There is no other celebration on this earth quite like a wedding.
Almost any young girl grows up dreaming of what her wedding might be like someday. I was one of them. Now, I know for certain that there is no other day quite like a woman’s wedding day because I finally got to celebrate my own several weeks ago. The day was beautiful, perfect, and joyful beyond compare.
Though there are so many things to be cherished about a wedding day—the company of family and friends from across the country, the great feast and celebration to be shared with them, the beginning of a new life together—there is one part that strikes me more than any of these.
The weight of the vows.
Wedding vows. In plenty and in want. In joy and in sorrow. In sickness and in health. As long as we both shall live. These are some of the most familiar words around, and yet they hold an immeasurable power. Our family and friends cried at the weight and joy of these words, and my new husband and I shared our own tears as we spoke these promises of truth to one another.
There is something almost ethereal about these spoken vows during the beauty of a candlelit ceremony in an old church sanctuary surrounded by flowers and stained glass windows and pews. They are deep and true and powerful. However, if I have learned anything in my first three weeks of marriage, it is this:
Wedding vows become very real and very practical. Very soon.
On our fourth day of marriage, just as my husband and I were wrapping up a brief “staycation” in our own city, I started coming down with chills and body aches. Within hours, I could barely move, my throat was swollen, and I was running a high fever. I had a terrible case of the flu—on just our fourth day of marriage.
Obviously, this was not at all what I had envisioned in our first week as husband and wife. I couldn’t do anything for myself. What I had envisioned was a wonderful week cooking dinners, organizing our house together, running errands, and learning what it looked like to be a married couple. But that plan radically changed.
As I was suddenly filled with worry about the burden I would cause, my wonderful husband put his vows into action instinctively. He reorganized his schedule several days to drive me to the doctor and to urgent care. He waited with me for hours and held my hand. He made me food. He helped me sit up in bed and change clothes. He fed me toast. He went to the store at 3 a.m. to get medicine. He sacrificed himself for a time to love me first. In this week of unexpected sickness and misery, when I felt like anything but a good or happy wife, my husband proved his vows to me: In sickness and in health. I didn’t have to ask or fear. Rather, his love for me made this his instinct and his joy.
As I reflect more and more upon our love for weddings, upon the weight and power of those vows that bring people to tears, and upon the reality of those promises when put into practice in marriage, I can’t help but draw the connection with Christ’s own vows to us, His people and His church. The institution of marriage, after all, is a holy reflection of Jesus’s love and pursuit of His church, His beautiful and cherished bride. The same vows that we pledge to one another, to husband and wife, here on this earth are merely a glimpse of the sacred vows He pledges to His people—for eternity.
Just as our own wedding vows became so real to my husband and I in this time of sickness, Christ’s own vows must become more real to us each and every day as we rely on Him, for they far surpass any vow that could be made on this earth.
So, why do we love weddings so much? Why do we tear up at these vows? Why do they fill us with such warmth and wholeness? It is because we, as human beings made in the divine image, are designed for this. Because weddings are a reflection of the deep, true, and powerful vows of Jesus to us. They are a glimpse of the joy, love, devotion, and sacrifice that He promises to His church. We are designed to crave this picture of completion and perfection and true love that only He has created, that only He can sustain.
For as long as we shall live. And then longer, for eternity.