Last night I attended a Valentines dinner that my pretend parents- aka my best friend Sarah’s mom and dad were hosting for their home group.
The night was exquisite from beginning to end. All the tables were pushed into a giant circle in the living room, creating the perfect family style arrangement. Every plastic table was beautifully transformed into elegance with the simple addition of pure white tablecloths, woven placemats, and tiny confetti hearts sprinkled around each place. Tall, red candles lit just before dinner brought everything together perfectly, setting the cozy mood for the rest of the evening.
I left the house to go babysit next door for a few hours and when I returned dinner was already in full swing! Every empty chair was now filled and plates were quickly starting to pile up with food. The room looked even more beautiful now than I had imagined!
About half an hour had gone by and the consumption of food was starting to slow down when I heard the announcement-
“In light of Valentines Day this week we thought it would be neat to go around the table and have everyone share the story of how you met your spouse…”
This should be good, I instantly thought to myself. Aside from Sarah, I was the only single person sitting at the table and every couple there had been married for much longer than I’ve even been alive!
As husbands and wives began whispering among themselves, checking facts and making sure they get their stories straight, I was replaying Pride and Prejudice in my head. Could I really be sitting across the table from another Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy?
From the minute the first couple began to share, I sat on the edge of my chair, my eyes hard at work holding back tears, completely captivated by every word of the stories unfolding before me…
They weren’t exactly the romantic classics I was expecting, but they were beautiful stories to me. While I expected stories more like the ones I’ve read in novels or seen in movies, what I got was even better-
I got stories of everything from miniskirts and stolen boyfriends to ugly divorces that led to saving remarriages. They used foreign words like courting and they didn’t have cell phones or Facebook to communicate…crazy. Some couples were childhood friends and others didn’t meet until their 40‘s. Some people fell in love over onion rings…for others it was a dozen roses. There were stories of packed bags and angry fights followed by stories of love that never quit loving and grace upon grace upon grace.
They finished each others sentences and reminded their spouse of any details they were forgetting. They held hands and shared the same used tissue to wipe their nose. They looked into each other’s eyes with the deepest sense of love and understanding.
It seemed to me that as they reminisced on where they’d been, they started to remember how far they’ve come.
And little did they know that a girl like me really needs to hear stories like theirs…
I needed to hear the wife share with tears in her eyes how much of a mess she was, running the opposite direction from God and how her husband just loved her and never gave up on her…not once. I need to hear about that kind of grace because I know I will be one of those who needs it.
I needed to hear men talk about pursuing their wives, almost to a fault, because I still believe that’s how it should be. If I get married one day I want it to be because the man pursued me and not because I put myself out there.
I needed to hear their stories of marriages fought for faithfully, even through the hardest of years. I needed to know that can happen.
What I really needed were some examples- because that’s always my biggest hold up on this whole love thing…
I wanted to know that marriage is worth giving up my independence and sharing the rest of my life with another person. I’ve always said that if I ever find a couple who is still madly in love with each other after 30 years, still enjoys each others company instead of sitting in silence at the dinner table every night, still laughs and goes on dates and looks for ways to love the other one better, then I would maybe have more of a desire to get married.
But that’s just not what I see most of the time..
I have long been on the lookout for couples who are better together and more effective in the kingdom of God together than they are apart.
..and last night I found seven of them. Seven beautiful examples of love fought for and covered in the grace of God. Seven couples who know each other intimately and still love each other deeply…even after all these years.
I’m not running down the altar tomorrow or anything.
BUT thanks to the wisdom and testimony of fourteen strangers,
I believe more than I did before in the goodness and the value of marriage.
And maybe just maybe it could be worth it one day…
(note: all pictures taken from infamous”love” boards on pinterest…they dont belong to me!)