There are a lot of fun things about having a birthday within a week of your spouse’s–
The party seems to last for about a week and a half straight, you get to hit all the same milestones close together (but still say that he’s five days older), and it makes it REALLY easy for him to always remember when your birthday is.
This time around, it’s kind of felt like I’m “trying on” what it feels like to be in our thirties before actually being in my thirties myself.
Matt turned the big 3-0 last Saturday, and coincidentally, we’d just met with a life insurance agent the day before to lock in at the lowest rate possible for the next 20 or 30 years. While we were enjoying an overnight getaway and watching Zombie House Flipping on the flat screen t.v. in our hotel (after having gone to see the circus the night before), the insurance underwriter called to ask us some questions about ourselves and our medical history, and it was the first time Matt got to say that he was now 30 years old.
It felt surreal to hear him say it out loud.
A big number like 30 gets you thinking—
What have I accomplished so far?
Am I headed in the right direction?
Is this what this age is “supposed” to feel like?
Because I’m such a math person, I tend to think a lot in numbers, so that’s what I started doing in my head as I reflected on what I know about Matt’s life.
He’s been a husband for five years, is the father of one, and has held eight jobs (I think).
He spent two years in Canada serving a mission, speaks two languages (English and French) now as a result, and can understand a fairly impressive amount of Spanish.
He’s graduated from college and has run a marathon.
He competitively wrestled for years in junior high and high school, winning multiple championships and getting his body fat down to probably around 4%.
He’s gone on a cruise to Alaska and volunteered for several months with a local animal shelter.
He reads anywhere from 20-30 books a year and has probably read almost as many books as I have in his lifetime (which is saying something).
He can pop out around 100 push-ups without trying too hard and who knows how many crunches. He can beat me in tennis most any day (and in racquetball always).
He has served in a bishopric, in a young men’s presidency, as a Primary teacher, and currently as a counselor in the high priest group leadership.
He comes up with a new business scheme about every two months and is always working on some personal project or other, like his novel (in which he’s written almost 200 pages), or his woodworking skills.
He can make a mean open-faced taco and a way better plate of nachos than I can, and he has watched through the 6-hour BBC Pride and Prejudice with me probably more than 30 times.
He has gone rock climbing, zip lining, snowmobiling, jet skiing, and rappelling, and has gone snow skiing once (which is one more time than I have).
But looking over all those things, they are all inadequate to describe what this man has accomplished by 30. They are inadequate to convey his depth of feeling, his level of sensitivity and service to meet the needs of others, his big heart and his ready smile.
Because the fact is, you can’t truly measure a life by numbers—not by numbers of years lived or amount of money earned per year or number of degrees awarded. You can’t measure a life by pounds lost or gained or by number of books read or not read or the cumulative numbers of exotic places that someone has lived or seen.
All of these things are part of our story, yes, but they are not all that measures a life.
When we were first married, I gave Matt something special for our first Christmas together as a married couple—I bought a beautiful little red leather journal with a heart on the front, and I wrote a letter to him every day leading up to Christmas (starting sometime in October). I wrote about what we were up to and how much I loved him, and I pasted in pictures and ticket stubs of things we’d done or seen as I went.
When Christmas came that year, the journal wasn’t completely filled up, which ended up being perhaps the luckiest stroke of brilliance ever, for it has allowed me a special place to write a letter when momentous occasions come up (or whenever the mood strikes) ever since.
And so I wrote in Matt’s little red book on Saturday, detailing 30 reasons why I loved him and summarizing what our life looked like now, at 30 and almost-30.
And while writing all that, I realized something pretty momentous in all of my reflection—
As I reflected on where I myself was on the cusp of turning 30, I realized that I had achieved pretty much all my “big picture” goals that I’d wanted to by this point—but then I also realized that many of my dreams had come at a cost, which was often paid by Matt.
I’d always wanted to get married around 25. Matt wanted to marry me when we were 21. Since I wasn’t ready at 21, he waited–and waited and waited and waited–for me to finally wise up to the fact that we had the most special kind of love and friendship there was, and that I wouldn’t find it anywhere else.
We got married four months shy of being 25.
There are many examples of this, but I’ll stop at the one. My point is, Matt has sacrificed many of his own dreams and goals in order to help me meet mine, or has waited patiently until I was ready to want the same things he did.
I could never convey the depth of my own love and gratitude for this man, not now, not if I spent every day trying in the next 30 years to come. That love, like Matt himself, is immeasurable by any numerical means I can think of.
Matt, you are my world, and I am so proud of the man that you are.
Thank you for being my everything.