The following letter was sent to the son and future daughter-in-law of someone close to me. It is offered here (with very few changes) for all men and women – married or single – to see clearer what marriage is really about.
I know you know this. But let me write it anyway. Only the Holy Spirit can form a marriage. Only He makes a man and a woman ONE. Romance cannot do it. Sex cannot do it. Success and society cannot do it. Look around you. All that only results in terrible division, heartache, and broken homes, where selfishness and loneliness rule.
Loving each other means dying to self. Love means laying down your life for the one you love. And sometimes that is a great pleasure. Sometimes it is a great pain. But in the long run, it is the greatest treasure of life to look behind you and see that you have truly learned, through good times and bad, to die to your own wishes for the sake of your loved one, and to see at the end of it all, that you have learned to love – REALLY love. We are all still learning.
So embrace the process of learning how to love. It begins when the romance seems to be less and the demands of every day living comes upon you. It begins when you lay down your false expectations of having all your needs met by your spouse. It is in those uninspired moments that you will find real love is waiting to lift you higher than you could have ever believed possible.
I would have spoken the following words over you both had I been able to accept your invitation to officiate. They come from a song written by Don Francisco:
I could never promise you on just my strength alone,
That all my life I’d care for you and love you as my own.
I cannot see the future. I only see today.
Words that last a lifetime are more than I can say.
But the love inside my heart today is more than mine alone.
It never falters, never fails, never seeks its own.
So by the God who gives it, and Who lives in me and you,
The words I say to you today are words I know…I’ll do.
Beautiful weddings become ugly when followed by ugly marriages. Make your wedding ever more beautiful by polishing the memory of it with daily deeds of kindness, care, and selfless affection in service to each other. This will retroactively pour lasting Reality into the all too brief wedding ceremony. You think the ceremony is beautiful on that day when it happens. Wait till you see how beautiful it is becoming with every year that passes when seasoned with forgiveness and faithfulness. The fruit of surrendering your lives to the Holy One who created marriage brings a love that empowers you with His. So embrace the process of learning how to love each other…well.