Forty years ago – June 21, 1975 – I stood in the back of the First Baptist Church of Norwalk, CA, anxiously grasping my father’s arm, waiting to walk down the aisle to meet my tall, skinny groom. We were barely 21, and although we thought we were incredibly mature, we quickly learned just how immature – and broken – we truly were. Rick was a well-known youth evangelist and was currently a youth pastor; we felt intense pressure to have a great honeymoon and a great marriage. The honeymoon, which everyone says is “AMAZING!!!” was not. We hardly knew each other (that’s another story), so despite having read the latest and greatest Christian advice books on marriage, sex, communication, children, and money, we quickly descended into marital hell, arguing hotly and unfairly about each one of those topics. We put on happy faces when we went to church, faked enthusiasm when the little old ladies slyly poked us in the ribs and asked about “you know.” We loved Jesus and we were pretty sure we loved each other – so why were we so miserable? Why did we both secretly wonder if we had just completely ruined our lives by marrying the wrong person? Divorce was not an option to us – it was the mid 70’s and Christians just didn’t get divorced – at least not in OUR families. Even though Rick landed in the hospital with depression within 3 months and I nearly had a complete mental breakdown from the stress and pressure of living a lie, we were stubborn as mules and We. Were. Not. Getting. A. Divorce.
Fast forward 40 years. Tonight at a marriage vow renewal service, as I gazed up into the eyes of the young kid I married so long ago, I couldn’t help but stand outside of myself and be astonished at how far we two stubborn mules have come. Instead of trembling anxiously as we did 40 years ago, this time we confidently held hands and repeated vows of love, faithfulness, forgiveness, grace, acceptance, and HOPE – confident because our marriage has weathered some of the worst moments any marriage can endure and left us deeply, deeply loving each other. The promise to stay together until death parts us now comes with the painful realization that someday death WILL separate us; the rending and tearing of the fabric of our marriage something to dread. But that is then; this is now.
So to the love of my life, let others have the candy sweet love songs as “their” song (nothing wrong with that!); ours will always be Huey Lewis’ “Happy to Be Stuck with You.” And stuck together we are - like the sturdiest, most industrial-strength super glue EVER. Two stubborn mules yoked together with bonds (commitments, vows, pledges, promises, oaths) that hold infinite sweetness.