A few weeks ago, my friend Charity wrote on Facebook that a photo of her friend's grandparents had made The Huffington Post. I clicked on the link and saw the breathtaking image of this husband and wife. I was instantly caught up in the beauty and tragedy of it. I imagined what was going through the wife's mind as she held the fragile hand of her dying husband. I imagined the memories they shared together -- the joys and challenges. I imagined the birth of their first child and raising a family in their home. I pictured his strength and her beauty at a young age.
From the expression on her face, I saw a woman who deeply loved her man. A woman who fulfilled her commitment and stood on her word to love him "until death do us part." I saw the ache in her soul that he was breathing his last breaths and soon, he would no longer be by her side as her protector, provider, soul-mate, comforter, delight, lover and friend.
And my soul began to ache as I thought about my husband and the deep love we share for one another. It made me think of the vows I promised him on a wintry December day in Virginia amongst all our family and friends eight years ago: "I, Samantha, take you, Jeremiah, to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part."
I also thought about the ways I'd failed my husband over the years and how I still have many areas of growth in loving him the way God intends.
Begin with the End in Mind
The five words "Until death do us part" are spoken of at the wedding altar in regards to lasting commitment but the reality of death being the actual end of the marriage is rarely expounded on. After all, the wedding ceremony shouldn't be depressing right?
But the truth is that in order for our marriages to have the life they need to survive the long haul, we have to begin with the end in mind. Death — no matter how much we try to escape it — is the end and we have made a promise to God, our spouse, and other witnesses to love our spouse until then.