“Looks like we made it, look how we’ve come…”

A slight disclaimer that I love Shania Twain. She was the first popstar that I owned an album of, and I would often listen to songs as an angsty teenager and hope for the love which she sang of in her songs.

I might have even dreamed that, during the musical instrumental right before the bridge, I’d be swept up into my future husband’s arms and kissed passionately. A fairytale moment. Of course. Just like in the book (and film) Princess Diaries, when Mia (the unlikely princess) imagines that when she gets her first kiss her leg will just “pop”.

Well, I never had that leg pop moment. I never got swept into a handsome man’s arms in the emotional climbing of a Shania Twain instrumental. But I did meet a wonderful, passionate and kind young man. And he opened my eyes to the way the world is. I mean, I like to think I have always been compassionate. And I really do think I have always wanted to bring light and love into the world. But did I really know about how privilege works in society? Was I aware of how inheritance for some maintains socio-economic disparity? Did I really understand how much easier it is to make mistakes in your life, and then still be successful later down the line, when you have good parents who support you?

Probably not, if I am honest. Many of my closest and oldest friends will know just how much I messed up in my late teens and early twenties. I strongly believe now that if it weren’t for the fact that my parents were endlessly gracious and loving (even when that love looked like they didn’t), I would be living a very different life. A few years ago, I met a couple of young men who had recently been released from a young offenders prison. We had a cup of tea and talked. I asked them their stories and one of them, just 17 years old told me that he’d been imprisoned for dealing and supplying all manner of drugs. So I asked him how he had got into that world.

His reply? That his mum and dad were never really together, and his mum was always drunk, so he went to live with his dad. One day, aged 14, he and his dad had an enormous row and his dad kicked him out. He was homeless, with no idea of what to do or where to go. He made friends with some young men he met one day in the park when sleeping rough. And they made him all kinds of promises, mainly finance, friendship and a place to stay. Unfortunately, this all came at a cost: selling drugs.

He knew that what he had done was wrong. He was incredibly remorseful. I looked him in the eye and told him that yes, it was his fault. He made a choice in that park. But I also told him of how if he had had different parents, he might not have ended up on that park bench at the age of 14. I told him that I screwed up time after time, but that my parents (frustrated as they might have been) never chucked me out. I also told him, and his friend (who had become a Christian in prison, as the result of an Alpha course) of the love of Jesus; that there is a Heavenly Father who will not ever walk out or abandon or let us down. There’s a beautiful verse in Psalm 27, which says this:

Though my father and mother forsake me,

The Lord will receive me.

And so, back in 2012, I met a young man who really got my brain working and thinking about the unseen disempowerment and social inequalities of our society. And 4 years ago today, 26th July 2014, we married in front of our friends and family. It was such a wonderful day, to finally be joined for a lifetime to a man who keeps me on my toes and challenges me.

Happy anniversary, darling. You’re a wonderful father, and a fabulous husband. Here’s to the next 4.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

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