Sunday, April 29, 2018

Nothing Can Stop You

Saturday afternoon, Father John Hiers and I co-officiated Whitney and Sam’s wedding ceremony at the Church of the Ascension, in Clearwater, Florida. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I love origin stories of any kind, but particularly of couples’ relationships. With more than 375 weddings in the last decade, I have heard quite a few. This one, though, is a doozy!

See if you can keep all the characters, twists and turns here straight. “I knew I liked her immediately...” writes Sam, “I was dead set on getting to know her. Whit, however, had other plans. Through a mix up of who’s who, Whit thought that I was my friend Adam, who liked one of her friends. With that in mind, Whit gave me the cold shoulder most of the night, which only made me want to talk to her more! When my friends left the bar and Whit’s friends moved on to another locale, I asked for her number in the hopes of tagging along. When Whit let me know where her friends had decided to relocate, I made my Uber drive turn around immediately and drop me off where she was. I was making progress. At the end of the night, after I had used my secret technique of wearing her down with questions until she could no longer ignore me, Whit and I grabbed a late night bite to eat. As luck would have it, Adam strolled by the restaurant as we were walking out. I promise it wasn’t planned. I exclaimed, “THAT’S Adam!” I’m still not sure if she believed me right away, but it was enough for her. And the rest is history.”

This origin story becomes even more significant, when you realize that a short time before that Whitney had written, not said, written, “I am done with dating.” And, Sam? Well, he had given up on the dating game too.

With that set up, it might surprise you, and I don’t say this often at weddings, I know this one is built to last. No doubt. How do I know? Just listen to how they speak about marriage, how they conceive of it, and what it means to them.

Whitney says, “I never wanted or expected the fairytale, I want a partnership. I feel so acutely aware of how difficult and simultaneously rewarding marriage can and will be and it has never discouraged me from making it happen with Sam. I love him for who he is and who he isn’t. I love how he pushes me to be better, while always allowing me to be myself. I love our ability to have fun and communicate about the really difficult things in life... I am eager to build a life that means something with someone who will push me everyday to do so. I can honestly say if I had to do life without a romantic partner, I could do it. The thing that makes me most confident about this decision right now is I do not want to do this without him. I know our marriage will not be perfect and I know life will challenge us, but I really feel like I am at a point in my life where I am ready to share everything with someone and I am so happy that person is Sam.”

And, Sam says, “I desire to marry because our relationship brings a wholeness to my life that I couldn’t experience alone. I am the best version of myself with Whit. I also desire to marry because I understand the challenges that accompany life as an adult and I believe that the right partner can help weather life’s storms. Similarly, marriage makes the best experiences in life all the better because you experience them with someone else that you care deeply for. Marriage provides an unparalleled opportunity to tether your existence to that of another, and with the right partner, your relationship is greater than the sum of its parts. So is the mark that you leave on the world... I am aware of the risks and challenges of marriage, yet I am committed to pursuing the rest of my life putting “we” before “me”, compromising for the benefit of our relationship and our family and taking on life as a unit.”

This is why I believe that what Whitney and Sam have is built to last. They understand what takes many couples years to understand. It’s not about you, it’s not about you, either. It’s about recognizing that in marriage there is a third entity that needs to be cared for just as much, the marriage, the we. And, if you put that first, like Whitney and Sam do, nothing can stop you.

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