I Do… Still
I went to a wedding this weekend. It’d had been awhile for me since I was stuck in those years between one generation marrying and the next. When you’re in your twenties, there are tons of weddings as all your friends start getting married. Then, once they’re all settled, there’s the gap while you wait for your kids and your friends’ kids to start getting married. But this weekend, one of my nieces married, and I had the joy of sitting through a wedding again.
After eighteen years of marriage- exactly, since it’s my anniversary today- I have a new outlook on the wedding ceremony. As a twenty-something, you listen to the vows with all the enthusiasm of youth, certain you’ll overcome any obstacle. You’re certain your love will last and committed to a future together. You’re full of hope and dewy-eyed innocence about what the future holds.
But, looking back from an older perspective and thinking about what marriage means, it occurs to me that I had only the faintest of realizations what a lifetime commitment meant at the time that I made it. No small vow, that. If you marry in a church, you’re making that vow on holy ground, and chances are you’ve attended many meetings with church officials who quiz you about how serious you are in your intentions. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great idea. But it can be intimidating to contemplate FOREVER.
Maybe more intimidating for a forty-something than a twenty-something. I believe every married couple in the church this weekend had a better idea what the kids at the altar were facing than they did. And I realized that’s what makes wedding so special for US, the older folks in the crowd. I had my tissues out, and it wasn’t just because the bride was so beautiful and her groom looked at her with love in his eyes. I was misty-eyed because I’m so grateful that I’ve kept the vows for eighteen years and that I still have a happy, fulfilling marriage to be proud of.
God knows- and those other still married couples know- that it hasn’t been easy. The marriage commitment is unique in that we are promising to love someone with no blood tie to us. Some days, the only thing keeping you together is a promise and, perhaps, blind faith. And that knowledge makes the commitment all the more fragile and worth celebrating. I wasn’t just clapping for the new Mr. and Mrs. on Saturday when the church bells rang. I was clapping for the unique joy of having grown a marriage. The long-term ones are battle-tested mergers, forged in fire and honed by hardship.
But they all started out the same way. With a promise and a lot of hope. Some blind faith and a trust in a commitment. It gets me misty-eyed just thinking about it.
***Three cheers for the newlyweds! Whether you’re married or not, I’d love to hear your best advice for the newly married. When I first got married, I had a magnet that said “Don’t go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.” But these days, I prefer to sleep on it first and see how I feel in the morning! How about you? I’ve got an advance copy of FULL SURRENDER for one random poster here or on Facebook.