Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: MARRIAGE (08/25/16)
- TITLE: Marriage: Two Syllables; Two People; One Lifetime
By Noel Mitaxa
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Back in 1975 I married a beautiful young woman. We were very much in love, we married for better or for worse, and our first few months were a real growth experience.
Just over a year later, I’d reached the stage where I had every right to marry a younger woman. So I did.
Her anticipation grew through all the planning leading up to the big day. And when that day finally came, the church was packed with guests and well-wishers.
I was excited to stand before them all with her―and with her husband-to-be. My newly-minted marriage license was coming in handy....
It was a privilege to share their joy and to anoint their commitment to each other with God’s blessing. And though I’ve married hundreds of other couples since then, I still count it a privilege to be asked to officiate.
Up close, the eyes of the bride and groom are shining as they lovingly and publicly commit to sharing their whole future together. I’m flanked by the aura of their joy as I look out from between them to address the congregation; where I see many other eyes also shining.
Jesus’ first miracle turned water into wine and saved a wedding in Cana from disaster. I’ve also been blessed to see miracles kick-started at weddings as the bride and groom exchange their vow. There’s often an extra shine in the eyes of those couples who head my way after the ceremony is over.
I also like to encourage young singles to consider the significance of the vows their friends are making, so they may file their own assessments of marriage more positively.
The eyes of others present are a mix that ranges from joy through dullness or even distance. Most of them are also single, but they have had marriages end in the pain of death or divorce. I like to invite them to recognise that they have outlived these past heartaches, so they may allow God’s unmistakable healing touch into any persistent, lingering pain, and discover all they may yet bring to their world.
Not everyone responds, but one lady’s words have stayed with me, “I have always dreaded attending weddings because I’m divorced. But today, for the first time, I feel affirmed. Thank you!”
The expense and expectation focused on the big day can overload the idealism factor; but underneath all this, an imperfect man and an imperfect woman are offering themselves exclusively to each other. And since we are their witnesses, I always pray we will know God’s wisdom: about when to step up for support in their stress; and when to step away and give them space to develop their strengths.
Then God―whose middle name is love―can help to turn a wedding with all its glamour into a marriage that bonds couples in their unglamorous everydays. For it’s here we all may discover the strength of belonging to each other – as the “one flesh” which God ordained in his Genesis primer (chapter 2:24) and which echoes through the gospels and New Testament letters.
Our 1975 wedding photos show us as two kids with thick hair and thin waists, features which have since somehow conspired with each other to swap places. We had much to learn, but we’re grateful for what marriage is still teaching us – to complete each other, not to compete with each other.
Today my laptop’s screensaver photo shows us two having grown to fourteen―spread over three generations. We belong to each other, and it’s great to see our individual differences adding unique flavour to all we have in common. It’s a constant source of wonder and gratitude to God for his relentless goodness.
Our 1975 photos also show that we married for better or for worse. I couldn’t have done any better and my wife couldn’t have done any worse.
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