Thirty years ago today I stood at the front of a church in Green Valley, Illinois and looked towards the back as my father-in-law walked Cathy down the aisle. My heart was filled to overflowing with love and excitement for the future. However, I’m amazed as I look back at all of the things that I didn’t know then.
I didn’t know that over the next thirty years we would live in three different states and seven different homes. It ended up being that every time we moved to a new state we had a short stay in an apartment, adopted grandma’s bedroom, or an old parsonage before we ended up in our permanent house. I didn’t know that we would end up living in the country and I didn’t know that we would spend the bulk of our years in Michigan (although Cathy says that she figured right from the start that we’d end up in Michigan).
I didn’t know that thirty years later we would have said goodbye to all of our grandparents and one father. I guess I just didn’t know at the time just how important it is to embrace the times with loved ones who won’t be with us forever.
As I listened to a sermon about Jacob, Rachel and Leah I didn’t know that God would bless our own marriage with three children. I didn’t know just how proud I would be of my wife every time she went through childbirth like a boss. I didn’t know just how much my heart would melt the first time I held Nathan, Ben, and Emily. I didn’t know just how much children would change the course of our lives. I also didn’t know how expensive kids can be or how allergic they can be to dirty dishwater. I didn’t know just how emotional it can be to watch your own kid stand before the altar and make his own marital vows, and how wonderful it is to welcome a daughter-in-law into the family.
When we promised to love each other in sickness and in health I didn’t know the trials we would have to go through. I didn’t know the surgeries we would have to endure, the time waiting in the hospital waiting room, or the slow nursing back to health that life’s journey would bring us.
I didn’t really know what God meant by the two fleshes becoming one. I didn’t know that a lifetime of loving one woman could be so fulfilling and that sex would be better thirty years down the road than on the honeymoon.
I didn’t know just how much I would learn about what love really means. I didn’t know very well how you could love someone and not really like her at the same moment. I didn’t know just how much you have to work on a marriage.
There are a million things that I didn’t know that day, but there are also a few things that I did know. I knew that my bride was walking down the aisle towards me and that she had said “yes!” I knew that we each loved the Lord and each other. I knew that we would stick together “till death do us part.” Somehow I knew we would grow old together. By God’s grace, that knowledge is stronger than it was thirty years ago.
“But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:6-9 ESV)