Not long ago, Nathan asked me to take our marriage license into work and make a photocopy for an upcoming trip we were taking. I have to admit, up until that point I had never really read our marriage license. In fact, upon arriving back home after our honeymoon 2 years ago, we placed it in our fire safe where it has since sat. However, since it was in my possession this particular day and I was making a copy, I took a longer glance at it and found that me and my man agreed to “solemnize” our marriage commitment. Down below that, I read that my sweet dad also “solemnized” our marriage and dated it June 13, 2009.
I don’t know why it got me a little choked up this particular day, but something about seeing our two young, naïve names scribbled down along with my dad’s under the words “solemnize” had an impact on me.
Like the word nerd that I am, I quickly flipped through my thesaurus and looked up what the word “solemnize” is synonymous with – celebrate . . . keep . . . commemorate . . . observe . . .honor . . .make official . . .formalize . . .and last, but certainly not least . . .sanctify.
I realized as I read those words and looked at our binding marriage agreement that the day I married Nathan Atwood I was promising before God and everyone at our wedding that I was going to love that man to the death. I realized that my sweet dad, who was also our officiate, agreed that he was our witness and that he “made it official.” Don’t get me wrong – I realized those things on our wedding day too, to a very small degree, but I will admit that every time our pre-marriage counselors told us “marriage is hard” I kind of thought they were implying their marriage was, and ours wouldn’t be . . . after all, I married the man of my dreams who would never leave his socks in the floor, never burp at dinner, always sing my praises and agree with me on everything, right??? (grin)
I realized after a few months that they were right – marriage is hard. It does require the impossible, it does force you to mature, it does require work every. single. day. But if we keep at it, instead of giving up like so many people in our culture have, we’re keeping our word. We’re honoring those young, naïve signatures, we’re honoring my dad, we’re honoring all those in attendance that day, we’re honoring our future children and grandchildren, we’re honoring each other, and most importantly, we’re honoring God.
I don’t want you thinking that Nathan and I have had a slew of problems in our two years of marriage. That wouldn’t be true at all. But I also don’t want you thinking that we have this whole thing figured out and we’re never selfish, stubborn or sinful. That would be the biggest lie I’ve ever told!
Looking at our little ole’ marriage certificate that day put things in perspective for me though, and I realized that sanctification isn’t just a one-time thing. On that hot June day in Alabama, we signed and agreed to sanctify our marriage, but for the past two years we’ve had to sanctify it 100 times over – it’s a process of doing the right thing and making the right choices every single day. Will we say hurtful things to each other? Inevitably. Will we mess up? Every now and then. Will we at times want to give up? I’m sure of it. But sanctification comes when we’re reminded of our commitment and our love, and we press through the mess because it brings holiness and honor...and that my friends, is worth it.