I played piano for a beautiful wedding yesterday. The bride and groom looked awfully young to me…and happy. Just like so many of us, they’ve thought about this day for a long time and repeat the vows after the minister with smiles while looking intently into the other’s eyes. Hopefully this moment will just be the start for them of committing to each other and keeping their promises.
I remember well looking into John’s eyes way back in 1988 as we gave our word to one another, our hearts saying “This is for life. I’m in this no matter what.” If God had shown us that day all that we’d encounter together as the years rolled by we’d have been overwhelmed. I like to think we’d both still be game, but we’d certainly be less starry-eyed and looking a little more like deer in the headlights.
It’s probably good that in the wedding ceremony the minister doesn’t go into detail in the vows, saying things like “In sickness and in health, in cancer diagnoses and near-death accidents” or “In plenty or in want, in times when we can’t pay our bills or never have the house and things we’ve dreamed of.” The bride and groom promise to keep themselves only for the other one and to remain true to them no matter what, until death separates them. These days that doesn’t seem to carry as much weight as in years before. What if those promises mean, “I’ll keep myself only for you and stay with you even when you prove unfaithful to me or pull away from me”? Or “I’ll walk with you and hold you even through prolonged times of depression or uncertainty. I won’t get weary and go looking for a different companion.”
Yesterday was my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary. Their life has been anything but perfect, but it has been anchored to love and reinforced by their commitment. Together they’ve weathered many life changes, uncertainties, financial struggles and disappointments, teenagers, pastoring churches, depression and illness….in other words: life. Larger than any struggle is their love for God and for each other. They’re great friends. They laugh a lot together and always have. They’re open with each other and talk things out, making decisions together. They’ve sacrificed for each other and for all of us, their kids and grandkids, and it has not gone unnoticed.
In this day when people want quick and easy solutions to something that’s making them uncomfortable or “unhappy”, my mom and dad’s resolve to keep their vows made now 45 years ago, is a welcome and beautiful thing. They’re living proof that it can be done, with God’s help. People can forgive each other, can offer grace to each other, can really grow old and stay together.
I’m sitting on our bed typing this at 11:35 p.m. I’m not really that sleepy and I want to see John when he gets home from work. He’s taken a job at a local hamburger restaurant and usually works 4-11 pm, so we don’t see as much of each other as before. I don’t know if he realizes that I feel his love and commitment to me and the girls most when he makes sacrifices, when he does whatever is necessary to take care of us, when he’s willing to make tough choices – choices that may humble him or not be his preference. Last year about this time he made a choice to surrender to God’s will even if it meant he’d lose a position he loved serving people he loved. I’ve never respected him more. This year, when my handsome husband dons his red t-shirt and cap and heads off to wait on people, wipe tables, grill burgers and be Jesus to the people around him, I feel love wash over me…more than any bouquet of flowers or sweet card, more than weekend getaways and even loving words. He’s showing me that he meant what he said, “in richer and in poorer.” In good times and bad, when we know what to do and when don’t know what to do, we will face it together. I hear his heart loud and clear saying to me, “I’m still in this for good.”
Me, too, Babe.