I’m on the cusp of the time in my life where every week I’ve got friends on Facebook getting married. Let me tell you, there is nothing more sobering than seeing the people who used to make silly duck faces in high school in beautiful white dresses. Scrolling through the albums of these new brides, I can’t help but feel a sense of excitement for my own romantic future. Whether it be a Facebook friend who I was in ski club with or someone who I talked to once in my life, each wedding I see online becomes another tug at my fuzzy heart.
Now, I’ve never been the most feminine girl. I could crank out a dress for prom and even look nice on Sundays, but I also had no problem kicking back with a video game on a Friday night with my guy friends. However, if you put on the movie “Tangled”, all my girlish inclinations would burst through my indifferent demeanor. Let’s be honest; I had a diary in middle school that has about 30 pages about one crush alone. You could say I’m pretty normal, being so drawn to my girlish inclinations. But let me tell you – I don’t care about my future wedding. I’m serious, I don’t.
If you asked anyone what goes into a wedding, he/she would probably list off a few common elements. The dress, the cake, the color scheme, the first dance. The music, the food, the venue, the ceremony. Do you know the last thing most people initially mention? The vow. The self-giving. The covenant.
Okay, so I’m not married. There is a limit to my knowledge on the subject, but I know what goes into a marriage. (Hint: it’s not a wedding!) Ask anyone who has had a successful marriage, regardless of their religion. It’s sacrifice. It’s commitment. It’s love.
I am fortunate to have quite a few great examples in my life of what sacrifice, commitment, and love are. For starters, there’s my parents Laurie and John. They have been married for 29 years. I have seen them at their best and at their worst. I have seen each of them completely right in a given situation. I have also seen them each have their time to be wrong. Through the good times, the bad times, and even the unexpected times, my parents have been committed to loving each other, and (in my opinion) have gotten even closer as a result. Without asking them, it looks like what has kept them together has been sacrificial love – the giving of themselves to each other.
Other great examples include both sets of my grandparents. On my mother’s side, my grandma Karen and grandpa Larry were married for over 50 years before my grandmother passed from Alzheimer’s/Dementia. They fell in love the week they met each other, and my grandpa took complete care of her (with the help of my family) until her last day. He cracked jokes with her, complimented her, and even flirted with her up to that last day. What made their marriage incredible was, you guessed it, sacrificial love.
My grandma Lois on my dad’s side has been best friends with a man named Bruce for as long as I can remember. They were best friends living across the street from each other, doing everything together. I have always considered Bruce my grandpa. He truly helped raise me as a granddaughter just as my other grandpa did. It was not until 34 years into their friendship – this year – that he popped the question to my grandma, and they decided to get married. Although "newlyweds", all of us who know the couple also know that Bruce has always loved Lois with this sacrificial love, as she has him.
The last example is the best one (and believe me, it’s pretty hard to top any of these). It involves a man who loves me unconditionally. A man who, no matter how bad I screw up – no matter how much I lie, how much I cheat, how much I go back on my promises, has never and will never leave me. A man who even died for me – and would do it all over again. That man is Jesus, and I have an ongoing, never-ending relationship with him. I know him personally. When he died for me, he exemplified the perfection of sacrificial love.
Marriage is a fruit of sacrificial love. It isn’t a beautiful day, or a partnership, or even a list of legal rights. It’s not a promise. It’s a covenant – a promise that can never be broken. It’s a vocation – a deeper calling to a specific spiritual lifestyle.
So, I don’t care about my wedding. I care about my marriage. When (and if) the time comes for me to say “I Do”, I won’t be thinking about the party or the romance. I’ll be thinking of the beautiful sacrifice of laying down my life for my best friend.
“I have never been so sure of anything before,
Like I am in this moment here with you;
And now “for better or for worse”
are so much more than only words,
And I pray every day will be the proof:
That I mean what I say when I say I Do;
Yeah, I mean what I say when I say I Do”
-Matthew West, “When I Say I Do”