In just 108 days, I will wake up and sip mimosas with my favorite women. We’ll cram into the cutest little hair salon and dance around to music as we psych ourselves up for a day — for the day — I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I’ll spend hours getting my hair and makeup done and I’ll probably cry a few times warranting some sort of re-application upcharge. Our sweet photographer will waltz in the shadows and take pictures of my mom and sisters helping me get into the most expensive dress I’ve ever owned. I’ll hop in a fancy car and ride to the quaintest chapel and — with tears in my eyes and the most soulful and joyful smile plastered across my face — I will walk down the aisle to you.
In just 108 days, you and I will say yes to a lifetime of choosing, serving and loving the other.
We’re prepared, I’m sure. Or — really — as “prepared” as we’ll ever be. By the time we exchange our vows and walk hand-in-hand back up the aisle as man and wife, we’ll have read the books and finished the pre-marital classes and thrown up a whole heap of prayers asking for provision, guidance and grace.
We’ll be going into this whole covenant thing with good heads on our shoulders; both in agreeance to a definition of marriage as the Lord defined it and calls us to as followers of Jesus.
I feel really good about it — about marriage and love and trudging through the messiness of life together. I feel like — on some level — we just work. Certainly there’s a lifetime of the unexpected ahead of us — but our foundational expectations? They’re pretty simple.
You kill the bugs and I clean the bathrooms.
I cook the dinners and you clean the dishes.
I cry when I’m tired and you get cranky when you’re hungry.
We show up in every way we can each day. And when we mess up? We forgive. We forget. We move on.
But I didn’t always have this graceful or enlightened view of marriage.
In fact, it was only few years before I met you when I would say something over and over again that — to this day — is so embarrassing, it makes me sick to my stomach. It’s something that a little bit stings with shame.
“If my husband ever cheats on me, I would leave him. That’s unforgivable. I could never move past it or trust him again. If my husband is unfaithful, that equals divorce in my head.”
I would say this when people asked me how I felt about divorce. I would say it when people talked about how their boyfriends or girlfriends cheated on them. I would say it when we watched movies that showed the cords of marriage unraveling; the foundation of commitment dissolving.
I couldn’t wrap my head around what it would be like to face that kind of betrayal. I could not even begin to fathom facing that sort of heartache and anger and rug-ripping-out-from-underneath-me… and then extending forgiveness.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when this changed. It was only a couple of years ago when I realized this:
I will be unfaithful in my marriage. And so will my husband.
It’s something we just won’t be able to avoid.
I may never sleep with another man and you may never have an inapropriate relationship with another woman, but we will both be unfaithful.
Because in 108 days, we will both make a promise we cannot keep.
Somewhere in those vows we’ll exchange in front of all our friends and family; somewhere after the, “I, Diana Palka, take you, Tyler Carter,” and somewhere before the, “You may now kiss your bride,” we will promise to foreake all others for the rest of our lives. Somewhere in those vows we will promise a lifetime of loving the other better and deeper and more intimately than we’ve ever have or ever will love another person. By exchanging these words, we will be making a covenant promise to choose the other and only the other — over and over and over again — till death do us part.
And, Tyler? I hate that it’s true, in fact, it breaks my sloppy heart — but I know there will be days when I break that vow to you.
I’ve never been married before, you know this. I’ve never said, “I do” or been kissed as a bride or received four toasters on one day. I have no experience as a wife and I can only make this sort of guess based off what I know about the self-centeredness that lurks just beneath my smile as I say, “Sure, babe. You can have the last bite of Talenti.” But I’m willing to bet that I break that whole “forsaking all others” vow pretty quickly.
I’m willing to bet that quickly after we unpack our bags from our honeymoon and our sunkissed skin fades back to a normal shade, there will come a day when I don’t forsake all others — and on that day, the “other” I choose instead of you, will be me.
Because lumped in that bucket of all the people we are forsaking, is ourselves. In just 108 days, I will vow to forever forsake myself for the sake of you. And In just 108 days, you will make the same promise to me.
Now I’ve said this once or twice or a million times before, but I have a selfish heart. My nasty and ugly inclination toward self is something I have to fight each day. Even on my best days; even when I am the most faithful wife or the most cheerful friend — I am still unfaithful. It’s truly only by the grace of Jesus that I’m ever able to love you well…
But a wise woman once told me that a good marriage is made up of two people who are really, really good at forgiving.
We will have these moments of unfaithfulness. We will each walk through the tangible disappointment of realizing the other is just as flawed and jacked up as our selves. We will wake up some days and want nothing to do with serving and care only about how we can be served. And in our vow-breaking– whether colossal and earth shattering or miniscule in consequence — I pray for a grace that comes from so much more than our frail human strength. In the moments when I’m so selfish that I eat dinner before you get home or on the days where your sin is all I seem to see, I pray that the Lord would gently and tenderly remind us of the way He love us.
I pray that when we get caught up in the other’s wandering, we are reminded of a God who never leaves our side.
I pray that when we question our ability to extend enough grace to cover the other’s mistakes, we draw nearer to a Savior who already covered us and promises to walk with us to the end of the age. I pray that when keeping the covenant of marriage becomes the most tiring and frustrating and draining adventure we’ve ever embarked on, we rely on the true Covenant Keeper.
Because we will break those vows, Tyler. We will break them in ways we cannot even imagnie we will. And when we do, I pray we forgive quickly as God forgives us. Time after time, I pray we begin each day with the new mercies He wraps up for us and a renewed commitment to honor the other with unending faithfulness. Day after day, for the rest of our seconds on this side of eternity.
In just 108 days, our forever will start. In just 108 days, we be joined to each other in a way we’ve never been joined before. And while I know we’ll be imperfect in all the ways we love each other, I know that we are led by a perfect God who fiercely loves us more than we could ever imagine.
108 days, Tyler.
I cannot wait to be your bride.
All my love, prayers and continual attempts at faithfulness,