Ten Years of Marriage: The Gift of Difference

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Dear friends,

Lily and I got married ten years ago on July 8. It was the happiest day of my life, and that day has grown in happiness ever since — a ten-year-long day.

I love Lily far more today than I did, or even knew I could, ten years ago. How profoundly love deepens, expands, and changes us. Lily is the love of my life, my heart, my gift from heaven.

In our marriage, we have discovered how love binds us together in the beauty of our differences and makes us richer than we could ever be alone.

Lily and I were born citizens of different countries, Ethiopia and America.

We were born with different skin colors in different bodies, brown and white.

We grew up speaking different mother tongues, Amharic and English.

We were raised in different religious traditions and cultures, Orthodox and Evangelical.

We have different professional interests, the arts and ethics.

Lily and I are wildly different in so many ways.

And yet love binds us together, and we cherish how our hearts have been woven together throughout the last ten years of our marriage. We are the other sides of one another, puzzle pieces, and our families have become family through our love.

Our marriage has not always been easy. We have misunderstood and hurt each other. We have wept burning tears and sat in the cold of loneliness. We have feared our love was dying and had to fight for our love through counseling.

But our lives have become inseparable, and we cannot imagine being ourselves — being alive or happy — without the other. Through our love, we have become a new creation. I would trade anything I have to spend another day with Lily.

We live in a world full of differences: politics, language, religion, ethnicity, culture, skin color, interests, and much else. Too often, we see each other as less or unrelated because of our differences. We become strangers and enemies, and exclude or attack one another.

But Lily and I have found that love can bind us together in all of our differences. And we have found that our new life together is more beautiful and more precious than anything we could imagine or create alone. We were made for each other, not to be the same but to be together, including through our hard and painful times.

Lily is my proof, my gift.

Today I want to invite you to celebrate with us by making a covenant with us, a covenant of Neighbor-Love:

Today I Covenant to love my neighbor as myself. Every woman, man, and child is my neighbor across every boundary and identity. I choose to see and treat my neighbors with value, respect, and practical compassion. Today I say Yes. I am an ambassador of neighbor-love.

We are not the same, but we are neighbors, and that means we are people with precious value whose lives are woven together. Neighbor-love ambassadors are people who passionately will and practically work for others’ wellbeing. This is our best hope for a better future, one that we can look back upon and cherish as a long day of goodness that we never want to end.

You can sign the Neighbor-Love Covenant at: nlmglobal.org/sign. Our website is temporarily down due to the internet blackout in Ethiopia, but it will be up again ASAP.

Lily and I want to thank all of our family and friends for loving and supporting us throughout our marriage. Special thanks to Pastor Dave and Kate Schmidgall for helping us renew our vows and taking beautiful anniversary photographs with us in Maine.

We love you all so much! #NLM

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