A butterfly lands on the screen of my kitchen window: a sill, a granite countertop in white more beautiful and sturdy than anything I could build for myself. All of it, a gift in more ways than one. We live in a house made possible by our family. We live in a house filled with the promises of God. A beautiful space to hold the sacred stumbles and sweet discoveries of new marriage. It’s not for forever, but this space is our home.
The butterfly flutters her wings and I am reminded of gentle providence — I’m reminded of his promises, of transformation unseen, and the knowledge that he only starts what will be finished. Like with houses being built, like with me: demolished and rebuilt from scratch, mercifully renovated and resurrected with grace.
I take my coffee to the table and sit, watching this still, quiet scene around me with wonder. I am alone, working from home. We said goodbye this morning, my best friend who stood at that counter to measure and brew coffee with the same attention and thoughtfulness by which he does all things.
Marriage is a funny promise — and a holy one, too. Funny, because even when guided by the Spirit that knows all, we know so little and can only see so much. Funny that we could stand and vow to love one another forever, as we are — knowing that who we are will change, and must. That we desire that, even: to continually change and somehow by grace be better than we were yesterday, somehow more patient, more merciful, more radiant, more kind. We are pursuers of dreams: we must grow to match the magnitude of our beckoning destines. We want it, hunger for it, knew this much before we said “I do.” We will become as big as God made us to be, as powerful, as wise.
In marriage, we don’t vow to love “only if.” Not “only if” you stay like this, not “only if” you love me just like I want you to love me, not “only if” it feels as beautiful and holy as this all of the time. We vow to love one another forever, “especially if.” As in, “especially if” it does not feel holy; especially if you change or I change and there’s growing pains in that; “especially if” it looks nothing like we thought it might when we sat down the morning of our wedding to scrawl with 28 year old hands promises our 29, 35, 42, 68 year old hands would have to carry out.
We only knew so much then. We only know so much now. But when you know the One that holds it all together, “only so much” is more than enough. “Only so much” is a gift, the promise that keeps us — we see in part, but he sees in whole. We don’t have to get it all figured out just yet.
We rest in the quiet stillness of providence, the steady structure of faithfulness built by divine hands that do not fail. We can experience the death of self and resurrection; the many iterations of ourselves that change, must change to coincide with each new season ordained for us to thrive.
We don’t endure, we practice expanding our capacity to love each other as wildly as God does us. We willingly die to each other, taking the example of God’s covenant with us to fuel ours with each other. I did not know the depth of what I said on my wedding day, but Father God: he did.