Our daughter, Aly, got married last March, here in Austin. She married the man of her dreams.
Actually, he wasn’t the man of her dreams – he was the man of her “list.”
Aly is one of those decisive, headstrong and gorgeous women who has always known what she’s looking for in life. She’s known she wanted to be a nurse since 2nd grade. She also knew she wanted to someday get married, but not just to any ol’ guy. Aly made an actual list of about 12 things that were non-negotiable, deal-breaking characteristics of what she hoped to find, no, what she banked on finding, in a spouse. Things like: makes good decisions, is a good driver, no student debt, and …
… likes to go to church.
It’s not too surprising that Aly would look for a man who has a relationship with Jesus and likes to go to church. It’s the way she was brought up. There’s hardly been a day in her life that she hasn’t been a member of a church.
But she’s an adult now. She’s married, and they pay their own bills. They could definitely choose to do other things on Sunday morning. Let me tell you why I think they choose not to.
At Aly and Nick’s rehearsal dinner at the Oasis, our whole giddy party of family and friends placed red padlocks on the metal grids of the fence and heard sweet speeches filled with love and encouragement for the newlyweds.
Then the room got quiet as Nick’s mom stood and completely summed up her 30+ years of marital advice in this one point:
“We can all give you good advice for your marriage, but here’s the best advice of all. The first thing you do, and if you do nothing else, you must become a part of a church. What you learn there, and the relationships you make there, will sustain you through the coming years. They – Will – Carry – You – Through.”
This might have just been any old groom’s mother’s speech, except for this little tidbit.
Nick’s parents and Aly’s parents were friends in the newlywed class at church 35 years ago. Nick’s mom knew whereof she spoke.
Mike and I met Nick’s parents when we were newlyweds in our church, situated on the corner of 17th Street and 4th Avenue in our small college town.
Every Sunday morning, we came together in a warm classroom where the leaders had prepared for us a welcoming atmosphere, where we could eat a free donut (yippee, free!), drink coffee, chat with other newlyweds, and hear a Bible lesson from someone who was a little further down this journey’s road.
We made forever friends in that class. Of the 10 of us who bonded closely, 5 came from homes with divorced parents. Not a single one of us wanted to join that statistic. It was going to take work – but we didn’t know how much. We were going to face difficulty, but we had no idea what that would look like.
Now? Now, we know how hard we’ve had to work at our marriages.
Now? Now, we sure do know what trouble has looked like.
Over those 35 years, we’ve supported each other through countless life experiences. We have experienced miscarriages, planned children, unplanned children, job loss, troubled kids, kids going off into military service, divorced kids, grandchildren born healthy, and grandchildren born with major health issues, the deaths of some of our parents and moves to new cities. That’s just the big stuff – so far! We’ve also hashed out life’s questions on jillions of other issues over long weekends of shopping and laughter, until now…here we are. No wonder this was what Robin would choose to say to her son on the night before he married his bride.
Somehow she knew it wouldn’t have been enough to tell her son to be nice to his new wife and always put the toilet seat down. She had raised a fine young man – and this occasion called for her best advice. She had to speak the truest words she knew.
From our table across the room, we nodded our heads as tears welled in our eyes. It was so true. What we learned in church – and the friendships we made there – oh, man. They – Have – Carried – Us – Through.
I’m so glad Robin gave this advice to the little couple. They haven’t even been married a year yet, and they already have a group of 10 friends from church – where they meet on Sunday morning with older, wiser leaders – and they also meet every Monday night for Bible study together. This week, they will have their first Friendsgiving.
(This is their cute centerpiece for the Friendsgiving dinner.)
Who knows? Maybe 35 years from now, they’ll still be gathering around the table together – looking back and being thankful that someone gave them her very best advice.
Encouraging intentional adventure of the grandest kind – following Jesus together with forever friends,
PS – More encouragement here.