This month Bo and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. Every year we relive the ceremony again, reading the same psalms, prayers, and our friend Christina’s beautiful sermon. We look through our wedding album and remember the fresh joy of that day. This year, I asked Bo, “What about marriage has surprised you?” Together we came up with this list.
1) Marriage can be amiable and companionable. When we were engaged, we were repeatedly warned how challenging marriage can be and how much work was required. We have been surprised, that despite the challenges, marriage is a quite comfy, relaxed institution. Drinking coffee, taking strolls, rolling around the floor with our children, or catching up on each other’s days, are all a part of the easy joy of being married.
2) Just how deep the marriage union is. In the first wedding ceremony in Scripture, Adam describes Eve as, “Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone”-- two distinct bodies joined as one. We have found, even when we are physically apart, we are always together. In marriage, you deeply imprint each other’s souls and bodies. When one of you is hurt, the other hurts. When one of you feels joy, the other is joyful. It is hard to imagine that you can so strongly identify with another person, but we suppose this is the redemptive mystery of one flesh.
3) Marriage has limits, but it is also limitless. It’s true when you marry, you say goodbye to all sorts of possibilities. I thought I would be a single woman, doing missionary work all over Latin America, writing books, traveling, drinking coffee in cool cafes, and staying up late -- but God had other plans. The door shut. We were restricted to one wonderful person, with one shared future. But, with that shut door, a thousand more opened with all the ideas, moments, and experiences we could have together. Not only do we have this life together, but we also experience the limitlessness of each other’s souls -- complex, deep, and meant for eternity. It would require more than a lifetime for Bo and me to truly know each other, and we are always surprising one another.
4) Your marriage matters to your community. It is typically thought that marriage is about the desires of two people, but the Christian conception is that your marriage is not only a blessing to each other, but also to your family, your friends, and your entire community. Your life together, the redeeming grace God gives you to love each other sacrificially, is and was always intended to bless others.
5) Marriage is a good, but not the only thing. C.S. Lewis in A Grief Observed describes how, even after he was married, he still needed and wanted more. Marriage could not fill that part of his soul intended for God alone. We have said a lot of wonderful things about marriage, but let’s now put it in its proper place. It may be a noble, godly institution, but it does not come close to God himself. Our relationship with him is first and our marriage should only serve that relationship. It is as Saint Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until we find our rest in thee.” We find true love with Jesus first.