Nineteen years ago, on this very day, I said “I do” to the young man of my dreams. Nine months before our wedding day, on my 20th birthday, my handsome high school sweetheart proposed to me in a tiny adoration chapel. His magnificently planned-out proposal began with a song he wrote and played for me on his guitar, then he washed my feet and promised to serve me and our future family. He did all this right there in the presence of Jesus who taught us to serve one another as he had served. Our wedding day was on a glorious, Louisiana, May morning in my hometown, at the St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church which bore my name. We joyfully made our promises in front of friends and family. Nineteen years later, how have these promises truly unfolded?
“I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad.” Our young hearts eagerly spoke these words not knowing what the future held. Throughout these nineteen years, there have been good times—wonderful, heart-overflowing, joy-filled, priceless, too-many-to-count good times. Yet there have also been bad times—heart wrenching, sorrow-filled, unimaginable, bad times. In the good times and bad, our sacramental promises to each other still stand. Chris can still sneak a kiss that melts me right down to my toes, and we can look into the eyes of our five amazing kids and be genuinely grateful for the hard lessons parenthood has taught us. We have learned to love through both good times and bad—wholly, passionately, sacrificially, and dutifully as we promised to.
“I promise to be true to you . . . in sickness and in health.” Once again these words rolled off our lips with such ease and naivety. We couldn’t have predicted the sickness that would befall our family—the tough years, the loss of our baby through miscarriage, the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physically illnesses that would greatly test those promises. However, we also couldn’t foresee the healthy children we would bring into the world, and the many days of good health and prosperity we all too often take for granted.
A sacramental, open-to-life, Catholic, marital love is not the kind of love depicted in fairy tales or movies (definitely wouldn’t be a blockbuster). However, it’s the kind of love Jesus designs and hopes for us. He never promised it would be all romance or that it would be easy. However, I can honestly say that the promises we made to one another and to Christ have proven to be far better (not easier) than I could have asked for or imagined. How? Because when we said those vows there were three of us, and it’s only because of God’s part in our sacramental union that we are able to fulfill those promises.
It’s in the daily, nitty-gritty, sacrificial, heart melting, good and bad, sickness and health, unconditional type of love that Chris and I steadfastly live out Christ’s plan for us. I can’t imagine being loved any better than Chris has loved me—unconditionally as Christ loves. I can only hope and pray my own kids are blessed enough, as I have been, to one day live out these promises with their future loves!