Forty years ago today my parents said, "I do." And they've continued to say it every single day of their married lives. Not always with those exact words, but always in their actions, always in their commitment to one another.
And every day of my own life, I've watched them live out their vows.
I've seen them grow closer as "in sickness and in health" meant everything from kids with the flu to the scary stuff like babies in the hospital and a journey through prostate cancer.
I've seen them grow closer as "for richer or for poorer" meant working extra odd jobs, sewing clothes, and sharpening old crayons for the new school year.
I've seen them grow closer as "for better or for worse" often included what felt like the worst. But they've always walked through it, hand in hand, and they've always come out the better for it.
This year my parents are celebrating their anniversary in Italy. It's a dream come true for them. But I believe the actual reason for them being overseas is even more special. My brother and sister-in-law are missionaries in Slovenia, and this past week they've hosted a camp for students in their Fusion ministry.
My parents have been able to take part, and, thanks to modern technology, I've been able to pretend like I'm a fly on the wall and see what's going on through videos, pictures and entertaining facebook updates. It's been a joy to see my dad and brother work alongside each other to build the risers for the choir . . . to see my dad take the drum students under his capable wings . . . to see my mom encourage the aspiring pianists in their midst . . . to hear my brother in the background speak Slovene as though it's second nature . . . to see my mom hold her granddaughter on her hip, a light in her eyes . . . to hear of my sister-in-law leading a young woman to Christ . . . and to know that this is what matters . . . this is what it's all about.
This is why we say "I do" to the sickness and health, the poverty and wealth. Because often God uses a team -- a couple -- to accomplish His eternal work and to mold us and shape us to be more like His own Son. As our pastor often reminds us, the purpose of marriage isn't to make us more happy, it's to make us more holy. And in His glorious goodness, God has allowed us to take part in the stuff that really matters, the stuff that really makes a difference on this holy journey.
I sat in front of the computer yesterday, eager to watch the Fusion concert from afar, and my eyes unexpectedly filled with tears as I saw first my dad and then my mom pass in front of the camera, wearing their team shirts, ready to do their work. There wasn't anything particularly amazing about what they were doing at that moment, but all the same, I could hear it. They were saying, "I do." Not necessarily with those words, but always with their actions. They were a team, just like they've always been.