I wonder what kind of sickness each of us pictures when we say our wedding vows? I suppose more people use non-traditional vows anymore, but you know the line I'm talking about in its seemingly infinite variation.
for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part
It is easy to picture ourselves standing by our mate through a cold, maybe even the flu. Perhaps for some it is even easy for us to imagine if something more sinister, more permanent, more deadly were to happen. Some movies and novels have even almost romanticized the notion of seeing your mate through something hard to the end ... whatever end that may be (The Notebook, Return to Me?).
Reality is a lot less romantic than a movie. That glance in the middle of the night that says "Do you want to go or do you want me to?" Keeping your cool when your mate sleepily mumbles something about an early start when he hears a child for the first time at 4am, and you've been up nursing them for 45 minutes every hour since before you stumbled to the bed where they were already snoring softly.
Serving one another wordlessly in the dark of the night over a pile of sheets that must go in the wash... because if they don't, and she throws up again, there will be no more sheets.
Your strong and able mate suddenly struck in their prime with something the doctors can't explain but which has stolen their stamina, strength, and disposition. You don't even have a name to lash out at or fight against. Do you turn on your mate instead?
What about mental illness? How it always bothered me that Mr. Rochester was already married to Bertha Mason and it more recently bothered me that Michael Gregson moved to another country in order to divorce his insane wife. I can only hope that if I lose my mind Tim will put up with me. I actually think he would. He does pretty well in my temporary lapses of sanity. But there are mental illnesses that are just as devastating that aren't as dramatic as locking your spouse in the attic or an asylum.
Sickness of spirit. What if the sickness threatening to tear your marriage apart is spiritual; a battle between God's good and the enemy's evil? When the door is opened to walk away even by legalistic Biblical standards ... what do you do? Will you listen to God and your heart when instead of pats on the back and sympathy others recoil with horror and disbelief in their eyes?
As I ponder raising two girls and watch them begin to pretend to be brides and princesses, I want to be a counter culture. I'm not against Disney. But I want their feet to be shod in the swiftness of the Gospel, I want their heads sealed with a crown bearing the seal of the King of Kings, I want their beautiful gowns to be pure and clean and befitting the bride of His Son.
I want them to look on their future husband with love, not only foggy and sparkling kind on the glossy pages of their wedding album (though there is a place for that), but through the lens of a servant who only thinks of serving her King by loving her husband even when washing his feet means getting her hands dirty.