I officiated at a wedding last weekend. It was nice – held outside, right by Henry’s Ark in Prospect. Just over the fence to my right were two bison. Pretty sure I’ve never had buffalo listen to me speak; not once did they speak up to disagree.
During the wedding, as I spoke, I pointed out that nobody lives life knowing exactly how it will turn out. If that is true of life, why would we expect a marriage to be any different? For what is marriage but the joining of two people on a common journey into an uncertain future?
In other words, at some point after saying “I do,” the honeymoon ends – and I’m not talking about the wedding cruise or the time spent at the bridal chalet in Gatlinburg.
I’m talking about the honeymoon that is the the phase of life where everything is wonderful. He loves her, and so he hardly notices that she leaves the empty roll on the toilet paper holder. She loves him, and so she hardly notices that he leaves the toilet seat up.
But eventually, she has had enough, and she says: Would it kill you to put the seat down? To which he replies: Would it be so hard for you just once to get out a new roll of TP? It may take months or years; or it may take weeks or even days. But what was once no big deal is now her biggest annoyance; what he hardly noticed is now his pet peeve.
Because when you spend life with someone, the honeymoon will eventually come to an end. It always does.
But this is a good thing. A very good thing. Because then the couple can go from saying they love each other, to really learning what that means.
What is true of marriages is also true of any relationship where we share life. Parents and kids. Roommates. Siblings. Work mates. Fellow church members.
The initial excitement of having a baby soon is overwhelmed by sleepless nights and unexplained crying. You look forward to sharing a room with your best college buddy – until he won’t turn his music down when you are trying to study for a mid-term. Having a sister is great, until she borrows your Uggs without asking first. Your cubicle mate at work is great when he buys lunch; not so great when he leaves work early and you have to finish the project yourself.
And what about church? Does the honeymoon ever end there? No, the honeymoon never ends at church … until you go back for the second week.
The truth is: whether in marriage, or in family, or at work, or at school, or at church – life is lived by learning to love each other after the honeymoon is over. In marriage, the best growth that a couple experiences happens not when they are on the cruise; it’s when they learn to make a life together when things aren’t cruising along so smoothly. And you know a friend is really a friend when she sticks by you when the good times roll, and when the good times roll right past you.
And so, in church, we should not expect things to always be perfect. Or smooth. Or easy. We should not expect the honeymoon to last forever. In fact, we should welcome it when the honeymoon ends. Because it’s when the honeymoon ends that the real work takes place. And we really learn to love, to care for each, to fight fair, and to stick with each other, no matter what.
So, here’s to the end of the honeymoon – and the opportunity to really grow, and become what we are meant to be in Christ. Together.