... every one of them has been me.
That's what Lewis B. Smedes wrote as an older man in 1983's "Controlling the Unpredictable-The Power of Promising" and it's a VITAL concept to remember when building a lasting, meaningful marriage. When Krissy and I heard this line recently, we sat out on the porch one night and began to identify how many people we've been together. We'll be celebrating our 13th Anniversary in August and I think we've each been about 3 distinct people since we met and fell in love in high school.
- Unsettled, rebellious loose-lipped, anti-establishment Dave
- Dogmatic 20's intense, frustrated at my own youth, stumbling fighting through figuring out what it means to live as a Christian, husband and father Dave
- Today Dave... who I likely won't fully be able to identify until Dave #4 comes along
Each of those Dave's have come with their own "Being-Dave" challenges and their own "Being in a relationship with Dave" challenges... but the call to covenant, commitment-based marriage remains. A while back, John Piper, Don Carson, Tim Keller sat down together and combined their 116 years of martial wisdom into this wonderful 5 minutes.
As Piper references, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote to a young married couple,
“It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”
Before we got married I gave my wife an engraved bracelet with the words, "I choose to love you" on it. At the time it even seemed to me to be less than romantic... but it did seem right. Through variables xyz, culture has attempted to dilute many of the DEEP DEEP truths that reside in marriage. The very truths that make marriage WORK. One of the largest post modern destructive concepts we've been conned into believing is that the feeling of romantic love is foundational. As Piper says in the video,
"Promise is the soil in which the flower grows"
Tim Keller references Stanley Hauerwas's (Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School) profound statement that compliments the idea that we're constantly changing :
"You always marry the wrong person"
In fact he calls it Hauerwas’s Law. In further writings he follows it with this further explanation:
It is as important to note, of course that the reverse of the law is also true: namely, that you also always marry the right person. The point of the law is to suggest the inadequacy of the current assumption that the success or failure of a marriage can be determined by marrying the “right person.” Even if you have married the “right person,” there is no guarantee that he or she will remain such, for people have a disturbing tendency to change.
This is why the promise MUST be the foundation. The term "Kindred Spirits" sometimes makes me gag a little as it's often used in a very Seinfeldian "Shmoopy" context. But Piper points out that "your spirits will go in and out of being kindred spirits" and it's kind of a relief to hear someone who's been through more "people" than me affirm the amount of change that DOES happen and the subsequent feelings that change as well.
The last thing that is SO important to understand is that "We're made by God for God. We're saying something about Christ and the church by the way we act". Hauerwas says:
The requirement of love in marriage is not correlative to the intrinsic nature of marriage but is based on the admonition for Christians to love one another. We do not love because we are married, but because we are Christian. We may, however, learn what such love is like within the context of marriage.
I want to have a legendary marriage. It's on my very short bucket list. I don't care about seeing Europe. The amount of money I acquire is of minimal value to me. But having a legendary marriage that people tells stories about is of the UTMOST importance to me. And that requires analytical/philosophical thinking combined with acting on those principles. But it all starts with THE PROMISE of "Together Forever". It's not a fleeting concept. It's a choice.