My sister Hannah kindly asked me to write something for her wedding ceremony. In the lead up to the wedding certain themes kept coming to mind as I thought and prayed about what I’d say. The final version, below, all came together a couple of hours before the ceremony (!). For context, both she and her husband are professional sky divers.
So, I’m learning that marriage requires great courage. Obviously in this arena, it’s easy to link courage to the ‘jumping-out-of-a-plane-kind-of-courage’, but I’m not talking about that. Closer, perhaps, would be the sort of courage I’ve heard Hannah refer to when she describes those skydive teams who’ve made it to the top. She speaks of remaining calm under pressure, having confidence with humility, being selfless, having patience, admitting to your mistakes; all this of course, is great stuff to bring into marriage!
Yet, there’s much more. Today is not simply about setting up a team for a short term objective; marriage isn’t really something you ‘do’ either. It’s about who you are and who you become together, when no one else is looking. It’s about entering into something sacred, something greater than the sum total of the two of you. It’s an offer of an adventure over a lifetime and within that offer, I believe, the greatest adventure is that which we undertake inside ourselves, in our hearts. If we chose to.
If we chose to, because at times, that journey of growing ever closer requires great vulnerability, and vulnerability can be frightening and uncomfortable, hence my reference to courage. Obviously in your professional context, vulnerability is something that requires careful management; risks must be minimised in order to enjoy the experience. But, when we’re talking about the journey of two hearts, the ultimate experience occurs when vulnerability is actively sought after and embraced by both. To love is to be vulnerable. In marriage emotional risks have to be taken over and over, sometimes with incredible reward, sometimes with none whatsoever.
In the Greek language, there are many different words for love which describe the different expressions it can take, for example romantic love, that of a long term friendship or the love of a parent for a child. There’s another kind though, which is called ‘Agape’, which means to love unconditionally, without expectation of return, nor being influenced by circumstance. This I have always thought, is the boldest kind of love and there are times in marriage when we need to be that bold.
Your safety however in loving like that and daring to be vulnerable, begins today with the public commitment you are making to each other. Your safety begins with the resolve, reflection and honesty with which you are taking your vows. But, within the framework of these vows and this commitment, don’t seek out safety. In fact, my prayer for you guys is that you enter into this marriage daring greatly and with much courage. Daring greatly as you explore the terrains of each other’s hearts; the joys, the pains and even, or rather especially, the no-go areas. Daring greatly as you learn to love in all the forms that love can take.
This journey of your hearts moving towards each other over a lifetime, I believe, is one of the most courageous acts offered to us here on earth. Yet, only a few truly take on this challenge together. My prayer is that you two, will be among those who do.