A Letter to a Bride and Groom
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face…” (I Corinthians 13:12a ESV).
You’re preparing to spend the rest of your lives together. Wedding plans are coming along, though I know. I remember. All those last minute details. All the “What ifs”–like…
- What if the weather doesn’t cooperate?
- What if someone gets sick and doesn’t show?
- What if we forget something?
Let me tell you–it won’t really matter. Not in the big scheme of things anyway.
If it rains, you’ll still be married at the end of the ceremony.
If a groomsman or bridesmaid is under the weather, he or she will be missed, but the show will go on.
And if something you think is important now — regarding flowers or food or another festive this-or-that — is forgotten, no one will ever know.
I mean it. So don’t waste your time worrying. Don’t ruin the joy of this moment by looking too far ahead, fretting over things you really can’t control.
What matters most is that which will endure, given you–
Fight for it like it’s a life or death situation.
Because it is. Your individual lives are soon to be forged together through the miracle of marriage, when God will join two and make them one in a manner that is and always has been a mystery.
And, well–there is life and death at stake.
Let’s face it–divorce is a sort of death, is it not?
But loving couples who persevere, despite imperfections, over the passing of time? They possess life. True and lasting life.
I found this ol’ keychain thingy–a keepsake of sorts. It’s old. I mean, really old. Obtained decades ago at our favorite amusement park–Kings Island near Cincinnati, not far from where we grew up. The photograph inside, though tiny, depicts two kids in shorts too short and hair (even Bill’s) too big. We’re smiling, because, like you, we were starry-eyed lovers in search of adventure.
The friendly photographer stopped us as we entered the park, and despite our irritation at the interruption (We were, after all, bound for our first wild ride of the day!) we smiled for the camera. “Cheese!” we said in unison. (The irony still strikes me, all these years later.)
What the picture–the tiny one in the thingy we purchased that day, that which holds the memory–doesn’t show is the fight we had only a few hours later. A silly incident, really? Over a slight jealousy, if I remember correctly. A simple misunderstanding that stirred hot anger, rendered us vulnerable–speaking fiery words, flinging them like darts to hurt the one we loved.
And oh, if that had been the only time. But no. Those kids got married while, well, still kids. And even now, thirty-three years later, with more memories to ever be contained in a treasure trove of keychain trinkets, we still have those moments. Times when fiery darts fly fast, aimed to wound the one we love.
So, what’s kept us sojourning on–two soldiers who’ve fought hard for what we have? For what we still can have–given there’s another day or 10 or 200 or, perhaps even, another 17,000, if we’re lucky enough to live to be 100?
It’s not our good looks, let me tell you; nor our great personalities. Wrinkles are setting in. Just this morning, in fact, I took that first look in the mirror, discovered a line that ran across my left eyelid and down the side of my face. “Well, hello there,” I literally said aloud, all the while wondering, Please tell me you’re not here to stay?
And how about a little bit later, when I was annoyed at another interruption. Doesn’t he know I’m working?
He’d just called to catch up, tell me he loved me, but rather than the cooing of his dove (as Song of Solomon so poetically describes–Ha!) he heard irritation in his wife’s voice. And so did I. Convicted, I thought to myself, Who is this wretch of a woman?
No. Good looks and great personalities haven’t been what’s held us together, solidifying our love. If it was dependent on those, our foundation would have crumbled long ago, because–let’s be honest–that sort of cement just ain’t cuttin’ it!
So what is it?
And what is it not?
I believe we’d sum it up with a portion of scripture that’s often called “The Love Passage.” From Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth–
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (I Cor. 13:4-7 ESV).
Paraphrased, the Dos are demonstrating–
- Patience with one another.
- Kindness toward one another.
- Joy in honesty, when truth is told.
- Long-suffering by bearing with one another’s shortcomings and imperfections.
- Belief in one another.
- Hopefulness, no matter what.
- Endurance with one another–again, no matter what.
And what are the Don’ts when two people tie the knot, promising forever?
- Be arrogant.
- Be rude.
- Insist on one’s own way.
- Be irritable.
- Be resentful.
- Rejoice over wrongdoing.
Even now, as I read this list–those dos and don’ts I promised Bill over three decades ago–I see how royally I’ve failed. I mean… I’ve failed BIG TIME!
But for grace.
But for mercy.
And how? Just read one more verse beyond. What does it say?
“Love never ends” (I Cor. 13:8a).
But who is Love, really? I John 4:8 says, “…God is love.” God never ends? No, He is the Alpha and the Omega—always was and always will be.
His love. Never. Ends.
And His love in and through us never ends, which is something important to remember, because–
“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God” (Psalms 36:7)!
Long ago, we saw a diagram. Perhaps you’ve seen it too. It impacted us, and we’ve never forgotten.
Imagine a triangle with God at the pinnacle and you and your love on the bottom, each of you at one point. As each moves upward, closer and closer to God, what happens? He or she gets closer and closer to his or her beloved as well.
The closer individuals get to God–that being, their relationship with Him matures over time through regular prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other believers–the more likely each will be to experience a closer, more intimate relationship with his or her spouse.
Will they be perfect?
Far from it.
Will they never fight or face difficult marital seasons? No.
Will they have what it takes to press on–forgiving when necessary, bearing with patience those shortcomings sure to be present? Yes.
And when one says “yes” to the Lord, he or she is ultimately saying “Yes” to their marriage.
How do we know this, dear Bride and Groom?
Because that’s the story of our lives. Wrought with faults and failures, a smathering of wrong decisions, but love–Yes, God!–love, and more Love.
And with Him, you can make it too–from that day forward, despite your first marital fight. Because you will look at one another and ask yourselves, What in the world did I do? What was I thinking?
And despite all the fights that will come after, yes! You can make it.
So, here’s a challenge:
After your wedding photographs are made, choose your favorite of just the two of you. Tape this picture to a mirror in your home, no matter where you live, no matter how many times you move.
Then, make it a habit to look together in that mirror each day. The ones staring back at you will look different from those in the photograph, especially as time passes. But they’re still them. They’re still you.
Because, just as Paul says in I Corinthians 13, for now we see in a mirror dimly. But one day…
It’s your love, with God, that will carry you through. It’s what will enable you to persevere when trouble comes, when temptations lurk, when the grass looks greener.
Look at YOU in the mirror each and every day.
Experience the mystery of oneness, that single reflection that comprises the two of you in a miraculous manner, dim as it may be. Imperfect as it will be.
Then step out into the Grand Adventure once more, knowing that, after all the wild ups and downs in this world you’ll see the Source of your love–Yes, of your very life!–face to face.
And remember: Dad and I are journeying with you. We love you very much.
Dearest Savior–You who embody LOVE in all our broken places–please bless and keep these precious ones as they prepare to step into the Grand Adventure called marriage, which is sure to be as wild as the wildest of roller coasters. May their life together be abundantly fruitful, for Your kingdom–both here and in heaven. One day, as beautiful as they are now, they’ll see You face to face, and all imperfection will fall away. We praise You for that promise. Amen.
***For a beautiful song by a gifted singer / songwriter named Steven Curtis Chapman, click here for I Will Be Here.***