Marriage Is An Invitation
Not too long ago I attended a bachelor party for a dear friend. We went to a few pubs around his home city, and as we interacted with people the response from everyone was the same.
You are wasting your life getting married so young.
They all said it in different ways, but the message was the same. Marriage is for when you're tired of having fun. It's boring, unromantic, and a death sentence. Why would you rush down the aisle?
Great question...why would you rush down the aisle?
Have you ever been completely overwhelmed by a feeling?
When you feel like there's something writhing inside of you so immense that if you don't get it out somehow your chest would explode.
It's in these moments that we may try to explain ourselves using words, constructs of communicating thoughts and feelings in syllables and sounds. Yet these words can not contain the meaning and significance we desire to communicate. We ramble for twenty minutes only to discover our eloquent vocabulary falls embarrassingly short of our feeling.
So we move from word to art.
With paint and song, stone and dance we attempt to convey what we know is locked deep within our souls. This practice may keep our chests from splitting in two, but it too lacks the accurate measure that is necessary to communicate this deep seated feeling.
The next natural step is to demonstrate in some other tangible way what is causing us to burst at the seams. So we go out on a limb and make an ostentatious overture to the one we are so desperately trying to communicate with.
What we come to find is this too communicates only in moderate ways the depths of our feeling.
What happens when the writhing inside us is more than a feeling?
When a feeling, which is fleeting, is replaced by love we are faced with one option that will accurately express what is most true of whom we are.
We must express it by a daily pouring out of ourselves for the benefit of the other person.
This is marriage.
A daily pouring out of one spouse to the other for their good, benefit, and joy.
This pouring out is a form of the Eucharist. Jesus broken body and blood poured out so that humanity could live in a new way. The most difficult part of marriage is also the part which is life giving. Dying to self daily in order to love the other person well.
When Rachel and I first got married we got on each other's nerves in a number of places. Rachel rolls her toothpaste tube from the bottom up, and I squeeze my tube in the middle. I slurp my milk when I'm eating cereal, and Rachel inhales hers while magically not making a sound. Rachel makes the bed every morning, and I think making your bed is like tying your shoes after you take them off.
Are they goofy things to get irritated over? Absolutely, but they nevertheless caused strife in our home. There were more serious discussions about how one of us viewed finances, sex, raising children, and the like.
For a long time I saw these types of disagreements and irritations as a way for Rachel to attempt to control me. I thought this was her way of making me into her image. It lead to a lot of defensive feelings on my side and hers any time we got into an argument.
I now see these disagreements as an invitation to be who I was created to be.
Rachel is not trying to pull a fast one on me, and likewise I am not trying to make her do anything that would benefit me either. Rather we are both inviting the other one to be who they truly are.
It's an invitation to die to our old ways, in order to better express our love to one another over a lifetime.
When love is so deep that it can not be properly communicated through words, verse, dance, or a one time grand gesture it can only be accurately spoken over a lifetime. Love is a story that must be written over decades, not days or pages. Marriage is the medium for a divine truth that passes through the hearts of men and women as a way to inaugurate a new creation bursting forth in the midst of the old.
Why would you rush down the aisle?
When you love someone so much no other expression will do, the only logical response is to pour yourself out daily for the life of that person.
Marriage is an invitation to die so that you both may truly live.