Michael and I celebrated 8 years of marriage last week. We usually keep our celebration pretty low key, this year I didn’t even post a picture on facebook(!).
We opted for a night in and sushi from HEB (a Texas grocery store chain, for you out of state folks who haven’t come to visit us yet).
As it turns out, the options for grocery store sushi after 6 pm, in border towns are pretty slim, go figure. But we enjoyed some spicy imitation crab rolls covered in bacon bits with the help of an extra glass of wine and the flowers my husband brought home to make up for the food.
Then as we do every year we pulled out a copy of our wedding vows, looked each other in the eye and recited them.
Here is what we said,
I, Michael, take you, Erica, to be my wife, my friend and my love, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want, in failure and in triumph, I will honor you, love you and cherish you, serve you and seek you until we are parted by death. This I do solemnly vow to God and to you.
I, Erica, take you, Michael, to be my husband, my friend and my love, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want, in failure and in triumph, I will honor you, love you and cherish you, serve you and seek you until we are parted by death. This I do solemnly vow to God and to you.
. . .
By the next day our celebration was already a blurry memory as we were in the midst of a . . . We’ll call it, an intense conversation. My daughter looked up and asked what was going on.
My explanation was this,
“When two people meet, fall in love and get married, it feels like you have everything in common. It takes about 6 months to realize that you have actually married your opposite, suddenly your list of commonalities is far out weighed by your differences.
So when functioning as a team you are amazingly capable of more than you could do alone, but maintaining the union takes an amount of work that is unimaginable on your wedding day. Daddy and I are doing that work (I’m not sure she caught all of it but it was the best I could do, I’m sure she will get it one day).”
I love my husband more each year, but the closer we become the more mysterious he becomes. The more I know him the more I realize there is so much that I still don’t know.
Sometimes in the midst of the work of marriage I forget my vows, I replace them with something far too simple, as if my promise was just some obligation that we “stay together,” refusing to ever divorce.
And though there are moments in any marriage when just staying together takes all the effort we can muster, our vow to each other is so much more, to love and cherish, to serve and seek. There is no passive option, no moping, no doing the bare minimum. My vow is to be fully engaged.
. . .
There is a famous passage of the Bible. St. Paul has just gone through this long explanation about how husbands and wives are supposed to treat each other but then adds,
“This is a profound mystery,” and we all think he is still talking about marriage here, but he goes on to say, “but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
And we all do a double take.
It turns out all the stuff he said about marriage, is about marriage, is also about the love between Jesus and His people.
The work of marriage for us is turning brokenness into love over and over again. As we do it we participate in Christ, in His love, and in His redemption of the world. As we do it we make His love known the the world in ways we will never fully grasp, at least not on this side of death.
And so we begin another year, another mystery. Doing the impossible with a mysterious God who makes the unimaginable real.
Thanks for being here! I’d love to hear your thoughts.