I used to like weddings.
There is something surreal about them; everything is familiar, and yet, different. There are the basic elements: bride, groom, flowers, a general feeling of enchantment, and the personality of the couple shines in the variations that emerge. At one wedding the relaxed nature of the couple shines in the simple elegance, while at the next wedding the bride’s whimsical flare, spice and love for life seems to bounce off the over-the-top centerpieces. White rose buds tipped in golden glitter line the isles, and cream colored satin ribbons dance in the breeze. Chairs sit uniformly under lofty trees as guests arrive and greet one another.
Yes, I used to like weddings. But, as I am going through this season in my life, I feel differently about weddings.
The music begins, heads turn to the back of the room, and as the bride makes her way down the isle my eyes are fixed on the groom. He believes in her, and it shows in his eyes. He pursued her for this moment. He has arrived to make promises to be true to her for the rest of his life. I remember when my husband had that look in his eyes–and my heart cringes at how I disappointed him. The vows are made–vows to be honorable and respectful. I think of my vows, and I believe I meant them with all sincerity when I made them. I didn’t enter into marriage lightly, and yet, I still found myself in the place of those who are often accused of doing just that.
My heart beats against my chest when the couple takes their vows. They are making a covenant before God and before the people who matter the most in their life. This is a sacred and holy moment, and this is why I have realized that while I used to like weddings, I can’t say I like them anymore.
Because, now…I love weddings.
Inside of this shattered soul the difference between liking a wedding and loving a wedding is the difference between death and life. Yes, the reminder of how I failed is real, and dreadfully painful–but there is another fascinating reminder I’ve encountered. Now, more than ever before, I am so thankful for the covenant of marriage. A marriage covenant is a vow that a man and a woman make before God that involves promises and commitments. It’s a spectacular thing. The obvious point of taking the vows is to keep them–a promise to be faithful is meant to be kept, and if I could change the past–that would be my story.
That’s not my story. However, my story still has the wonder of the blessing of a covenant. When my heart failed, my husband’s heart held tight to the covenant HE had made. When I was blind, he led me. When I couldn’t believe, he believed for me.
The first few weeks after the affair was disclosed I was horribly confused. My mind was completely out of kilter when it came to making the most basic decisions. On the very first day I said these words: “I’ll be okay if I end up alone.” Interestingly, that same night when “alone” came calling I had a near panic attack. I was lost in a world of fear, and my self-made isolation was a breeding ground for lies and insecurities. My nervous system was a wreck, and all of the tension and anxiety I had been pushing down came screaming out in the way of ticks and nail biting. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? It’s amazing that my husband didn’t turn and run. And, why didn’t he?
Because he made a vow.
Even when I failed–he held his side of the vow. This is the reason I am so much more in awe of the marriage covenant. The marriage covenant was not made for the days we spend on the beach watching the sunset. It wasn’t made for the late nights we sneak in and watch our children, or our grandchildren, sleeping in their beds. The marriage covenant was not made for the Instagram days. The marriage covenant was made for the days that one of us may feel like quitting.
On day two after disclosure, my husband looked at me and asked, “Do you want it to work?” I had already asked myself that question over and over, so sadly, I knew the answer was not going to please him. I couldn’t tell him that I wanted it to work. The best I could give him was, “I want to want it to work.”
In that moment, when I might have given up, he wouldn’t quit. My husband remembered our covenant–for the both of us.
Brennan Manning talks about a time in his life when he longed for “more”. The unattainable “more” was leading him and his choices. First he searched for “more” in military accolades, then he searched for “more” by chasing his dreams of being a writer, until finally he had an encounter with God and he was given a glimpse of everything that Christ truly is. He describes it in All Is Grace,
It was not that I found the more but rather the more found me. Christianity was not some moral code; it was a love affair, and I had experienced it firsthand.
We have made a covenant with our Lord, and He longs to have a love affair with us. It’s a love affair that is made stronger by the covenant–a lot like a husband pursuing his wife whom he adores. And in the same way that my husband believed when I was trapped in a place of doubt, when we cannot find the unattainable more God allows His more to find us.
God longs for us with the same furious love that a husband longs for a wayward wife. He wants so badly to bring us back into the relationship that we once had, and He will stop at nothing in that pursuit.
The weddings of Kings and Queens, of Dukes and Royals, the wedding of even the fairest young Princess does not compete with the glorious day that we made that covenant with our Lord. Every wedding I attend reminds me of the strong man I married and of the faithful God who pursued me.