I was in a wedding this weekend. You can tell by the 1,000 pictures scattered all over my personal Facebook page, by the 72 koozies that found their way into my bag, or by my wreck of a car that I'm just still too tired to even think about. I wore cowboy boots and fake eyelashes and for a minute or maybe even an hour or so, my sort of Chicago-kinda Minnesotan accent slipped southern. I walked down an aisle holding baby's breath and watched my little brother stand up as a ring bearer, could see my daddy out of the corner of my eye, and I held the heavy bouquet of my cousin ... the bride.
They looked into each others eyes and they promised each other all of the things.
... Through sickness and health.
... Through richer and poorer.
They gave each other rings as a symbol of their love and devotion.
And then they were husband and wife.
And it really was beautiful.
Their thumbs stroked the backs of each others hands and there was whispered laughter. A sense of relief. They did it. It's interesting to be on the side of the bride because you can see the emotion travel across the groom's face. Watch his eyes search his new wife's. See the wrinkles at the corner of his mouth turn up in a shy smile. It's beautiful and perfect and I'm so glad I was there.
There's this part that I keep thinking about.
Even saying the word out loud is heavy.
The Boyfriend, Craig, and I talked about vows on the looooong way home. Weddings. (Settle. It wasn't THAT kind of talk.) I believe in marriage, the idea of marriage, the idea of promising to bear witness to someone else's life forever and ever ... but I don't understand how you get there. There's a shortage somewhere in my brain - stunted, most likely, by a failed marriage.
I told Craig this weekend that the words that people have been saying forever just don't seem ... right to me. To me, it should be old news that you'll love your significant other whether they're poor or rich. It should be obvious, if you're marrying someone, that you're going to love them through cancer, heart attacks, Parkinson's, or marathons. And good gracious - don't even get me started on a ring on your finger being a symbol of devotion, because listen: rings don't yell devotion, actions do. #amen (Also? It should be noted here that The Boyfriend is a saint for letting me work through those tricky sentences out loud without having a coronary from some kind of Manly Commitment Condition.)
I guess what I'm really trying to say here is that vows should matter more. If you're going to stand in front of 1000 of your closest friends, family, and change your Facebook relationship status - it better damn well mean something.
What does that mean, exactly? Well. Isn't that the $72,038,293 question that I've been thinking about since Craig and I talked about it on our 112 hour ride home Sunday. Here's what I've come up with -
You wanna promise someone your forever? You want to stand before God and tell him that you've found your life partner and that he or she is The One?
You don't need a minister. You don't need even need a church. You just need Your Person.
You stand there in the spot that you feel most connected to each other, and you make your promises. And when I say promises, I mean you dig deep. You make the promises that actually mean something. You tell Your Person that it's going to be hard and the door will be tempting some days. That it'll almost pull you out of your living room and across the front porch and that it'll feel good to slam the door behind you. But you promise him or her that you'll come back.
You hold Your Person's hands and you tell them that you know you're tough. Hard to live with, and some days, hard to love. But you also tell them that you'll be his or her battle buddy. So firmly in their corner, resolutely protecting your fragile forever. Protecting what you've both created together and fought through together - from the temptations, from the crazies, and from the people that just want to tear at you.
You tell them that you're broken, and that you know he or she is broken, too. Tell them that you will love them with grace, that you will patch their pieces and mend their tears. But you be honest. You tell them that sometimes, you'll get it wrong, and you'll rub a broken spot raw. You'll forget. You'll cause injury. You tell them that you'll always say you're sorry.
You tell Your Person that you'll be there. That you'll always show up. Right in the front row and you'll clap the loudest, cheer the loudest, and you will laugh the loudest at all of the bad jokes. You will show up. There will be no doubting. There will be no wondering. There will be no wavering. You will show up.
You will look them straight in the eye and you will tell them that you are scared, but you come to them with the biggest, wide open love that you can muster. Hands empty at your sides waiting to be filled with theirs and you give them all of the broken pieces of your heart. All of the charred and scarred and brutalized parts - you hand them over to him or to her for safe keeping because you know.
That Your Person will be the best Keeper of Your Secrets.
You tell them that in your wide open love, there's vulnerability. There is teeth clenching bareness and you tell them - even if it's just a whisper - you tell them ... You trust them. You trust them to cradle the vulnerability in their calloused-by-failed-love hands, and you trust them to never drop it. Like your battered heart, you give them your trust.
You will vow to Your Person that you will never be unfaithful. And by "unfaithful", I mean a very many things. You will never stand with a group of girlfriends in a hallway and complain about him. You will never stand in a basement with bros and bitch about her. You will never offer up the other's secrets as if they're dimes on the street. You will never flirt with intention. And you will never sacrifice your forever with him or her for a night with another person. You will never emotionally attach yourself to someone else because there is only one.
You tell them that you've waited a lifetime for them.
And then, together, you bow your heads and you pray and in a voice hoarse from rusty, never before spoken promises, you tell them,
Your wait is over and your heart can rest. You take a deep breath together.
And then you begin.
(And then you can buy a pretty dress and a big cake.)
PS - Are you married? Tell me what you'd vow if you could do it all over again.
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences.
He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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