I have seen ten photographs from our wedding day, but I know this one will be one of my favorites. This picture surely shows the magic of a Christmastime wedding. We are dressed in the most carefully picked outfits of our lives. But for me it is far more than a beautiful picture.
They say a photograph is worth a thousand words…and for me, this photograph is worth both a thousand words and a thousand choices.
Authentic love requires great sacrifice. Authentic love requires incredible commitment. And love that lasts a lifetime requires that you choose the other over and over again…and that you choose God together over and over and over again.
And as we knelt here in this moment we brought all these times of choosing to the altar where Christ chose us...for Himself and for one another.
When I met Daniël in the beginning of 2013, dating someone who lived 6,000 miles away seemed like an impossibility. But after we first met, we each went home with this stirring on our hearts - this shifting of the plates in our souls that indicated God was up to something bigger than we could understand.
This photo represents our choice to listen to God’s prompting for me to return to Europe a few months after Daniël and I had met. It represents Daniël’s choice to pursue my heart. And it paints the picture of the years of choosing one another we had to do after that to arrive at those kneelers on the thirtieth of December.
When you are dating someone from across the other side of a planet, there are very, very hard days...seemingly impossible days when you must decide together…
Either we will continue to choose one another or we will choose to walk away.
This is the choosing which love requires. There were numerous times in our frail humanity that walking away would have been the easier choice. We were getting to know one another with a 9-hour time difference, we could not do anything fun together like go to the movies - all we had was talking. All we had was praying. All we had was choosing. And it was a very challenging road. There were some painful, hard, heart-wrenching days. We had to intentionally keep calling, to keep writing, to keep trying to make the other feel loved, to keep buying expensive plane tickets. When you spend two and a half months apart from the one you love - when you can’t spend time in person together week after week - you must choose to keep going until that next time you get to stand in the arrivals terminal and wait with an aching heart as you watch each set of feet come down the escalator, hoping to catch that first glimpse of the olive green Vans you know he travels in. You must choose to keep holding on to what Christ has called you to.
Because the thing is...love and marriage are not a fairy tale. Our culture sells us the cheap idea that love is all about how you feel about another person...when love, real love, in reality, is about a choice to love another person in good times and in bad times. You do not often choose because you feel like it - you choose because you are called...because the Lord of all says, “This is the one I created for you to keep choosing.”
This photograph represents our choosing of one another - and more importantly it captures our choosing of God together.
The only thing that made this moment possible was a central focus on our Creator, who created us for one another and created us to live to praise Him. Since the day we met, Daniël and I prayed together every single day. There was a great knowing in both of us from day one that if our love would ever endure, it would not be by either of our hands or efforts. We would never make it to a wedding day on our own. This would only work if the center of our love together was Christ - if we prayed for God’s will to be done daily - if we put our love of Jesus before our love of the other. Keeping our eyes fixed on God was the rock that sustained our love. We chose the Gospel about the man who built his house on rock to be proclaimed at our wedding for this very reason.
Our relationship, our marriage, will always be about humbly bringing glory to the God who brought us together. This love is all about the King. Our love is all about the Eucharist that kept us connected to one another in two separate worlds day after day, week after week. Authentic love is derived from the creator of such love.
It is a pretty photo, indeed, but this photo is about more than pretty... it is all about the gritty choosing love demands. It is all about the fierce commitment true love requires of us - the commitment to one another, and to a life in God’s great hands. And as we knelt here after we stated our vows...moments after we promised to never, ever give up on one another...we sang to the God we promised to keep carrying one another toward. From that day, onward, forever.