Today I celebrate twenty-one years of marriage with my bride! It’s hard for me to believe that so many years have gone by already.
We’ve been blessed. We’ve had far more joy than sorrow, far more good times than bad. Over the years, we’ve been in love more than out, and we’ve grown closer together rather than farther apart.
It hasn’t always been easy, Lord knows I’m not saying that! We’ve had our share of hard times and hurt feelings, we’ve said bitter words and kept bitter hearts.
But through it all, we’ve stayed true to a promise that we made to each other over two decades ago.
We’ve lived our lives constrained by this promise – a promise that we made to each other when we were still children. She was nineteen, and I was twenty.
We didn’t understand what we were promising on that day. How could we have? When we said the words, “For better or for worse, in sickness and in health,” the worst we could imagine was having to care for each other if we got sick with the flu.
Since then we have learned the meaning of good times and bad. But our vows have held us together. Marriage is what holds us together.
My brother posted a comment on Facebook telling us that he was proud of us. I really appreciated his comment, and I have to admit that I am proud of us as well! A successful marriage spanning not just months or years, but actual decades has become something of a counter-cultural statement in our society.
Marriage isn’t easy, and we have witnessed far too many of our friends and family who have experienced the heart-rending pain of divorce.
But as I look on Facebook today, I see a post from friends of ours who were married on the very same day that we were; and they too are still together after twenty-one years. I see another post from some of our friends who also share an anniversary with us and are celebrating their fifteenth year of marriage today.
We may be increasingly uncommon, but we are not the only ones. Marriage is what brings us together.
I want to take something back that I said earlier.
I am not proud, I am blessed.
I am blessed to have found such a wonderful woman. I am blessed to have the support of friends and family who love us, pray for us, and give us a swift kick in the butt when we need it. I am blessed to have been given the children that I have. I am blessed to have the in-laws and extended family that came as a package deal with my wife.
I have been blessed with the grace and the endurance necessary to remain married for these twenty-one years, and if God has graced me in these ways, then surely He has done far more so for my wife! Grace is what keeps us together.
You see, marriage is a sacrament. It is a means by which God conveys His grace to us. And this grace is something that I don’t deserve, it is a gift. My marriage is a gift. It is God’s gift to myself, my wife, our children, and hopefully those we come in contact with.
Twenty-one years ago we made promises. We took vows. And God has been faithful. He has given us the grace to keep those promises and the strength to live up to those vows. This sacrament keeps us together.
Today, marriage is in jeopardy. Marriage, once so foundational to civilization itself, has now become irrelevant. The idea of one man and one woman entering into a sacramental and covenantal relationship, the idea of choosing to constrain your choices and actions by the vows you take, the decision to commit the rest of your life to one person only; this institution is profoundly counter-cultural in today’s world.
Marriage is no longer mainstream, marriage has become subversive in a culture without moral norms.
And that’s okay. Nothing spices up a marriage like some subversive and countercultural efforts!
Because ultimately, when I see the heartache that our friends have experienced in divorce, when I look at the disintegration of the American family, when I watch as people become more and more obsessed with themselves and less and less able to give of themselves fully to another; I sit back and realize that it’s okay to go against the flow.
There’s a tendency in life to gravitate towards one of two extremes. We tend to either take credit for all of the success in our life or none of it. Either it was all God or all me.
The truth, of course, is far more subtle and profound. We are invited to participate with God in His works, and He delights in partnering with us in our vocations. He doesn’t promise that it will be easy, but when we live our lives in Him, and with Him, and through Him, then we can declare with St. Paul that His grace is sufficient for us.
Once we were two – now we are one, and truly it is the gift of marriage that has brought us together.
I love you babe – now more than ever!
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