May 25, 2012

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Grace makes wedding day love grow deeper

Sean GallagherWith 10 siblings and dozens of cousins, it’s not unusual for my wife, Cindy, and her extended family to have two or more weddings each summer. We’ve already been to one, and another is coming in early June.

We celebrated our wedding on June 9, 2001. It was the most wonderful day of our lives. Hundreds of our family and friends gathered with us at St. Bartholomew Church in Columbus. In the presence of God, they witnessed us exchange our vows of marriage. Those vows were the fruit of the love for each other that God had planted in our hearts.

The glory of what occurred indoors that day was matched by the day’s weather. It was warm, but not humid, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Everyone who attended our wedding enjoyed themselves as they made their way from the church to our reception.

When they walked into the reception at The Commons in Columbus, they saw red everywhere. Red roses decorated the tables. Red tulle graced the head table and the balcony overlooking the main floor of the reception. The bridesmaids wore beautiful red dresses.

For Cindy and me, two children of the ‘80s, it was fitting that the song which our wedding party danced to was the 1986 pop hit “The Lady in Red” by Chris de Burgh. That song was special for us because we had danced to it on our first date in 1991.

All of these and other wonderful memories make up the images that I cherish of our wedding day. They’re probably similar to the memories that you who are married have of your wedding day.

Now fast forward nearly 11 years—and 21 years from that first date. I unexpectedly heard “The Lady in Red” as I was getting ready to leave a grocery store late one weeknight. It was playing over the store’s public address system. I had gone there to buy some milk after a long work day and long evening of putting our four boys to bed.

Although I was tired and wanted to go home and get to bed, I just stood there and listened while it played. I did that to relish in the grace-inspired love in our marriage that had only broadened and deepened in the intervening years since our wedding.

That grocery store and the often arduous life that Cindy and I share as we raise four young boys seemed, on the surface, worlds away from our wedding day.

I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, not a tuxedo. I was standing in a rundown grocery store surrounded by strangers, not in a beautiful church and reception hall with friends and loved ones around me. And while the music played, the constant chatter of shoppers and workers and the ringing of cash registers almost drowned out the song.

As I stood there and strained to listen to the song, the walls of time and space spiritually disappeared and I was taken back to June 9, 2001. God gave me a tangible taste that night of just how much more sweet love is in a marriage founded on his loving grace than the artificial romance we spend so much to create for our wedding day.

When we approach with faith this divine love that brings a husband and wife together as one, the daily grind of family life doesn’t diminish its sweetness. It can actually make it even richer.

All of us are either married or know people who are. It would be good for us, then, to pray for all married couples that their mutual love be strengthened, increased, and evermore fully rooted in God’s selfless and unconditional love for us all.

When that happens, marriages will become an ever-renewed wellspring of God’s love in this world even when the romance of a wedding day is just a memory. †

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