I’ve been trying to blog for days (and days and days) and everything keeps coming out jumbled and messy and I am facing a complete inability to think linearly. Instead all of my thoughts come in bursts and flashes that I can’t quite manage to capture and organize. So the options are to wait until I’ve ironed things out neatly and can present them one at a time like so many articles of clothing folded just so inside my drawer. Or I can go with the jumbled mess, something more like the pile of unsorted, dirty laundry sitting in the hamper. And on top of it. And on the bathroom floor. Which I suppose is truer anyway.
Last weekend we went to Indiana for the wedding of some dear friends of ours. The wedding was sweet and fun and I loved being able to share in the joy of our friends as they began married life. Weddings are a different experience for me now that I am married. In one sense, I feel more joy and excitement for the couple as I know what it is they are stepping into and what they have to look forward to. But I am also always struck with a sense of awe, understanding that I am witnessing a miracle, or rather the beginning of one. I don’t exactly believe that in the moment of the wedding ceremony, you magically become one, but I do believe that through the process of marriage your hearts are knit together in an inexplicable way. Somehow two people who didn’t even know the other existed a matter of years ago become a family. It’s beautiful to witness in someone else and it’s astounding to experience for yourself.
There’s so much of the daily parts of marriage that seem unremarkable, but I never want to forget that every day I am living out part of a miracle. It’s why I wrote the words of my wedding vows so carefully, “Jonathan I love you. I choose you today and every day as my husband, my helper, and my best friend…” The miracle is not just that I fell in love with him when I was nineteen. And it isn’t just that I spoke those vows to him one day last June. The miracle is also that I wrote these same words across my bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker just last week. It’s that when I come home from work at night he wraps his arms around me in a hug so big it lifts me up off of the floor. It’s that I chose him on my wedding day and I chose him when I woke up this morning. That I will choose him tomorrow and that I will choose him on the day I die. The miracle is God giving two sinful, unfaithful people the measure of grace necessary to choose this kind of faithfulness on a daily basis. The miracle is that after being together for nearly five years and married for more than one, I am still in awe that I get to choose him.
I recently started a new job in a large office full of new people. It’s been a challenge to not only learn about the work itself but to try to get to know the people working around me. Everyone has been very nice to me, but it’s hard not to feel isolated in my little cube while I listen to the other girls making lunch plans, talking about hanging out on the weekends and visiting each others’ cubes where they whisper and laugh. One thing I’ve noticed though is how rarely they talk about their husbands or boyfriends in a positive light. It seems that all that they have to say about them is something stupid they’ve done or how annoying they are. Of course, I don’t believe for a minute that this is all they feel about their husbands/boyfriends, but I wonder why it is that it’s so much easier for people talk about their spouse’s shortcomings than to talk about their good qualities.
I think it has to do with the view of marriage that is so prevalent in western culture. That marriage exists to make us happy. If this is the point of marriage, then it follows that people are intolerant of anything that makes them unhappy in their marriage. If the success of a marriage is measured in happiness and the only obligation people feel is towards their own happiness, it’s no wonder so many marriages end in divorce. If marriage is seen as something primarily self-serving it will ultimately fail.
Marriage is about becoming more holy. It is a partnership that spurs one another towards holiness. It is about laying down your life for someone else. It is about showing love and grace and compassion and forgiveness even when you don’t feel like it. It is about encouraging, speaking words of life instead of words of destruction, putting someone else’s interests before your own. The “happiness” of marriage flows out of the security of having someone who chooses to love you unconditionally, not out of your total agreement with every word that comes from their mouth or how they handle every situation. It is the overwhelming certainty of having someone who will not leave you when they grow tired of you and will not turn to someone else when they are discontent.
Living out this kind of self-sacrificing, intensely faithful marriage is impossible for a human. But nothing is impossible for God, and He is willing to share that power with us. And that, too, is a miracle.
Just for fun, a few of my favorite pics from our wedding as photographed by the lovely and talented Asharae Brundin Kroll and Taylor Horton. (If you need a photographer, hire one of them. They are excellent and they travel.)