My husband was at the bank when he discovered there was an issue with the transaction he wanted to make. He called me at work to ask what I thought was the best way to handle it. I gave him my advice, said goodbye, and hung up the phone. Before I could focus on my work again, the young man in the office next to mine piped up and asked me how long I’ve been married. He had heard my end of the phone conversation with my husband. Maybe he was struck by how much I sounded like an old married women, but I’d like to believe he thought I still sounded like a newlywed.
At this point, I’ve been married longer than I was single. I come from a long line of long marriages. I remember attending the reception celebrating my maternal grandparents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary. My parents celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary just four months prior to my father’s death. Both of my older sisters have each been married for more than thirty years. All together that’s nearly two-hundred years of wedded bliss. And blisters.
Planning a wedding now is probably more stressful than it’s ever been thanks to Pinterest inspired details. Video recorded flash mob proposals, professionally choreographed first dances, save the date cards and invitations, chalkboard message photographs, it goes on and on. The bar has been set really, really high. I can only hope that the expectations for marriage itself are a separate emotional and financial investment for today’s newlyweds. While marriage is the most wonderful and beneficial human relationship I’ve ever had, some days it is hard and it doesn’t live up to Pinterest perfection.
Some days it feels like we’re newlyweds. We laugh and play like children. Those days go by way too quickly. Some days are long and hard and I wonder who that stranger is eating the food in my refrigerator. Those are the days I don’t feel it at all. That’s when I just have to do it even though I don’t feel like it. And I do. I keep doing it, and eventually I feel it again. I have a much greater appreciation for “I do” now. I’ve come to understand that it means I do the laundry. I do the cooking. I do whatever he doesn’t. He does what I don’t. That’s why it works.
First Corinthians Chapter 13 is identified as the love chapter and is often used in wedding ceremonies. It says, “Love is patient. Love is kind.” It also says, “Love never fails,” and closes with, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.” However, it wasn’t written for a wedding ceremony. It’s a letter Paul wrote to encourage the church at Corinth. As new believers and a new church, they were having difficulty adjusting to the responsibilities of their new status and relationships, sort of like newlyweds learning to live together. It was exciting and hopeful, but it wasn’t what they were used to. Paul felt the need to remind them that even though they enjoyed those playful days when they felt like kids, it was time to grow up in their faith. That meant that there were things they just needed to do even if they didn’t quite feel it yet. As contradictory as it sounds, growth is what would give them stability and longevity in their new roles. You can’t outgrow the love that never fails.
Prior to that, in Chapter 11 Paul talks about communion, or the Lord’s Supper. Communion is sometimes included in wedding ceremonies. It is an ordinance that calls us to remember what Jesus has done for us and to look forward to the next time we as Christians will share a meal with him, which just so happens, is a wedding supper (Revelation 19). It’s a celebration in heaven where Christians will finally and eternally be joined with Christ.
Immediately before and after the words on love, in Chapters 12 and 14, Paul talks about spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are the things God has given us to help us be better at inviting other people to that final wedding supper. In a sense, those we bring with us will be gifts in return. It will be such a grand event that not even the top Pinterest plan will measure up, so wonderful that we should probably invite everyone we know. The bridegroom, Jesus, did the work that made it possible for us to be there. That work was on the cross was in no way a honeymoon for him, but he did it anyway. The best part is that this marriage will never end. It will last for eternity. That’s the love that never fails.
The was originally posted October 12, 2014 on The Press and Standard's website: