Sunday, February 26, 2017

Man Plans and God Laughs

Saturday evening, Deacon Keith Boswell and I co-officiated Jordana and Eric's wedding ceremony at Villa Siena in Gilbert, Arizona. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

One approach to interfaith relations, between spouses, between friends, even between communities, is to gloss over differences. There are even couples that choose to strip their wedding ceremony of any religious traditions, and have an officiant who is not identified with any religious tradition. Now, if you know anything about Jordana and Eric, you know that is not them.

One fascinating but easy to overlook difference between them is how they each speak of their coming together in relation to any preconceived planning they had in finding a soulmate. Eric, as a staid Midwestern Catholic, simply says that falling in love with Jordana was God's plan for him. The red headed New York Jew standing here beside him, with a twinkle in her eye, does not necessarily dispute this. She does, however, invoke an old Yiddish aphorism, der mentsh trakht un got lakhtדער מענטש טראַכט און גאָט לאַכט, man plans and God laughs.
Seriously, though, recognizing that planning for your relationship is necessary is one of the best lessons that Jordana and Eric teach us. As Eric says, "We needed some extra time due to our different religious backgrounds to make sure we could have a happy and fulfilled life together." Now, once you don't gloss over your religious differences, and instead acknowledge them, that has the potential of helping you plan for and deal with the host of other differences EVERY couple will (not may, WILL) have. As Jordana say, "I think our pre-marriage differences have helped prepare us for all the unpredictabilities before us in marriage."

Now even if you don't gloss over your differences, religious or otherwise, you can still think of differences as obstacles to overcome. Some view differences in many types of relationships, personal and professional, in just that way. Not Jordana and Eric, though. They see their differences as tools they can use for growth, as individuals and as a couple. As Jordana says, "We have grown to have a deeper appreciation of our differences, and instead of letting those differences divide us, they have only enriched (us)..."

And a funny thing happens when you follow this approach. The very recognition and embracing of our differences often shows us that in their essence, the cores of our ideas are actually closer than we thought. As Eric says, "We came to realize there are many similarities in the foundations of the two religions in regards to how they teach you to lead your life and... treat others." 
This allows us to form bonds much closer than we could ever have, as Jordana says, "My relationship with Eric has grown to be quite different from (the) early days. Today, I feel that I have a lifelong partner, a friend, a silly fool who can always make me laugh, right by my side." And it allows us to recognize the very core of those we love. As Eric says, "Jordana has such a big heart and has so much love to give... She’s... thoughtful and compassionate… She’s beautiful inside and out. I know she will make a great wife and a great mother... This is exactly the kind of person I want to be with for the rest of my life and I feel blessed to have found her!"

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