Sunday, August 27, 2017

I Always Believed in Love

Midday Sunday, I officiated Kate and Jim’s wedding ceremony at their home, in Frisco, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

The story of how Kate and Jim became a couple, once they met, is like out of a romance novel. (Ladies, you can explain to your guy friends what those are later.) It truly was one of those stories of love at first sight, or more accurately, first interaction. Their initial date, per the laws of online dating, was only supposed to be a brief "meet and greet". The chemistry was so incredible, though, that it turned into dinner and a long deep discussion into the night.

Don't take my word for it. Listen to Jim: "Our first date was magical and as close to love at first sight as it can get." Kate is - I'm sure this will shock you - more verbose: "I felt a surge and connection immediately upon looking into Jim’s eyes! Our first plan was to just have a drink, but we both agreed that we had a very special chemistry and decided to spend the whole evening together. We shared our life stories, and found ourselves immediately moving closer physically and emotionally that evening. It was a freezing cold evening, but my heart was glowing warmth. When Jim walked me to my car that night, and we kissed goodbye, I knew I was falling fast!" Is that beautiful or what?
There is great beauty in the story of two lovers, say in their mid-twenties, who come together in the bond of marriage, and so what I will say next should not be misconstrued as diminishing that at all. However, there is a unique and unmatched beauty in the love story of two seasoned (don't call us old; we are not) individuals like Kate and Jim, who have found such hope and loving friendship together.

Love stories like Kate and Jim's inspire me. Why? Because it is so very human. The fate of humanity, is to experience loss. That is the nature of our species, and every other species. However, what sets us humans apart is that we need not surrender to fate.

We have a choice. Regardless of what the universe throws at us, we still can choose how to react to that situation. It's not easy, but we can choose what to do next. Kate and Jim each made a choice. Kate, again, shockingly, is more descriptive. (I'm really happy she is coming out of her shell!) "I always believed in love and became hopeful that I could love and trust again. I started dating..."

That choice to look fate in the eye, and choose your destiny, is what brings us here today. As Jim says, "I want to marry Kate now because I love her, and we both want to take our relationship to the next stage... to bind and bond our relationship to each other." And as Kate says, "Once we fell in love, we both felt that life is too short and unpredictable to wait to take our love to the next level."

Forever Love

Saturday evening, Rev. Tom Robbins and I co-officiated Danielle and Chris’s wedding ceremony at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas, in Irving, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Imagine, you handed in a screenplay for a rom-com. (Guys, those are those movies you only see a quarter of, because you're fast asleep twenty minutes in.) The story is about an Oklahoma gal and a Texas guy, who fall in love. You set the scene for their first interaction on a ranch in Texas. And, it's Texas Independence Day. And, he's wearing cowboy boots. And, he's teaching her how to shoot. Oh, and the scene ends a month in, and they each both know that this is it, this is their soulmate! Likely, you'd get a note back, telling you to rewrite, because that scene was just too "on the nose". Well, folks, truth IS stranger than fiction, because that scene brought us here today. This is for REAL! Sometimes (guys, this is at the end of the rom-com, when your girl is shaking you to wake up), fairy tales do come true.
Now, I always ask couples why they want to get married and why now. Chris's answer for the why now question (I am not making this up) had something partially to do with football schedules. For the why question, which he was ready to answer a month in, here is part of his answer: "She was the most beautiful girl I’d ever spoken with, she was so easy to talk to that I was spilling my guts constantly left and right, and she was very witty. I hadn’t ever found a girl with that combination, so I knew she was the one."

Now, the one downside of rom-coms and fairy tales is the assumption of "happily ever after." What do I mean? Well, life isn't happier ever after. Life has challenges. Marriage has challenges. And you need to be there for each other, through those challenges. Rachel Platten puts it so well in a recent song:

"Hands, put your empty hands in mine...
If your wings are broken
Please take mine so yours can open too
'Cause I'm gonna stand by you...
I'll be your eyes when yours can't shine...
And when you can't rise, well, I'll cry with you on hands and knees...
Even if we're breaking down, we can find a way to break through. Even if we can't find heaven, I'll walk through hell with you..."

Well, not to keep in suspense, but Danielle and Chris totally get this! Listen to Danielle: "Being with Chris thus far has exceeded those expectations and really has shown me that he is my forever love. I love sharing my life with him and can’t wait to continue that (whether they are happy or sad moments) and experience life moving forward with him. I think that marriage is... one of the best support systems that life offers, and when going through a difficult time, just knowing that we have each other to share and ease our burdens is something I’ve always desired. I love that marriage means you... love your spouse selflessly and unselfishly, and I have no doubt that Chris is able to fulfill that... Hell, he already does!"

Sunday, August 20, 2017

My Person

Saturday afternoon, Rev. Jay Hutchinson and I co-officiated Michelle and Max’s wedding ceremony at the St. Andrew's School in Middletown, Delaware. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Michelle and Max introduced me to a new and fascinating term that relates to love and friendship. Listen to how they describe their relationship, and how their love brought them here today:

Michelle says, "I want to marry Max because I know he is my person. He understands me, I understand him and it just works. It isn’t always easy – but I know we can get through the hard times together because we have already been tested and our relationship only gets stronger from it. He has... a big heart and makes me laugh all the time. I feel safe, loved and understood."

My person was a new concept to me. I thought perhaps it was just a term Michelle used. Then I read Max's words: "Michelle, in addition to being undeniably quirky, is one of the most caring people I’ve ever met. She also doesn’t judge me or anybody else, and accepts people’s flaws with grace and compassion. I don’t know when I realized that she was my person, but I realized early on that this one was different. We complement each other so well, which I think is somewhat rare in relationships. We are very different from each other, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s why it works... We strengthen and support each other, and work as a team better than any couple I know."

There it was again, that term, my person. Now, this couple is probably one of the smartest and most creative I have worked with, so I was not surprised they would introduce me to a new term. I felt like I needed to understand exactly what they meant. So, I went to that fount of all wisdom; no, not the Bible, the Internet. 

Here is one of the best explanations I found, written by Faith Fishkin: "The term my person originated from the show 'Grey's Anatomy.' My own personal definition is the person you go to for everything, the person you can't live without, the person you can't stay mad at, and the person that supports you in everything that you do."

I love that. When two people decide to marry, you know they are in love with each other. That almost goes without saying. However, you also hope they are friends. In fact, if you sense that they are just lovers, but not friends, that may not bode well for their marriage. Friendship in this case is like the foundation of a house. You have to have a foundation to build your love on. 

At least, that is how I would have put it until now. Really, though, I realize that is just not nearly enough. You need a foundation stronger than that. You need the mutual understanding that Michelle and Max bring to their relationship. You need to be each other's person

In fact, though Fishkin points out that your person can be entirely separate and apart from your romantic relationship, the rest of what she says sounds like the ideal marriage. "Being someone's person is a commitment," Fishkin says, "...Being called someone's person is an absolute honor. It means you are the person's 'go-to'. Your friendship has no limits, you will be best friends and each other's person until the day you die, and even then, the friendship is too strong to end…"

That, my friends, is what Michelle and Max share. We should all be so lucky.