Twenty-five years ago last Monday, I knelt across an altar and made a commitment to someone for all the years I would walk this earth, and all the eternities I would exist. That same day I made separate commitments to God, to give all my years on this earth and all my eternities to be his disciple. Milestone year markers are opportunities to reflect.
I could say a lot of things about marriage, but I’m not going to. That marriage lasted two weeks short of two years, and I just don’t have a lot of experience with that kind of two-way commitment working well. I know the textbook answers, and I know what I’ve experienced as I’ve watched others muddle through their companionships, and I’ve even added another ten-year experiment of my own. That yielded more wisdom about what doesn’t work than what does, however. I would say that I know a great deal about failure, though I’m not particularly worried about that reflecting badly on me. I rather feel like the childless woman at the baby shower sometimes, and I’m largely okay with that.
But discipleship, that I’ve had the privilege of working on. God didn’t walk away from His side, and it’s been a 25-year journey with a really great companion. I’m fascinated that scripture talks about Christ’s marriage to the church metaphorically to help us understand the ups and downs and good days and bad of living with a commitment to God.
This, I can truly say, has been the steadying thing in my life. Many people speak at their silver anniversary about the devotion they have for one another, the things they’ve been through together, the depth of affection they have for their true love, and how they can’t imagine life without each other. I feel that same way, about God.
Perhaps in the absence of someone present to share all that meet companions share, I had the privilege of having God stand in, or perhaps I was just keenly aware because there wasn’t anyone else to focus on. This I know: making commitments makes us better.
Vows steady us, like stakes supporting the straight growth of a young tree, and protecting that tree from the ravages of the wind. Tied trees grow straighter, and good people bound together by their vows to one another grow straighter, protected from a myriad of destructive forces. It isn’t lost on me what protection and support I lost in one set of vows broken, but I do know what I gained from the other kept.
Yesterday’s thoughts were about how God makes up the difference, and I believe in that. I’m so glad it meant something to me to keep my vows to Him. I can’t imagine life without Him.