Yesterday we attended the wedding of some very good friends. It was beautiful, as weddings tend to be. The joy of finally arriving at this moment was evident in the faces of the bride and groom.
Weddings are tricky things. Everyone is looking and acting their best, families that have been torn apart by divorce and deception strive hard to be civil for the sake of the happy couple. Now, I have heard about weddings that have included drunken brawls, shouting matches, and even gunplay, but none of those has been a part of my own experience. Overall, I have seen everyone try to make nice and not cause a fuss in order to keep the highlight of the day the bride and groom just beginning their lives together.
It takes a lot of hard work to put a wedding together. My groom and I had a very simple wedding, but it was still a wedding. Weddings require hundreds, even thousands, of minor details to be considered, disagreed about, and resolved into a plan of action which then must be accomplished. And most details are minor. Even what many would consider the major ones, such as The Dress, the reception hall, and the bridesmaids, are truly minor in the light of having already chosen to spend your life with someone else.
The single most time consuming aspect of our own wedding was revising the wedding liturgy. At the time, I had an urgent need to make this wedding truly ours, and not be just like everyone else. My now-husband and I spent long hours over several days piecing together bits of liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer: the 1979 edition, the 1928 edition, and even a couple of editions from the 17th century I'd found on the internet. We also added our own vows and ring ceremony, as well as the declaration of intent (the "I do" part). It seemed right to us that the focus of our attention be on what we were really agreeing to do in this new thing called marriage. If we'd spent all of our time worrying about the style of the bridesmaids' dresses or what color petals the flowergirls would be dropping on the floor, how would we have known what to do once the wedding was over and the marriage began?
Now, those of you who are already married, may be laughing in anticipation of what I'll be saying next. Here it is: marriage really isn't a union you can prepare for. It's all about on-the-job training. In my opinion, that's the whole point of making the commitment up front. You don't know what you're getting into, whether it's the morning after or ten years down the road. People change and they stay the same. Often, it seems the things we want to change stay the same and the things we wish would stay the same change. But therein lies the beauty of the commitment. It says, "I don't yet know all of who you are or who you will become. I choose to love you for who you are now, all of you that I know and even the bits of you I may not be aware of yet, and I choose to continue loving you even when you may not be the same person you are today."
What good is love if it is not stronger than all the waiverings of human emotion?
And now, I have a confession to make. This has been a difficult morning for me, trying to review the wedding we attended yesterday and remember our own day, because one month ago today, my father and stepmother announced their separation. This morning, I got an e-mail from my stepmom. I honestly wasn't sure I wanted to read it at first. A part of me is very angry at them for not loving one another better. It scares me as I look toward my future, for I have been known to be selfish and demanding. Just ask my husband! I wonder in fear if that will eventually wear down the love we have for each other.
I guess my motto for marriage is something along the lines of "Never give up." Never give up hope. Never give up trying. Never give up pursuing one another's best interest. Never give up praying with one another and for one another.
Never forget what you promised each other that day in church.
I will be your lover, your best friend, the mother of your children, your comrade in adventure, your comfort in illness, your companion in sorrow and joy. I vow to be your wife, to the full extent of myself, and, by the grace of God, remain faithful to you, until death us do part.
Life is hard sometimes. Marriage can be really hard. But I believe in a big God. One Who is bigger than all of my problems and fears. One Who is big enough I can yell at Him and He's not offended. One Who loves me, just for who I am and not anything I've done or not done for Him. I wish I could love my husband like that all the time. Since I can't, I have to trust that God can make up for the deficiencies we have in our love for each other. I hope I can learn better to accept His love in those times when it's my husband who is being selfish and cranky.
In the end, love is a choice. We choose to love each other for better or worse every day. That is the commitment we've made. It's not that I have once chosen to love you, but that I have decided I will continually make the choice to love you. And, I trust that you will continue to choose to love me, selfishness notwithstanding, because you have committed to do so.