When a close friend marries, do you lose a friend or gain a friend? It probably depends. But the friendship is going to change some way, some how. A very close friend of mine, Kerry Bacon, is getting married this weekend to Jim Samppala. In honor of that marriage, I’d like to propose a toast to the bride.
You are a relatively new friend in the life of this old lady. We don’t go back to grade school, high school or even college. Rather, we’ve bonded around Creekside, past lives abroad, a love of mission, reading the whole Bible together every year, and experiencing life-threatening illness with our husbands. You lost the love of your life; mine came back. It was very hard to diverge in this way. You were Faith to me, when my faith was a speck of dust. Thank you.
But now God is giving you a new love – the love of the rest of your life. I’m so thrilled. The divergence is converging. We’ll be married ladies again. All that I rejoice in with my husband, I now see being restored to you. Praise God! Our friendship will enter a new season.
More importantly, you and Jim are entering a new season. Collectively, you have 84 years experience of marriage. Yet that will help you only a little. Rather, it’s an immense reason for gratitude. You’re going to be newlyweds, starting fresh, with all the delight and surprises that only marriage can bring. You’re making a new union with the love of the rest of your lives. You’re blending households, families, purpose, destiny.
I will give you only a little marriage advice, which you don’t really need. (But if you want more, let me know. 😊) Treat tensions as information about your spouse. Be a perpetual learner about your spouse. Forgive daily. Be happy you married a sinner, so you can pilgrimage together to Calvary every day. Set your mind on Jesus Christ, on gratitude, on encouraging each other to flow in your gifts and on bearing kingdom fruit together.
On the occasion of our daughter’s wedding, Kent made a toast I love. I share portions here with my own additions:
I want to reflect on the reality that this represents not only the joining of two individuals, but also the joining of two families.
Each of you is going to have to learn to relate to that foreign culture of the other family as represented by your chosen mate. You may be surprised at your new spouse's unexpected rigid adherence to the norms taught them by their native family (or developed in your first marriage), which may seem normal to them, but strange to you, possibly even weird or unjust. There may be some tensions at first as you learn to adjust to the strange culture of your spouse.
Though you will never lose your uniqueness as individuals or your connection with your old families, you are forming a new family which is a blending of both. God made us male and female, that we might form a new creation in the marriage of two unique individuals.
Take the best of your heritage, discard the worst, and create something that is new and wonderful. This unique new creation is the miracle of the marriage union, and this new family so much better than simply trying to clone the old families. What you are creating is beautiful, and we look forward with great expectation to see it blossom and bloom.
So I offer this toast to Kerry, and to Jim, to all those who have helped them grow into the people they are today, and to the new family God is creating that will merge the best of each.
God bless you and answer every prayer beyond all you can ask or think!