Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding

     I've been avoiding TV this week, especially the news.  Okay, generally I try to avoid TV news as much as possible, because I dont't need experts to tell me half-truths and how I should think about them.  This week however, the news was just too difficult for me to bear.  I don't mean the massive tornadoes wreaking havoc through the south.  It's not the massacre of protesters in Syria that bothers me so much, or even the Federal Reserve's renewed commitment to devaluing the dollar so we can pay even more for gas and food.  No, to be honest, I just can't bear to hear one more news anchor discuss the royal wedding.

    Okay, at this point, I should probably advise all women to stop reading.  What I am going to write in the next paragraph or two will almost certainly offend a lot of the female persuasion.  If you are feeling insulted or upset, then stop reading and go turn on The View to find out what William and Kate are having for breakfast tomorrow.  You will enjoy that much more than this blog today.  Consider yourself warned.

    I HATE weddings.  Take notice, I did not say marriage.  Marriage is wonderful.  Marriage is real.  Marriage is two people having to learn to sort out their personal issues and live together without killing each other. More than that, marriage is about learning to serve and sacrifice for someone you love.  Marriage is fun at times and hard at other times.  Marriage is a commitment, you don't give up when it gets hard, you just try harder. Marriage means you often won't get what you want and you will often be misunderstood or feel unappreciated.  I'm not knocking marriage.  I love being married and I love my wife, but it has taken a lot of work for us to hang in there.  I'm not an easy person to live with.  I am a far better person because of Karlye and that's why God gave her to me. He knew that without her, I would be incomplete.

     Weddings just confuse me.  I'm all for celebrating marriage, but let's be realistic.  Getting married is not the challenge, it's just the starting point.  Half of marriages will fail miserably.  Weddings I remember from childhood were small ceremonies with friends and families.  Afterward you ate cake and butter mints, drank a little punch, then went home.  Somehow that has changed.  Weddings now are gala events with extravagant decorations, full meals, and never ending receptions.  Weddings are  the brides one day to have her way.  It is  her day to demand everything she wants delivered perfectly the way she wants it, even if it means treating her family and friends horribly (I have seen Bridezillas thanks to Karlye). Her parents are expected to burn though 15 years of savings in 4 hours so that everyone sees how special their baby girl is.  By the time the wedding is over, a year or more of planing and preparation has been put into making everything about that day perfect, but almost no energy has been expended preparing for marriage.  I have been told that the reason this is so important, is because the bride needs one day in her life to be a princess.  So, from what I understand, extravagant weddings are big girls playing make-believe.  I told you I would offend you.

     This is why when I hear people fawning all over the royal wedding, my hackles rise.  This is the ideal that has shaped our wedding ceremonies.  This is what we try and mimic.  The whole world is aflutter with the ceremony of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  Meanwhile I sit and shake my head at it all.  It seems to me, so opposite of what marriage requires of us.
  
     Gracie, someday you may read this.  If so, I want you to know that you are precious to me, and the day I give you to another man, I will do so with tears in my eyes.  Tears of joy for what you have become as well as tears of sadness for how quickly the years stole my baby girl from me.  I want you to marry a Godly man and live with him in love and respect for each other for the rest of your lives.  No one will be happier for you on that day than I will be. Unfortunately, I know that I most likely won't have much input or influence at that time.  So I want to write down a few thoughts on the subject of weddings now, while that day still seems impossibly far away.
  
     First of all, marriage is about selflessness and sacrifice.  How completely backward it seems to start out on that journey, pretending to be royalty, demanding everything be the way you want it to be.  Too many brides and grooms wake up the day after the wedding wondering where all the pomp and flowers and extravagant decorations have gone.  The allusion of being a princess has evaporated and the bride no longer can have the world, just for the asking. That can be a hard reality to return to.  My prayer for you is that at your wedding you and the man God has prepared for you can celebrate your love, devotion, and commitment to one another while sill being grounded in reality instead of recreating some Disney fairy tale that you can never live up to.  Don't be a bride who always is looking back at the wedding ceremony as the highest point in her marriage.  Instead, build on that day and make each year better so that each anniversary makes that day pale in comparison.

     Don't fall into the trap of believing that spending lots of money on a wedding will make one bit of difference in your marriage.  I have seen parents go broke throwing huge ceremonies for their daughter, only to see the marriage crash and burn a few years later.  I have seen couples go a whole years salary into debt , just to call it quits before their 2nd anniversary.  Invest instead in you spouse, invest in your relationship, not in pretty flowers that will be thrown away when you leave the church.

     Realize that marriage changes you forever.  You will never lose who you are as a person, but you will no longer be just one person; yo will be a couple.    Your husband will be part of you and you will be part of him.  You will change each other.  His strength will complement you as yours will him.  In marriage the biggest mistake you can make is to try and be two single people living together.  God will have bound you together as one.  You function as a single unit. The hardest lesson your mother and I have had to learn was how to be a team.  Too often I have viewed our marriage as a struggle of my way verses hers.  My darkest hours of life were spent with your mom and me struggling against each other instead of working together.  Don't waste precious time separated from your soul mate.

     Don't try and change your spouse.  Both of you will just become frustrated and angry.  You can only change yourself.  Focus on that and let God change him.  Marriage is kind of like one of those rock tumblers.  You take sharp jagged rocks without much beauty and place them in a cannister with sand and grit.  Then they get tumbled around together for days on end banging against each other, rubbing off on one another, until ultimately the rough edges have smoothed out and their true color and beauty is fully displayed beneath a glossy flawless surface.  I think that is what God intended to happen between a man and woman in marriage.  Your mom and I still have a lot of tumbling to do, but I can start to see how she is softening out my rougher edges and making me a better person.  It's a change that comes from yielding to each other and holding on to each other through the years and trials of life.

     Learn about marriage while you are young.  Watch your mother and me.  Learn from our mistakes, Lord knows I make a lot of them.  When we do something worth emulating, remember that.  I want our relationship to be strong, so that you will know how to relate to your spouse someday.  I want to treat your mother in a way that shows you how a man should treat his wife.  It is my constant prayer that I don't screw up and mess you kids up for life.  Learn from your mom how to be a good mother and wife.  She is terrific at it and is getting better every day.  Unfortunately, God didn't give you perfect parents, but we try.  You make it your goal to do a better job than we do and you'll do just fine.
 
     Having got all that off my chest, I guess I should say I really don't hate weddings.  I just hate weddings the way they are sold to us on TV.  I think shows like Platinum Weddings, and Bridezillas give us such a false view of what God intended for marriage.  I think that obsessing about royal weddings distracts and entertains us, but also teaches us unhealthy lessons.  Money, celebrity, pomp, and circumstance all make for good television.  Hard work, selfless love, and a reliance on God's grace and forgiveness is what makes for a lifetime of joy and satisfaction in marriage.  Why can't television teach us that?