.

I’m so sad that the negative “I Do’s” are so much easier than the positive ones.

Think about it.

“I do all the work around here!”

“I do all the bedtime routines!”

“I [do] put more effort in for our marriage than you do!”

“I [do] speak your love language, why don’t you speak mine!”

“I [do] give everything for our kids, why can’t you see me?”

“I [do] love/respect you, why don’t you love/respect me!?”

“I [do] love you, why do you need me to speak it in a certain way?!”


At the end of the day, I think these are simply personal pleas for recognition.

Quite the reverse, the wedding day “I Do” is a commitment in SPITE of recognition.

It’s committing to your spouse even if all falls through - regardless of their recognition.



In the Christian tradition of marriage, marriage is a literal mirror of Christ giving himself to die and save humanity. This had nothing to do with recognition, or mutual back-scratching. His love was and is a free gift - irrespective of my performance and literally never ending.


How would life look differently if we loved the same? Constant. Regardless of performance and never ending. Sounds a lot like perfection to me.

Sounds too hard.


Thank you for the daily dose of impossibility to water my garden of marital depression, blog lady. Super helpful.

I hear you.

And I agree.

It’s too hard.

So maybe let’s do it like a baby.

One. Step. At. A. Time.


What if we just started with ONE "I Do" today?

Could we do one? It think I can do one. I think I can do today.

What if we chose to GIVE an “I Do” today rather than looking for one?

What if we stood at the altar -today- and did it all again? Not for recognition - but for choice.

What if we chose today's "I Do"


If we realized that "I Do's" are a daily decision, I think we'd see that our wedding day “I Do” was simply the birth of ten thousand more.

I’m guessing life would look a whole lot sweeter for everyone involved if we all woke up looking for a chance to give an “I Do” rather than take one.


Could we do that?

If we start with ONE - just for today...


What would your “I Do” be today?


My "I Do" today celebrates 4015 (married) days with the guy who swept me off my feet.

In all honesty, I wish I could do many of those 4015 days over again. I wish I could go back and have a little chat with myself and make myself realize that giving the "I Do" is way better than fighting over getting one. I guess growth happens when we are stretched, so I can be thankful for my mishaps.

I want the next 11 years to stand tall on the shoulders of the first 11 though. I don't want to stay the same. I want to grow. I'm sure you do too. I think it starts with today's "I Do"



In honor of those 11 years, I thought I’d dust off some wedding pictures and share our story. If you're not interested in sappy love stories, we'll see you next time ;)



It was my Senior year of high school. No - not when we got married. Settle down.


Imagine a fairly naive but ravenously extroverted home school girl, stepping from 11 years of home education into an entire college of excited freshmen. I was barely 17, and this was the Crown College welcome week. I had never been to school, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew one thing:

I was on a mission.

No - not a mission to find a boy.

I was on a mission for free college. I always wanted to go to college, but paying for it seemed like an impossibility. When I heard that I could take free college classes as a Senior in high school in MN, I was determined to cram as many credits into my year as survivab-ly possible. I was on a mission.


Enter - Jonathan

Before I arrived to said mission, Jonathan, as a college Junior, was preparing the campus for all things fun as a Freshman Orientation team leader.

During his prep time, he confided in his roommate, explaining that he was neither looking for a girl, nor interested in any new freshman coming in because they would be too young for him. (Ironic wouldn’t you say!?)



Jonathan was assigned a group of students to lead for the orientation week. As “fate” would have it, I was on his list! Unfortunately, as a clueless commuter student, I had no idea. “Elisabeth Bird” he would read every time the group met… “interesting name”, he thought, “Unique spelling”….. who is she and why doesn’t she come?


Thankfully, I didn’t ditch all of the other orientation activities like I accidentally ditched Jonathan. I remember curiously ‘sneaking’ into the orientation skit night like a didn’t belong there. My mind was instantly blown as my hard-nosed free college mission collided with the uproarious laughter of several hundred of the most fun people I’ve ever met. It was in this collision that I laid eyes on Jonathan. As an orientation leader, he and his friends were performing a series of parody skits to help the freshman learn the ropes of college life.

Together, they were hilarious… and He was the best combination of tall. And Dark. And Handsome.


After that night, I still held firmly to my free college mission, but let’s just say I was more interested in the orientation activities. Later that week, the schedule told me it was “Capture the Flag” night. As a sister to 4 intense brothers, I had a lifetime of night game experience to bring to the table. As I stepped into the lobby where the game was being organized, I’m sure my mouth hung open to match my wide eyes as Mr. tall, dark and handsome went flying by me - dressed in complete camo from hairline to toe, rallying the “troops” to start the game.

His solid camo-painted face highlighted his white smile and when he shot it at me, I’m pretty sure it blinged like a toothpaste commercial. “This guy is intense about his night games” I thought…. “I LIKE it” I decided.

Like any responsible, over achieving, (mildly smitten) home-schooled person knows, it’s important to clarify the rules before you begin a game. As Jonathan led the charge of 100+ students into the blackest night - I ran ahead to the front where Jonathan was - just to be sure I was clear on the boundaries of the game. After introducing myself, I asked my questions, and received my clarification.



I look back at this point in the story and think,

“What in the turkey were you thinking child!?”

I don’t know if I was bold, or stupid, or both… Whatever the case, that was the beginning of the greatest adventure of my life. I’m forever grateful that Jonathan didn’t stick to his statement about college freshmen being too young for him. To be fair though -- He did wait till I graduated and became a real-bon-a-fide college student before we started dating :)



Fast forward 1 year of “just friends”, 3 years of dating, and both of our college graduations to June 14, 2009 when we said our first "I Do".


May it be the birth of thousands more.


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Caledonia, MN 

612-619-3256

elisabeth.gerdes@gmail.com

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