Our marriage ceremony was simple and traditional. Except for a little glitch which resulted in me forgetting to say, “for richer, for poorer,” we made all the usual promises to each other. (Thankfully that richer, poorer thing has never been an issue.) And I’m incredibly blessed to be able to say that we’ve kept our promises almost thirty-nine years now.
But lately I’ve been rethinking our vows – not out of doubt or want, but because of the growing realization that there has been so much more; beyond love, honor, and faithfulness. So...these are some of the things I’ve thought about – things we’ve done with and for each other, which maybe could have been part of our wedding ceremony.
I WILL LISTEN TO YOU
I have listened to you preaching for over thirty years. You say I could preach some of your sermons myself, but I doubt it. Those words have your heart behind them.
I’ve listened to your talks with your brothers and cousin, and my siblings. I’ve heard you faithfully talk with your mother, and your friends. I see how important these relationships are to you.
I remember you singing and reading to our children; your prayers for them have been part of a rock-solid foundation since before they were born. And I still hear as you sing and read to and bless our grandchildren.
I listen as you rhapsodize about God, about history, about politics. And you listen as I read you books I love, even if they aren’t your favorite, or words I write even when they need polishing.
Somehow, we haven’t run out of things to talk about. I think that when we do, we’ll still be really comfortable in silence, for all of our words have revealed our hearts.
I WILL PLAY WITH YOU
It started with Scrabble, then we played so much we stopped keeping track. Cribbage, Hand and Foot, Bupkiss, Chinese checkers, ping pong, Settlers of Catan, Pandemic, Phase 10…I think we will always make time for games. Even when we hadn’t the money for a movie or dinner, we have been together…a little competitive, sometimes helping, sometimes not, but together nonetheless. Even now, in the electronic age, when you hold up your phone and raise your eyebrow, I will say yes to Scrabble.
I WILL SHARE YOU
We adopted the phrase, “I am for you,” from Star Trek. But you are not just for me. You are a father, a son, a brother, a grandfather, a shepherd, a friend, a leader, a student. Sometimes others have needed you more than I. Sometimes you have needed to be away; for work, for play, for necessity, to have time with God, or time with a video game or time to retreat. I will not complain even while I miss you, and I will go where I need to go, so you can share me too.
I WILL NOT BE YOUR GOD
This one took a while to figure out. We are two very different people, and while you do enrich me, encourage me, comfort me, care for me – you do not complete me. And I do not complete you. That job is reserved for God. And with that knowledge is great freedom and relief. I don’t have to fulfill your dreams, direct your path, or comfort your soul in grief or disappointment. I don’t have to be your Holy Spirit, or your light in the darkness. I cannot be sufficient for you. I can point to Christ who is all sufficient. I can walk this path with you, and will continue to do so gladly; but I can’t be what makes you whole. You have filled my life with deep joy, lots of laughter, contentment and adventure, but you are not my god. We have failed each other sometimes, we’ve disappointed and hurt each other sometimes, and in those times, comfort and help and strength had to come, not from ourselves, but from the lover of our souls.
I WILL REMEMBER TO BE GRATEFUL
I thank God for you. You’ve been the best life companion for me. You’ve provided for me, and taken care of me. You’ve sought to serve me with a humble heart. I’ve joked that your headstone will say, “He lived to serve.” But it’s true. That has been your motto.
There are so many things to be thankful for about you, but these are just a few:
YOU STILL LOVE ME
YOU TELL ME I’M BEAUTIFUL
YOU ASK FOR MY OPINION
YOU RUB MY FEET
YOU TRY NOT TO WAKE ME UP
YOU CALL ME WHEN YOU’RE AT WORK…THREE MILES AWAY
YOU MAKE ME LAUGH
YOU LIKE MY COOKING
YOU LOVE CHILDREN, ESPECIALLY OURS
It is possible that we’ll be married for thirty-nine more years…not probable, but possible. And I will no doubt realize that there are more promises we could have made and should have made. But the most important thing for me is that we discover them together.