I have a few favorite kinds of marriages.

My first favorite is the long, first marriage. This is the one where two people met and fell in love when they were young, and they are still together many years later. And you can tell that life hasn’t always been easy but they stayed partners. And somewhere along the way you can’t really imagine them with anyone else but who they are with.  My aunt and uncle are like this.  They raised their children well.  They loved and served God together.  They are friends.  They enjoy being together.  It’s not been a piece of cake all the time, I’m sure, but through the ups and downs and all the times in between, they stayed together, they just kept choosing each other. And it’s a gift to their children and extended family and friends to see a lifelong commitment lived out in the day to day. I love lifetime marriages.

And then there’s my kind. Where one or both had first marriages that weren’t good and something happened and we both ended up no longer married and on our own.  Where I didn’t think I’d ever remarry, didn’t think I’d ever be a well-loved woman like I had dreamed of, and then one day, I found someone. And God is giving me and my sweet man a second chance. And it is possibly the loveliest and certainly the most surprising gift of my life, to get to do marriage right during the second half of my life.  It’s redemption playing out every day in my home and I breathe gratefulness in and out of me because I almost can’t believe it.  I love second-chance marriages.

But then there’s this other kind, and it just might be my favorite.  It’s when a couple got together and the circumstances surrounding their union perhaps weren’t ideal.  They maybe weren’t all in at the very beginning, not out of ill intentions but simply because of where their hearts were at the time, or how young they were, or whatever.  And maybe they stumbled.  And maybe they weren’t always sure they were going to make it to the finish line together.

In a few weeks, I’m going to the recommitment ceremony of two of my dear, dear friends.  They are living out quite the story. They have five children and have loved so many more than their own.  They serve.  They give.  They love God. They are honest, honest people.  They do not hide.  And at some point on their journey, it seems, they stopped asking themselves and each other if they were going to make it, and they dug their heels in and decided they were. That they were becoming who God wanted each of them to become because they were married to the other. Because maybe God knew what he was doing way back when when he crossed their paths.  Because yes, God’s glory shines through those couples who are all in love for a lifetime, but there’s a ray of hope with a more poignant tint of brilliance that bursts through when things were perhaps once precarious but now are stronger than ever, when you can tell the tie that binds them has been through the fire.  You can see God in their collective, partnered-up story.

And so I will sit there, with my new husband, with some of my closest friends whose marriages are beautiful to me, and we will celebrate and cry (lots and lots of crying I’m foreseeing) as these two sweet people look at each other – surrounded by their children and surrounded by their people, their little village – and say to each other “I choose you again. Knowing all we know now, neither of us are going anywhere. I choose you.”

And it will cause each one of us sitting in their backyard that day to be grateful for what we’ve got, to squeeze the hand of the person we came with, to whisper to God thank you for keeping them together. And it will be gorgeous and breath-taking and will restore our hope in love and holding on. And that’s my very favorite kind.

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