They sat, side by side, poised yet uncomfortable. Married almost 56 years, they came to share their wisdom and experience with kids younger than any of their own grandchildren. As they spoke of dating and marriage and child-rearing you could both see and hear the love they had for one another and for their God. Faithfully and un-assumedly following His leading, they’ve lived a beautiful, rich life. Ministering to people all along the way, they’ve journeyed side by side. The grace, humility and sage-wisdom poured from them both. They readily admitted their shortcomings and praised one another for their strengths. A picture of love, perseverance and grace, listening to them felt like a beautiful privilege. Specifically, the way he spoke of her strength and dignity and grace touched my heart; he not only still loved his bride of 55+ years, but much more so than the day they wed. She sat, silent, with tears streaming, as he praised her child-rearing and patient love for him. The mutual love, loyalty and respect exemplified the selflessness necessary for a marriage to thrive.
This summer, we enjoyed attending four weddings and, at least three times I started writing about them but never finished. Each wedding had the usual beautiful bride, nervous groom, loving family, sweet bridesmaids, fun groomsmen, ball jars, and lots of lace and burlap. Above all these typical similarities, though, one stood out: each groom was enraptured with his bride. Each groom stood, beaming–at least two with tears–watching his beloved walk down the aisle. Each man possessed a gentleness and beauty of expression that showed his complete devotion to the woman walking to join him. Enraptured and heart-captured, as I’m sure the 80-year-old man had been 56 years ago.
As I reflect on those young grooms and the much older groom sitting in front of the classroom last week, I’m struck again by the beauty of love and the gift of a partner in life. Through all we encounter in this oftentimes hostile world, a loving life-partner is pure grace. Even in less-than-perfect marriages, having someone with whom to share life is a gift. And we so often squander the gift don’t we? Or forget it’s a gift at all.
It’s my prayer today that if we’re married, we remember the gift of our spouse. And it’s also my prayer today, that each of those 4 grooms will have the privilege of sitting next to their bride in 56 years and being even more enamored of her then than he was on their wedding day.