The laughter from the 150 people sitting before us offered me a gracious moment to compose myself. I took a deep breath and willed myself to continue on in this intimate profession that seemed awkward to be making before so many.
I had just told you that one day we would make babies together; hardly something you make a habit of speaking about in front of a crowd.
It came after a string of poetic lines, “Together we are obedient to God in our life as one. Together we will go, reach, and teach the nations His name.Together we will seek to know Him intimately.Together we will do our part in populating His earth.” That last line is the one that evoked some snickering from our witnesses.
As I sniffled back a runny nose in an oh-so-not elegant fashion, and wiped wet joy from my eyes, I asked myself again why we had decided to write our own vows.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it through even the first lines without breaking down. My love for you and my inexpressible joy to be uniting myself to you—it was overwhelming. It still is.
But the truth is, when I promised you that we would do our part together in populating God’s green earth—I should not have stopped there.
For us, making babies was the easy part. There is a bigger promise I should have made to you that day as we slipped gold bands of promise around each other’s fingers; one I could not have imagined back then would need a vow to stand behind it.
I should have promised you that I would always put you before those children we would create together.
Because really, this is a difficult vow to keep. Not because I don’t want to, but because motherhood took me by surprise. I knew being a mama would one day demand a bulk portion of my time, love, and energy; but I didn’t understand just how all-consuming it would be.
I couldn’t foresee just how much of my soul would be intermingled with the souls of these little people we’ve created.
I could not have known how exhausted I would be at days’ ends, when you return home from your own tiring day at work. Or how my mind would feel like an overstretched rubber band by the time you sit down on the couch after the kids are in bed, and want to hold a real conversation.
I also could not have known how much my heart would grow. First when I married you, and then with the birth of each of our three boys.
And here is the truth: even with the three new directions my heart has expanded to accommodate three new loves in my life —you are still my favorite.
You always will be.
I know I seem distracted, because I am; and exhausted and spent; I am those also. I know my actions don’t always speak to this fact, but you come before these boys in my heart.
I may have failed at promising you this on our wedding day; there is so much I didn’t know back then.But I promise you now that in God’s gracious reminders, day by day, I’ll get better at this.
I’ll keep doing those things we’re making habits of, the ones that not only reassure our hearts, but also reassure our childrens’, that mom and dad’s relationship is a solid foundation they can rest securely in.
Things like holding each other’s hands in public.
And kissing often, and in front of them.
And instructing them that they cannot interrupt our conversations, but must wait their turn.
And by me telling them, “Daddy comes first.”
And when you’re not around, speaking to them about how wonderful you are to us.
And by making sure they know you come first in the line for kisses.
And by sitting next to you on the couch. Close.
And by hugging you not only in passing, but to linger.
I have seen that when these things are put into practice in our home, and when our children understand that I love them to infinity, but I love you even more, they are not left feeling unloved. No, rather they are reassured.
They need to know that we are one, and will not waver in our love for each other. This is how they feel most loved.
I know some may label us extreme in this, especially in a society that says our children should always come first, but my vow stands. You come before them.
This August marks us six years wed. Glancing back at the journey we’ve trekked so far, there is so much I could never have anticipated. Looking before us is another mystery. I understand myself enough to know that my actions will not always portray this vow I make, to place you first. For those instances, remember please how I ended my vows to you way back when we were so new.
“I promise I will let you down. I will fail you. But I promise you, I make my solemn vow, that we will not break. My love for you will never end, but always grow.”