Tabitha Panariso is a fierce warrior for Jesus. It's not an exaggeration to say that more than once her "question of the day" has sent me to my knees and right back into the presence of Jesus. And on top of all that fierceness and intensity her she and her little family are about the sweetest thing you could ever come across. I really think you are going to love her kindness and firmness in her love story today!
I met my husband at Wal-Mart. It’s strange, I know. But, a chance encounter in the middle of the night followed by an honest and vulnerable first date has led to almost a decade of marriage. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was less chance and more like an act of God.
We were so young then. I had just graduated from high school and he had just graduated from college. We were both burgeoning with dreams and visions of the future. And yet, we fell for each other — fast and hard. It didn’t take us long to commit to the relationship, with both of us acknowledging that eventually we’d get married. We knew. This thing that was happening? It was serious.
We dated for three years, spending every single second of free time with one another. I fell asleep on his couch far to many times to count, wearily packing up my things and making the drive home at two in the morning. We couldn’t get enough — of the heart to heart conversations, the outright theological debates, and the regular silliness that ensued when we hung out. And, like a crescendo — our dating relationship peaked. We were finally engaged. Then, we were finally married. And that’s when life seemed to really begin.
It hasn’t been all fun and games. While marriage has been sweet and beautiful, it’s also been full of heavy-laden grief and difficult times. In the thirteen years that we’ve been together, it seems as if we’ve packed in fifty.
There’s been college and a masters degree. There’s been job hunting and new careers. There’s been ministry. And, more ministry. And, still more. There’s been a miscarriage. There’s been a new baby, then a second, and now a third. There’s been leaps of faith that don’t make any sense and downright disappointments that make no sense either. There’s been arguments and tears and stonewalling. But, there’s also been joy, celebration, and healing too.
When I look back on it all, I see that we just kept moving. No matter what came at us. We hustled through the early years like we had a train to catch. We were going places. We were running hard after God. Still are.
And that’s been it, all along. The one thing that’s actually anchored us through the difficult and the uncertain and the one thing that has propelled us into situations we could have never dreamed of — is our persistence in choosing God. Over our families. Over one another. Over our kids. And even, over ourselves. He has been our foundation. He has fortified those places that in light of what we’re even going through now, would generally crumble. He’s given us tools through our past experiences and mainly, within each other. He’s given us the eyes to see our marriage as another opportunity to not just be known, but to know Him. He’s compelled us to let broken places be healed and hard places to become tender. God has been the knot in our tie and the link that hold us together.
Simply put, it’s been this great and silent honor of holding space in my husbands life. I get to not just do daily life with him, I get to see God breathe life into him. Because while I loved who my husband was 13 years ago — I love the man God has shaped him to become today even more. To me, marriage is like an open window to an in-progress testimony. And, I’m sure my husband would say the same. There’s just something holy, sacred, and profound in being able to witness a person become more like Christ. It brings you closer to Him. And it brings you close to each other.
I love who we were then and I’m content with who we are now, but I’m thrilled to see who we will be years from now — still deeply rooted in Christ and still very much in love with each other. Because if we’ve learned anything in the time that we’ve had, the one goes hand in hand with the other.