Column: Giving away freedom

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Commentary by Rev. Michael VandenBerg

June — the month of love, weddings, sunshine, rain and the longest day of the year. All of these are true, and perhaps are a visual reminder of a truth many of us tend to forget. In all the joys of marriage, we voluntarily give away our freedom.

My wife and I are coming up on 41 years of marriage — 41 years of laughter and tears, crisis and success, children and parents, joy and anger, learning from one another and being and becoming one another’s best friends.

In that same time span, I have performed over 250 weddings for couples, each voluntarily making those same pledges. But we forget at times the extravagant promises we make to one another in the sunshine of our youth and the freedoms we gladly give away.

To love and to cherish, to have and to hold, in both sickness and in health, in rich times and poor and exclusively living with and for one another. We voluntarily give away our freedoms for the right of going through life with another by our side, watching our back, helping us become the best we can be and together becoming more than either of us could have been individually. We voluntarily give away our freedoms with overgenerous pledges and vows to insure that we wake beside another each day to have the assurance that another will be there for us at the end of the day.

We give ourselves to another and, as the Bible says, become one with each other so that in spite of our individual strivings we serve first and foremost the other, giving to them our very best. In making this pledge, we come to know over time that I no longer have to protect my back, look out for myself or be concerned with my wellbeing because the one to whom I have pledged myself will be taking care of those needs as I will be taking care of these same needs for them.

But there is another element in this equation that we also tend to forget. As well as making these vows and promises to each other, we also make them to, for and in the presence of God, who is the only one who can give us the strength to accomplish these herculean vows.

God is necessary in any marriage to give it the strength to keep the extravagant, rash and overgenerous vows that we make to one another. He is the unseen but totally necessary component that gives marriages the ability to be the foundational unit in all of human endeavor, that helps us see beyond our own wants to the beauty of a life fully given to another.


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