Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

What Matters Most

It had been planned for almost a year. I think we sent "save the date" cards out in January. Shopping for the right hotel. Picking the invitations. Selecting the menu. Interviewing DJ's. Checking out photographers. Deciding the drink assortment. What should we wear? What's the dress? Do we need a guest book?

Of course, after it had all been planned, we realized there were going to be out-of-towners here at least one extra night. So more planning. A pool party and BBQ. We had to eat at three different BBQ joints to decide who had the best meat and who had the best side dishes. Beer or wine? Iced tea and lemonade --- or sodas? What if it's too hot? What if it rains? (It did.)

Such was the planning for our 25th wedding anniversary. My wife and I had a simple wedding in Gaithersburg, Maryland - 25 years ago this week. It was a church wedding with a real minister. The state required two witnesses. My wife's mother flew in from Florida. No one else came because we'd just moved to Maryland and didn't know anyone. We had no out-of-towners who would come at that time. (The organist in the church served as the second witness.)

We had no wedding reception. We had no presents to speak of. (I think one of my aunts gave us a blanket though.) So as far as weddings go, it was pretty unmemorable. We were married. It was legal. And we set off ... two clueless morons with no idea of what marriage is or what is necessary to make it work. We had no role models (that we knew of) and no idea what kind of a ride we were in for. More than once, we hit some pretty major bumps in the road. But we got through them. We eventually learned how to do this dance called marriage.

As we looked at our silver anniversary, we decided a party was in order. We'd never really celebrated our marriage. We'd spent many married years not celebrating --- but slugging our way through it. The time seemed right to celebrate. Twenty-five years was a milestone that seemed rather significant to both of us. It meant an accomplishment; the completion of one of the most difficult challenges either of us has ever faced. It's a good marriage. We're best friends. But it's taken a lot of hard work to get us here.

When the guests started arriving at the hotel ballroom, things turned a bit surreal. Some were early. (We weren't ready.) Some were late. (We'd worried they weren't coming.) Probably no more than a third of the guests had arrived when we both realized we were getting a little choked up. Old friends were suddenly with us. Dear friends from our recent past. Dear friends from years past. There were people we hadn't seen in years. (Fortunately, we recognized most of them.)

What we both began to realize was that, in addition to learning to cherish each other, our journey had included so many people with whom we'd made heart connections along the way. Each is precious to us. (We didn't invite anyone who isn't.) It was my turn to welcome the guests before we prayed before dinner. No eloquent speech from this guy. I don't even know what I said. But what I was feeling was an overwhelming sense of honor. We were so humbled that so many people would love us so much to set aside a night like this to celebrate with us. I got choked up just trying to greet everyone.

For sure, the room full of people didn't represent all of the people that we know and love. There were many more. The guest list had been put together about a year in advance. If we were doing it today it would be even longer. One of my friends was giving a toast and he surmised that perhaps our circle of friends and loved ones was even bigger than this room full of people, but that "these were all the friends they could afford to feed." Little did he know how close to the truth he'd gotten!

The thing is, as we celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this week, we realize that our marriage is a precious gift from God. We've made it. What an excellent adventure it has been! We can't wait to see what the next 25 years will hold in store for us. But the one single thing we are both focused on is the number of absolutely wonderful people that God has put in our lives. We are so blessed with deep, intimate friendships. And this is what we value most in life. It is what matters most. And it is wealth that we both are very intent on continuing to build.

No comments:

Post a Comment