Benjamin and I were privileged the weekend before last to attend a marriage conference with 700 others at a snazzy hotel in Orlando (we stayed an hour away) put on by Family Life. After nearly eleven years of marriage, we made a commitment this new year to refocus on our relationship and go to the next level, determined to have the best darn marriage possible between us.
Apparently, we were not alone in our resolve as sitting behind us was a bent over and white-haired couple in their late 80’s, beside us grandparents married 45 years and in front of us two month old newlyweds. In seeing them, suddenly the subtle thoughts I have carried around at how cheesy and forcibly romantic such gatherings are, looked shameful. Their love was but a reflection that we have a God who is wildly committed to us, madly in love with his bride.
Some topics covered were the main threats against marriage, the biblical basis for the marriage covenant, sexual intimacy, styles of communication, working through conflict, the different roles and leaving a legacy. Much of this was not new to us. However having time and space together to specifically think and talk through the various slants on the issues was. And in this, these things struck us anew. We found it to be encouraging in realizing how much we do have, challenging in picking out key points to grow in and poignant in reminding us that life’s inevitable difficult circumstances (ahem, that would be every year of our marriage) do not have the power and authority to define our lives or the quality of our marriage. Through Christ, we are over-comers.
We had time together for two dates and felt the freedom to laugh and kiss and walk and pray like we were in the days back in Chicago when I was just a girl and he was just a boy and there were no bills, leases, children, wrinkles, thinner hair and extra 25 pregnancy pounds. We discovered that in spite of all the trials and growth, we are still inside, now so much richer and deeper, that same boy and that same girl that couldn’t imagine our days apart.
At the end of our time, all the couples stood, joined hands and faced their Greatest Gift in the presence of the Giver. And in that great ballroom under the blaring lights, we all said our vows again. 350 men and 350 women, their voices hushed–some emotional and some tender, some still unsure yet daring to trust again– we recommitted to stand firm in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, ’till death do us part, so help us God.
So help us God.
I imagine that was a sight and sound that again the angels simply stood around and marveled at, for our words left them speechless.