I recently attended my nephew’s wedding. It was gorgeous. Stunning. Beautiful. Fresh. Nostalgic. Emotional. Beautiful.
Did I mention beautiful? Breathtaking. A perfect summer wedding at a vineyard with a forever blue sky and fields of green in every direction.
They gazed at each other with so much love. There was so much tender touching…hands on the shoulders, a brief forehead kiss, handholding, wiping away tears. Smiles that took up their whole faces. Eyes only for each other.
And the vows. Oh, the vows.
They were so perfect and touching. And yet, as someone who’s been married nearly eight years, I found myself also feeling amused. My own vows included much of the same language. I will believe in you every day. I will always be here for you. I will always support you.
As life goes, things get crazy. Jobs. Kids. Fights. Slamming doors. Eye rolling. Angry words. It builds. Things blow up, you talk, work it out, and it’s all ok. At least until the next fight.
I could have said that to my nephew and his new wife. I could have said, “Just you wait! Just wait until he leaves all the kitchen cabinets open and he leaves his laundry everywhere and gets home late from work the days you need him most and he snores right through all those nighttime feedings! We’ll see who supports who then!”
But instead, it softened me to remember. I looked over at my husband and remembered back to our wedding day. I remembered how I wanted to believe those vows. I did. I loved him so much (well…I still do…that should not be past tense. Lol). He was so handsome in his tux waiting for me to come down the aisle. I remembered all the things I loved about him in the first place…the way he loved me and chased me for years, how ambitious he was, how much he loved and knew about God. I couldn’t imagine ever intentionally hurting him. I couldn’t imagine a day where I wouldn’t support him or fight for him. But alas, it happened. And we have those ugly days where we hurt the people we love the most.
I realized it’s kind of the same for nearly everything in life. For example, we have these babies. And we gaze at them in the hospital with what almost feels like a broken heart, we are so full of love. I remember staring at Heidi’s perfect face for hours that first night. I wanted to stay in this heaven. Then they get older. They scream all night. They teethe. They throw fits. They make life really exhausting and complicated, and some days, you forget that love and commitment you felt at the hospital and you just want someone to come cart them away. Even if for just a day. Or five days.
But if I think back…pull out the pictures…touch those old onesies…or even hold another new baby who makes me wonder if mine were every that tiny…it puts me back in the that first moment, and it all just melts away. My love and commitment is renewed because I am reminded what a gift they are.
And faith. The hardest one of all for me. I thought it would get easier as I got older, but such is not the case. The more I see of the world, the more heartbroken I become. The more questions I have for God. The more confusing it all seems. If God supposedly cares for the sparrows, and I’m supposed to trust He will care for me…then what about the suffering? What about all the evil that prevails every day? How do I reconcile all these things? Why can’t it be simple like it was at first?
But then I think back to when I first believed. I remember the difference it made for me, a young girl prone to worry and anxiety. I remember being bullied in junior high and feeling ugly and being unsure of who I was. But than came along some joyful people who told me what God thought about me. They said I was made just right by God for a reason and that God was always there. And I put that together with what I’d been learning at church my whole life and suddenly grace became a much more tangible gift. It was something I felt every single day and brought joy and purpose to my life. It gave me so much hope and excitement for the future. And remembering those things strengthens me for today.
It can be so good for us to go back. To let ourselves remember when things were simpler. To allow ourselves to shed all the junk life sweeps in with the tide so we can sit in the sand and enjoy the quietness and steadiness of the waves, holding hands with the ones we love. It enables us to live in gratitude, not regret or bitterness. It can be reassuring to look back and see how far we have come. It can encourage us to keep plugging away at our dreams… to keep loving our people, even if it gets messy sometimes…and to keep working at building a life of faith and love.
Compare the raw, organic beginning to all our fumbling attempts to recreate it. See how all the time and growth and change have made us better. If we can just change our expectations a little bit, I think we will all grow wiser and softer and braver and kinder towards the world. And towards each other.
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. ~Galatians 5
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. ~Isaiah 43:19