A couple in our church hosted an anniversary party at their home last month. Everybody brought food and drink to celebrate relationships and give couples a chance to renew their vows if they wished.
It’s a tricky thing.
These kinds of gatherings can leave single and divorced people with mixed feelings. How do you balance both? I had to try to find a way because I was giving the reflection about love.
Eventually it occurred to me: Love is never limited to a couple. It never grows in a vacuum. It involves all of the people in our lives who love us and help us grow. Love is always a group project.
And so we went with it.
We talked about the little, everyday moments that build upon each other and form our relationships. If you’re a couple, you certainly know those moments. You’ve had so many of them.
For instance, the first time you met. Did you look at the other person and think, “Hmm, who is this person?” Or did you barely notice them?
Do you remember your first date? Were you nervous? Was it wonderful? A disaster? A little of both?
How about the first time that you held hands, how they just felt like they were a perfect fit.
The first time you stayed up deep into the night talking without realizing it was so late. You just had so much to say to each other.
How about the first time you snuggled in each other’s arms and thought: There’s no place I’d rather be than right here, right now, with this person.
Or the first time you thought: This person is really remarkable. And more than a little weird, too.
The first time you had an argument over something ridiculously silly and it went on for, oh, two days because neither one of you wanted to lose the silly argument.
Do you remember the first time you thought that this relationship isn’t going to work out because you are so different in some ways. And then the first time you realized that this relationship is actually the answer to so many prayers.
How about the first time that you realized that you wanted this person to be a part of your life going forward, and that feeling scared you because you’d never felt that way before.
What about the first time you said: I do.
I’m not taking about the wedding I-dos. I’m talking about the daily I-dos, the ones you’ve been saying to each other right from the start:
You seem like an interesting person. Do you want to get some coffee sometime? I do.
That coffee thing went well. Do you think you’d like to go on an actual date? I do.
Do you want to see that new movie that just came out? I do. (Even though I hate those kinds of movies.)
I’ve had a horrible day. Do you think you could make some time for me tonight? Of course I do.
I’ve had a wonderful day. Do you want to celebrate with me? Absolutely, I do.
Do you realize that when I’m with you, I like the person that I am? That you bring out the best in me? Yeah, I do. And you do the same for me.
Do you realize that annoying little habit of yours really drives me up the wall? Yes, I do. But do you also realize that I’m working hard to try to do it less?
Do you know that I love you? I do. And I love you back.
Do you want to keep doing this remarkable thing we have together for as long as we can? I do.
And then come the vows, which get renewed every day in many ways. You say “I do” to cherishing this person. You appreciate the joy and laughter they bring into your day, as well as the challenges and struggles. You try to love each other as deeply as you can, in as many ways as you can, for as long as you can. You look forward to the many “firsts” yet to come. And you are thankful that so many people want to be part of that adventure with you, every step of the way.
And those many other people in your life say “I do” to you, too. It’s a group project.
After we did the the I dos at the party, we thanked the Creator of life and love for the many people who help us become better lovers – lovers of each other and lovers of life. We asked for the grace and the courage to continue saying “I do” to each other.
And then we went outside and released 36 helium-filled balloons into the gray sky, adding a little color and love to the world. We did it all together.