I Still Choose You
Lisa Simpson brightened perennial misfit Ralph’s day by giving him a train-themed valentine that said “I choo-choose you.”
As I renewed my vows with Fred in the famed Little White Chapel in Las Vegas recently, I couldn’t help but think of those words. After 13 years of marriage, Fred and I are still choosing each other.
When we got married the first time, I got so caught up (and stressed out) by the dress, flowers, and location that little else seemed to matter. But this time standing in front of strangers, it was about only one thing: letting Fred know that I still want to be with him and in some ways that made our 10-minute Vegas ceremony more meaningful than the extravagant first one.
After all, 13 years ago we were two pretty naïve and inexperienced kids who didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. But this time when we stood before that minister, we knew exactly what “for better or worse” looks like and yet we both willingly said “I do” again.
As part of the ceremony, the minister asked us to define love. I quoted a portion of the 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 (at least the parts that I could remember).
“ Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
While I know for certain that I have fallen short of that definition on many days, I am so thankful that Fred hasn’t given up on me, and that we have found away to love and endure through it all.
Let’s Do It Again
On a whim I said, “Let’s get married again.” Kim looked at me like I was crazy. I’m quite familiar with this look because I’m prone to say off-the-wall things at any given moment.
“Are you serious?” she asked.
“Of course I’m serious,” I said. “It’ll be a great way to celebrate our anniversary.”
When she finally realized that I wasn’t joking, her face lit up and we began to plan our vow renewal ceremony. After several days of scouring the internet, we finally decided to hold our ceremony at the Little White Wedding Chapel.
On the day of the ceremony, I actually started to feel a little nervous. It almost felt like we were getting married for the first time. My nerves settled down after I got my first look at Kim wearing her new dress. She looked absolutely stunning.
The chapel sent a limo to pick us up, and I felt like a celebrity as the bellhops escorted us into our chariot.
At the chapel, we filled out reams of paperwork and paid our fees. The cashier assigned us a minister and pointed us in his direction. The minister shocked me by asking if it was okay to mention God during the ceremony. As a minister, I would expect him to be in the business of mentioning God all the time. I guess God isn’t always the first thing on people’s minds when they get married in Vegas.
The ceremony started with our walking down the aisle as the minister played a wedding march on his tiny boombox. He said a few words about marriage and then asked us for our definition of love. Kim recited several verses from 1 Corinthians 13 (Love is patient. Love is kind….). I talked about how love is much more than a feeling. Love is expressed through action. Without acts of love, a couple is left with nothing after the romance fades (and it will fade).
Our definitions flustered the minister.
“You said all of the things I was going to say,” he complained. After a few minutes he regained his composure and complimented us for having such a mature view of love.
We concluded the ceremony by reciting vows and exchanging rings. As I held Kim’s hand and spoke my words of commitment, I felt a deep connection with her. In that moment, 13 years of marriage flashed before my eyes. The good times and bad times all worked together to bring us to that moment in time where we were about to stand before God and man and say, “You’re the one I love, and I’ll marry you all over again.”