We continued this week at WNW with part 4 of the "Silly Little Love Songs" series. We began the night by splitting the group into guys vs girls. It actually wasn't a game but more of a thinking activity. I had each group elect a representative who drew five phrases out of a box. I had taken the phrases from the nasty valentines day heart candy (I couldn't actually find the candy in stores so I got the phrases off the internet). Then each group was given the task of writing a set of wedding vows using the five phrases that they drew out. After they were done I had the representative from each group read their vows. It was quite comical! After that we went into a worship set that began with a couple of silly worship songs: "So Much", and "Every Move I Make". We then showed the Blimey Cow video "Seven Tips for Successful Dating" and discussed it. Then we wrapped up the worship set with "Hosanna" (Hillsong United).
After a brief review I talked about how we were going to focus on wedding vows for the night. We talked about how a vow is a promise made and within a marriage it is not only a promise to your spouse but to God. We read Ecclesiastes 5:4 to show the seriousness of a vow to God. Often people get married and do not take into consideration the importance of a wedding vow and how it is intended to be forever. This is why we see such a high divorce rate.
The silly little love song for the night was "This I Promise You" by N'Sync. Afterward I shared that the rest of the message was going to be unique as Belinda joined me and we both shared from our hearts. We discussed some of the silly lyrics in the song. First of all the line "I've loved you forever in lifetimes before". Well we know this isn't even possible. You can't love someone before you even know them. Then the main lyric of the night that we talked about was "I promise you'll never hurt anymore". Well this is a great concept, but it definitely is not reality. As much as I would love to stop Belinda from ever having any pain or hard days, it just isn't possible. With sin in the world there is going to be plenty of pain. We read the Scripture that is read in most weddings 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and focused mainly on "love endures all things". If we look at most traditional wedding vows the one closely related to this is "For Better or For Worse". Often you do not truly know what love is until you face one of these "for better or for worse" moments. When your commitment to one another is tested in these moments it determines true love vs infatuation. So Belinda and I both shared some of these moments with the students not so that people would feel sorry for us, but so that they would see how God has worked in us and in our marriage.
I first shared my story of how two weeks after we were engaged I received a phone call from my mom saying that my dad had left and was not coming home. In fact we did not even know where he was. I had always been proud to be the child whose parents were still married but now they were getting a divorce. At this moment I took on a lot of anger. A lot of anger! And Belinda saw me at my worse. But we determined then that we were going to lean on God to work in us and we were committed to not letting this same thing happen to us. Belinda pointed me to Jesus an stood by my side through that very tough season. She saw me at my worse, but helped point me to Jesus so that I could become better.
Then Belinda shared her story that took place just a few weeks short of ten years later. Her story was that terrible day that we received the news that Belinda's dad had tragically taken his own life. This definitely sent on us on a whirlwind that was not only surrounded in grief, but lots of questions, frustrations, and other just odd situations. Belinda shared about some of her struggles and that I stood by her through it all. She said that I was often asking if she needed or wanted to talk and that I never got tired of talking about the situation.
The truth is that as much as I would like to shelter Belinda from any hurt or pain, it simply is not possible. There is sin in this world and we do not know what the future holds. You cannot control your circumstances but you can control how you react. We also shared some of the low points in these times and some of the silly or even stupid ways we reacted to the pain. But we committed to trust in God and allow Him to make us better. I have said it many times and it is definitely true: I would not trade in this pain to miss the pleasure of doing life with my best friend by my side. I am thankful for what God has done in us through these circumstances. I ended by challenging the students to really consider the importance of the vows you make when you get married. Then also to be praying for their future spouse like we discussed a couple of weeks ago. Pray that God will be working in them making them the person who will stand by their side in the "for better or for worse" moments in life. Also they need to be praying for themselves that they will be strong enough to stand by their spouse in these moments.