I recently attended my nephew's wedding and enjoyed every part of the celebration. Most people expect that there will be stories shared at the rehearsal dinner and reception by loved ones. They're the usual and cursory ones of how perfect the couple are for each other. And while I loved what was said I was inspired by the words and strength of what my nephew's friends expressed. Their words and tribute have stirred my soul and how I think about singleness.
A Life Lived For A Eulogy
In the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People author Stephen Covey uses a funeral eulogy to inspire his readers. He uses this to get people thinking about what will be said in their funeral eulogy. Covey instructs us to imagine someone from our family, a co-worker, fellow church congregant, and a friend standing up and speaking a few words. How will you be remembered and what will they say? Maybe you've heard of this approach, or a similar one. Have you ever considered what your eulogy will contain?
The pages of the book stirred me to pause and look closely at my own life, and what I stood for. Words and their meaning like principled, integrity, honor, steadfast, and dependable weighed heavily in me. And that's what I heard as my nephew's friends shared about their experiences together. Friends expressing themselves as they would've at his funeral, about the years of his singleness and the friendship they had together. They called him by his last name and not in sarcastic locker room tones, but in what I saw as masculine affection. His friends shared how college brought them together, but to me the gospel is what made them friends, and the gospel has kept them friends. I saw signs of this in how they loved each other in spite of their flaws.
I was 27 when married, and my singleness was probably similar to my nephews. Similar in the sense that we were both believers and wrestled with decisions and temptations, loneliness and insecurities. But I can confidently say that I wasn't known by anyone, nor did I know other men. I sensed from my nephews friends that they really knew each other, but they knew the gospel as well. I believe that leads to seeing each other redemptively. The gospel is really what I saw. It just happened to include my nephew and his wife.
Someone reading this could rightly ask "what about the bride and her friends?" I want to be really careful because what I'm saying is not to make light of or be dismissive of Danilee. And it isn't how perfect the bride and groom were for each other. Were they a beautiful couple? Yes! Was the bride's story compelling? Absolutely! Were the bride and groom perfect for each other? Well, I guess one could say that, but ask any couple who's been married for any amount of time where those exact words were said about them. What would they now say? The gospel says that it's not that a couple are perfect for each other, but that Christ's perfection is perfect for every imperfect couple.
For the first time ever at a wedding, in tribute and toasts offered I heard strength and weakness, beauty and ashes, tearing and binding, living and dying. I saw loneliness and companionship, exhaustion and energy, an end to two peoples singleness and a beginning of a marriage. But a beginning filled with the hope of the gospel. Toasts are given and glasses raised at every wedding, but couples should be living lives of singleness beforehand in such a way where the most compelling toast at their wedding is raising a glass to the Gospel: celebrating the perfection of Christ in bringing two imperfect people together.