I imagine most of us would agree the word “vow” is one serious word. Even the dictionary agrees with the seriousness when we read a vow is defined as a “solemn promise.” I wonder how much thought the average person puts into the words they will be speaking on their wedding day.
We know the vows will include “for better or for worse.” We also know about the “in sickness and in health” thing. But do we know the magnitude of the promise we are making, for we will be vowing to love one person for the rest of our lives.
No one has to explain the “for better” part, we get that. But “for worse,” do we ask if there is anything we need to know here? Is there anything hidden in plain sight? We are expected to love them in the worst of times? Who knows what worse is until you experience worse?
If you were asked to give a “for better or worse” example – would it be as simple as dirty clothes can be found in the clothes hamper, or dirty clothes can be found on the bedroom floor. In this scenario, “better” is clothes in the hamper. ‘Worse’ are clothes on the bedroom floor.
Should the minister make mention of future unhappiness? Should he make us repeat the words, “There is no one else I would rather be unhappy with?”
Should we say, “I know you are going to get on my nerves, but there is no one else I would rather have on my nerves than you?”
Shouldn’t someone have told the groom that the woman he is marrying is going to drive him nuts at times? He is going to be worn out. There is heartache and frustration ahead. Who knew? No one. No one knows until they experience it themselves.
No one knew the first meal to be tossed would be a batch of tuna and noodles that called for mayonnaise in the recipe. She didn’t know. She was just following a recipe. She may have suspected mayonnaise in tuna and noodles might not work out, but she put it in there anyways. It was just a few dollars’ worth of ingredients that were thrown away. No big deal.
“Better” is finding a man and woman standing together at the sink, working to put the kitchen back together after a meal. Worse is the woman standing by herself while the man is in front of the television.
Back in the day when I worked as a home health nurse, I made a visit to an Amish home and was gifted a few special moments in my own life as I was able to see the simplicity of their lives. I watched two little girls standing on their chairs at the kitchen sink, dish towel in hand as they dried the dishes.
I do not need to tell you what they looked like – you already know they were adorable. Of course their hair was soft and shiny and their skin plump and tan. I remember their beautiful eyes and even their eye lashes. They were watching me as I worked in their home, and I am sure they wondered why my hair was not up in a bun. And where was my royal blue and black dress?
The home was of the simplest décor, for there was no décor. No collections and nothing to dust. The moments I spent with this family were once in a life-time moments – something I will remember and treasure forever.
Perhaps the marriage proposal should be two-part, and the proposal should go something like, “Will you marry me – for I would like to be the one who creates the better moments in your life. I would like to solemnly vow to keep the worse moments to a minimum.”
And when two young people start out on the marriage venture with the goal of building a peaceful home, and perhaps raising a family, they will find out the peace that is available to them when scripture is read and the gospel is lived out.
The husband will know he is the strong one; he has the strength to hold the heavy casserole dish above the waste basket while the tuna and noodles are scraped into the trash.
The two will come to know they are living out their solemn promise, as they put thought and intention into finding ways to turn the worst of times into the best of times.
No one really likes tuna and noodles anyway.