Honest Letter to a November Bride
by Lucinda Secrest McDowell
Only 10 days until your wedding – Woo Hoo! Our entire family is thrilled to join you both for this momentous celebration and I rejoice that God has brought you together for a lifetime of marriage. What a rich heritage you have — grandparents married 62 years and your own parents for 37 (and counting.)
It is also extremely difficult at times.
May I be perfectly honest? Will you allow an older woman who loves you to share how I have experienced God’s faithfulness since I made those vows more than 30 years ago?
I’ll begin by confessing that I wasn’t sure we would make it to our 10th wedding anniversary…
Marriage had been challenging from the get-go. Of course there were perfectly good reasons why this was so, but that didn’t lessen my subtle feelings of failure to discover the ‘key’ to this mystery. We loved each other, loved our four children, and had made a covenant to one another and God, in front of witnesses ‘til death do us part.’
We already had that whole ‘multitude of sins’ thing covered because there was no doubt that each of us had married a sinner. But it was the pro-active verb – to love – that was the deciding factor.
We had to choose to act on our commitment, whether we felt like it or not.
Hon, having just celebrated our 30th anniversary, I can honestly say that I have never loved Mike more deeply than I do now. Deep, as in soul-level. We continue to grow into the very people that we vowed so long ago to encourage each other to become (and y’all will too!) But life has certainly sanded off a lot of rough edges in the process…
But I realize that may be unrealistic, considering the ‘consumer mindset’ of today’s culture. Too many people these days look at marriage as more of a ‘contract’ (I will love you as long as you fulfill the need I have right now, but when you can’t, I’m out of here) than a ‘covenant’ (My love for you is a binding relationship of love and commitment which takes precedence over my changing needs and desires).
Frankly, sometimes it takes a lifetime to make it to that ‘deep’ kind of loving. It’s not the same as the love we felt on our wedding day. It is a love that ‘covers’ the inevitable times when our spouse may disappoint us.
What do we do if there are days when feelings of affection and delight cannot be sustained?
“When that happens you must remember that the essence of a marriage is that it is a covenant, a commitment, a promise of future love. So what do you do? You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling. You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions you must be tender, understanding, forgiving, and helpful. And, if you do that, as time goes on you will not only get through the dry spells, but you will become more constant in your feelings. This is what can happen if you decide to love.” (Tim & Kathy Keller in The Meaning of Marriage)
God makes a covenant with us and we, in turn, make covenants with one another. In my wedding bulletin is the scripture Mike and I claimed on that special day – a reminder of God’s lasting covenant. “They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear Me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them…I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all My heart and soul.” Jeremiah 32.38-41 *
God has kept those promises to us and our family.
Even as I continue to love deeply (some days successfully, other days not so much), I rejoice in the great privilege and joy that is Marriage. I also pray that you two will experience this same joy in the days ahead.
I will be seeing you soon at The Wedding. I will be the one dancing the wildest and hooting the loudest as you become Mr. and Mrs. — a true cause for Rejoicing!