On May 17, 1986, Tracy Proctor and I said “I do” at the Unity Baptist Church in Newnan, Georgia. Today we celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary.
Decades later I still vividly recall our first date. Tracy answered the door, and her appearance left me breathless. I thought to myself, “Why are YOU going out with ME?” Thankfully, I possessed enough self-possession not to ask.
The first date led to a second and a third as days turned into weeks and months. The following Christmas I popped THE Question. She amazed me yet again by saying, “Yes.”
Despite watching the video repeatedly, much of the wedding service remains a blur in my memory. However, I remember the weight of those sacred vows: “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.” Other than the death-parting thing, we’ve hit them all.
We quickly discovered that a wedding is a day but a marriage is a lifetime. The statement sounds like a cliché because it is, but clichés begin as truths. Couples that endure faithfully fulfill their vows one day at a time.
In traditional wedding services, the minister never asks the bride and groom if they FEEL in love. Instead, the pastor charges the couple with questions that begin with the words: “WILL YOU?”
We learned that love is both feeling and willing. Sometimes we acted in love because we felt in love. Other times we acted in love because we willed our love. Then we found the feelings all over again.
Tracy has seen me at my best and worst and loved me still. She accepts me for who I am but has never let me settle for any less than who I could be. Her gracious love transformed me into a better husband, son, father, pastor, and child of God.
Most love letters remain private and rightfully so. On the occasion of our 30th Anniversary, however, I wanted to publicly share how God has so richly blessed me in and through my wife, Tracy Proctor Burch.
I love you.