May and June are busy times for wedding venues, florists and other businesses that serve the needs of wedding planners. I have attended a couple of weddings this season myself, and whenever I do, I always reflect on the meaning and purpose of relationships and marriage.
From time to time, I have the privilege of standing before two people who have chosen each other as life partners. On that bit of holy ground, I offer to them my thoughts on relationship and marriage. I offer my reflections today to blog readers whose hearts may be questioning the purpose of their own relationships or marriages.
It is good to review, to remember God’s stated intent. This is the heart of what I believe:
The command of God to love one another is recorded in a primary spot, as one of the first two of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20.)
In the New Testament, Jesus underscored the importance of love as the first two commandments:
“Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus also said that “the whole rest of the law hangs upon these two”: that if we fulfill these commands, we will fulfill them all (Matt 22; Mark 12.)
When we are engaged in relationship with each other – family, friends, co-workers, teammates…, we are participating in a great mystery that touches our very souls. All of us know to the core of our being that we were created for relationship. Our hearts, souls, and minds yearn for meaningful connection –
to fully know, and to be fully known
… by God and
. . . . each other.
In the deepest place in our hearts, we know that when we invite one another into relationship – we join the voice of God as He calls us into unity with Himself and each other. (That is why our eyes tear up at weddings; it is the closest thing we have to whatever it is we want – our hearts recognize it!)
In the relationship called marriage, the sacrament of marriage, the bride and the groom join their voices and call one another to come together for a lifetime celebration of intimate relationship as it was intended to be. Marriage, with its passionate and exclusive commitment, is intended to symbolize and to be a model for the relationship between God and His Church.
And, in the joining of the masculine and feminine characteristics which are present in Bride and Groom—both of them, as are we, made in His image; in this joining, the Image of God has the greatest opportunity to shine through their marriage, and into their children and into the world – a testimony of Love.
I confess that whenever I attend a wedding and hear the vision cast for relationship as it ought to be, I thrill to the truth of it – and….
I also chill to a counter-message, … a whisper in the back of my mind that says, “But it isn’t always like that; it falls so far short!”
Those of us who are or have been married, or have observed intimate relationships up close, . . . we know that it seems in the most familiar – in marriages, in families, in long-term friendships—instead of celebrating together our freedom, instead of encouraging and lifting one another up to become all we are meant to be, … we can be the very saboteurs that limit each other the most, even tearing each other down instead of building one another up. The disillusionment and disappointment when that happens is profound.
And yet, it does not have to be like that! The good news is that we get to choose. We choose daily, sometimes hourly, sometimes minute by minute what we will be – builders or saboteurs of our relationships. We decide what purpose to serve in our relationships. When we encounter difficulty, when faced with the friction of life together,
we will choose:
to be transparent and honest – or to hide from one another
to serve – or to insist on being served
to invest – or to hoard our relational resources.
and through our choices, we model:
judgment – or forgiveness
condemnation – or grace.
So, we come to a wedding, knowing in our heart of hearts that the union of this bride and groom is a most excellent opportunity for them to experience God’s best – to fully know and fully be known. They can model for their children this vision for marriage. And in their marriage, the world has another chance to get a glimpse of God in His glory, coming together with His bride, the Church; their marriage—as a symbol of the passion of God for His people.
And we come to a wedding also a bit anxious, knowing it will not be easy.
But though not easy, yet not impossible. “Greater is He who is in [them] than He that is in the world.” (1John 4:4)
In their choice to acknowledge God, as they choose to serve one another in their marriage and with quick forgiveness when they miss the mark, I pray that all Brides and Grooms will always remember the purpose and joy set before them on their wedding day.
Mary often characterizes herself as “a seeker of Truth” and has a long-standing fascination with human behavior and motivation. Her education consists of lay and discipleship counseling, independent study about the integration of psychology and theology, counseling and human sexuality. She also holds a BS in Human Services and an MA in Psychology from Regis University.
Mary attends a Friends (Quaker) Church.
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