I used to be one of those people who thought it was rather silly to cry at weddings. Then I had three daughters. Now, every wedding I attend is through the lens of a mother who will one day witness a ceremony binding her child to another. We recently attended a wedding: it was simple, beautiful, authentic and fun – just like the couple being wed. One of the pastors officiating the ceremony used lovely metaphors to describe the process of marriage: dance and architecture. She talked about how with dance, you must know your own steps, stay in your own space, improvise when necessary and merge your style with that of the other dancer(s) and the choreographer. She also drew parallels between the design of a building, the importance of its foundation and how collaboration can enhance a structure’s ultimate form. These apt word pictures were drawn directly from the lives of the bride and groom, but were applicable and relevant to all in attendance. In closing, the pastor advised the newlyweds to re-read one of the passages from their ceremony when the dance of their marriage yielded missteps or the blueprint didn’t show them the way out of a conflict. The passage was a well known one: 1 Corinthians 13.
And then came their vows:
In the presence of God and all those present here today, I give myself to you. I promise to love and sustain you in the covenant of marriage, from this day forward in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow. I promise to love you without reservation, to encourage you and to comfort you. I promise to laugh with you, to cry with you, to grow with you, to always be open and honest with you and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.
As they repeated these vows, I whispered to J, “This is what they should go back and read. Because when you’re saying your vows, you don’t really believe the sickness will come or that sorrow could ever be a part of your life together. You’re too wrapped up in the joy to see that coming.”
“Sounds like a blog post to me,” he whispered back. I spent the rest of the night off and on thinking about vows and their importance, mentally composing this post long before I had the chance to actually sit down and type it up.
I love what these vows promise: specific actions (to laugh, to cry), specific ways to care for each other (encouragement, comfort), all no matter the circumstances (sickness, health, plenty, want, joy, sorrow). As I watched the bride and groom dance, I found myself thinking that I hoped my daughters wouldn’t say their vows too soon. This was perhaps an odd thought since J and I married young – I was twenty-three, he only twenty-one. I’ve never regretted marrying early because I married the right man. I’ve loved him day in, day out through fourteen years of marriage and I love my life with him. But do I want my daughters to marry that young?
At which point I realize what I really have known all along – that who they say their vows to is far more important than when they say them. Just this weekend, my mother-in-law was sharing that one of her criteria for a boyfriend was that he had to be the kind of boy who would swing on a playground. She didn’t want to date someone who wasn’t fun. Ten year old A piped up, “Yep. That’s my criteria, too.” I laughingly replied that she should probably create her own criteria instead of using someone else’s. I told her I was very thankful I’d managed to find a man who loves books as much (if not more) than I do.
I hope each of my daughters will have their own criteria for what they want in a man. I hope they find someone who loves them for who they are, someone who pushes, prods and encourages them to be who they were made to be, someone who thrills their hearts and brings them joy. I hope they’ll find someone worth vowing to spend their life with. But it’s totally fine with me if we wait a few decades for that to happen…
|K Dancing at her uncle and aunt's wedding, 2006|