I was recently at a bridal shower, and the bride-to-be was counting down to her wedding. The day was fast approaching—just 20 days left. After asking all the requisite questions about the wedding, I said, “How are you feeling about the being married part?”
“A little nervous,” she admitted. “I just want to do it perfectly from the very beginning!”
I understood what she meant. In fact, a younger version of me might have uttered those very words.
In the moment, I didn’t say anything. But I’ve been thinking about her statement ever since, and this is what I wish I’d said.
Dear sweet bride-to-be,
The best moments of marriage aren’t the times you do it perfectly. The best moments are the times when you make a crack wide enough for grace to slip in. Or at least that’s how it’s been for me.
Like the time I left the bag of chicken in the trunk of the car. For three days.
Or the time I made a financial mistake that set us back $5,000.
Or the time I made a crockpot dinner . . . and forgot to turn it on.
Or the time we’d been gone all day and had a cranky toddler on our hands and it was dinnertime, and we arrived home only to realize I’d locked us out of the house.
Or the time our son’s hand got burned on my watch.
Or the time we got the news that we’d lost our unborn baby and I cried and cried until it looked like I’d been in a boxing match.
The times you do it perfectly aren’t the times that bind you together. If I’d done it perfectly from the very beginning, we would have missed so much.
We would have missed driving home from the car wash with the car mat on top of the roof, our arms burning with the effort and our sides splitting with laughter.
I would have missed getting a hug when I felt like I deserved a financial lecture. And we would have missed seeing the ways God would provide.
We would have missed conspiring about creative ways to dispose of two gallons of pot roast.
We would have missed the chance to pray together in the ER and learn how to wrap six feet of bandages on a tiny, squirming person.
We would have missed the sacred gift of shared pain, of loving a child who made it to heaven before we did.
Sweet bride, there is something better than perfection. It’s called grace.
The very nature of marriage means saying yes before you know what it will cost. Though you may say the “I do” of the wedding ritual in all sincerity, it is the testing of that vow over time that makes you married.Kathleen Norris