By Betty Slade | PREVIEW Columnist
My Sweet Al and I received a phone call this morning from our grandson. He was thinking about his granddad and me. After we hung up, Al said, “Did he just call to talk?”
“Yes, but it was more. He talked about his new bride with tenderness and respect. He’s a young man in love. He wants to make a trip home to Pagosa for us to meet his bride.”
The marriage was a surprise to all of us. Last Christmas morning, he called to tell us he got married in Las Vegas. An “Oh, no,” shot through my gut. What has he done? He hardly knows her. Can he provide for a wife? I don’t think so. Should we be happy for him? I guess so if he’s happy.
My imagination rushed in before I had the facts. I pictured his Las Vegas wedding with a fat want-to-be Elvis in a white rock star jumpsuit with a red cape singing “White Christmas.” The newlywed couple exchanging vows in a moonlight chapel with a disco ball and with paid strangers to vouch for their wedding. A blow-up pink plastic Santa Claus and reindeer would add to the sparkly tinsel town experience as they said, “I do.”
That morning the family sat around the Christmas tree, exchanging gifts, with stunned looks and secretly thinking, “What was he thinking?”
Al and I were married on April Fools’ Day. No one gave our wedding a chance. What were we thinking? We weren’t thinking. We were in love. We have had some rough patches, but it isn’t how we started on this journey, but how we’re finishing is what counts.
April Fools’ Day marks our 63rd anniversary. I said to my Sweet Al, “It’s a miracle for sure. When you walk into the house with muddy boots and an armload of firewood, leaving the door wide open and heat going out, I want to come unglued. But, over time, I’ve learned to hold my words. You’ve said to me, ‘I’m just trying to keep you warm. I’m taking care of my home and family.’”
I respond, “Even tracking in mud, I can’t stay mad at you for long.”
Yes, we are still learning how to be married.
Al tells me, “I think I’m a pretty good guy and I’ve made you a good husband and a pretty good provider.”
And I respond, “Yes, you have. You made a good living for our family. You’ve loved me when I’ve been hard to love and you’ve always treated me with total respect. It takes work to have a good marriage.”
God uses the marriage between a man and woman as an example to demonstrate his love for the church. No wonder marriages are under attack, especially among his church members. Our children have thanked us many times for staying together. Wasn’t always easy, but God’s way is never easy. We’ve had to learn how to surrender to each other, and over the years our love has grown.
As I read in Psalm 45 this morning, about the wedding of God’s Son and his bride, the church, I’m taken with how the groom is smitten by the beauty of his bride. It’s a picture of the suffering love of Jesus for His bride, the church, and how He laid down His life for us.
“God has anointed the groom, more than any other, with his oil of fervent joy, the very fragrance of heaven’s gladness. And standing beside him, glistening in his pure and golden glory, is the beautiful bride-to-be … For Jesus, the royal bridegroom is ravished by the bride’s beautiful brightness.” —Psalms 45:7,11 (TPT).
This reminds me of a favorite scripture I’ve bound to my heart, how a man in love treats and honors his bride.
Proverbs 30:18, in the NKJV, states, “There are three things which are too wonderful for me, and four which I do not understand. The way of an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship in the midst of the sea and the way of a man with a maiden.”
Al looked at me as if to say, ‘What are you talking about?’ So, I explained that the way of a man who loves and treats his bride with such gentleness, it’s too wonderful for me to understand. It’s not a man’s nature.
He can be brutish as a bull, boisterous and rowdy as a fan at a basketball game. But when it comes to the way of a man in love, he wants to protect, conquer and fight for her. He will ski the most dangerous slopes to show off for her. He’ll climb the highest mountain to follow her. He will fell a tree with a single cut just to show her his strength.
My Sweet Al has fought for me. At times I didn’t want him to; I wanted my own way. I wanted to do what I wanted to do. He saved me from myself many times. He took my side and protected me when others treated me wrongly. He listened to my heart when I didn’t make sense. Two fools in love. Maybe April Fools’ Day was a perfect day to be married.
To our grandson for his bride: Always be there for your bride, not to compete with her but to champion her. Be her best friend and partner in life. Vow to comfort, encourage and inspire her each day for the rest of your life. Laugh together. Forgive her. Love her. She’ll challenge you to be the best man you can be. That’s a good thing.
Final brushstroke: Even today, as things have changed and I am watching over my Sweet Al, he has never changed his heart toward me and still wants to protect me. As the scriptures say, it is hard to understand the way of a man with a maiden.
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