on friendship and marriage

Have I ever told you about my beautiful friend Andrea?

Okay, yeah, she’s beautiful physically. NO denying that. And she’s beautiful in her soul as well . . .

She and I met when I was a freshman in college and she was a sophomore. (MIZ-ZOU.)  She led one of the freshman small groups with RUF; I was in the other one. But we still got connected.

This photo is circa 2007, but we were super close by then.

And then? I was a sophomore and she was a junior, fall 2006. We found ourselves leading a freshman small group. To share faith, beliefs, even friendship with freshmen girls? Well, frankly, it’s a bit of pressure. That first semester, Andrea and I were more like colleagues than friends. I was wrapped up in my stuff, and she in hers.

That semester, we faced disappointment after disappointment. One week, we had a solid group of sweet, open girls. And the next week, we had no one. No kidding — we waited outside a dining hall for 45 minutes one week and no one showed up.

Our hearts hurt and our optimism fell bleak. We would walk home or drive home to our own spots. That was that.

And then one night.Oh, how I wish I had noted what day it was . . . but it was the start of the spring 2007 semester, I’ll tell you that.

We sat in Andrea’s white SUV and she looked at me and told me this simple and captivating story. She retold a coffee date she had with Ross, our campus minister (who would later marry Mr. S. and me, but that’s another story). Ross said that she needed to be intentional about building friendships . . . or something like that. That’s what I heard, anyway.

Andrea asked if I wanted to meet at the same time every week. My answer? Absolutely.

And so we pulled out our equally well-organized planners and scheduled things in. The rest is fuzzy.

But this, I remember exactly: “If you were my bridesmaid, my wedding would be perfect,” Andrea said. “And if you were my bridesmaid,” I said, “my wedding would be perfect.”

Long story short, INTENTIONALITY FOR THE WIN. 

Like I said, she’s beautiful inside and out. Beautiful enough to share my own words of wisdom with me.

Mere months after my own wedding, I boldly reflected on it all in an email to her. One of Andrea’s friends was getting married soon, so I offered advice to pass along.

“Wedding planning made very apparent the enormous chasm between God’s plan and the world’s plan. The world pushes towards an event, a perfect day, color-coding and preparation and money and the right food, the right drinks, the right music, the right dress, the right venue, just to name a few things. Yet Jesus pushes towards a covenant that, if done well, can point others toward Him and ultimately give Him glory. This is difficult because the world’s push is so verbal, so obvious, and it comes from every direction. His push comes in quiet and it’s easier to ignore. Really, the best champagne toast money can buy would never do our Heavenly Father the justice He deserves. The best gift you can give her is to remind her of the three-way covenant she’s about to make with her soon-to-be husband and her Lord.”

And she, the amazing woman that she is, kept this gem. She has forwarded it to a handful of soon-to-wed friends. She copied me recently on an email to a friend of hers who got married 72-ish hours ago.

Here I am, 19 months into marriage.

And with a few revisions, I find this still to be a treasured truth for more than a wedding.

Oh, friends, it’s more than a wedding. It’s about a marriage. It’s about a lifetime together with one flawed-yet-fantastic person. Marriage is about having the capacity for failure and the capacity for success. We mourn together, we rejoice together. Let me be blunt: Marriage for Christ is a radical demonstration that we’re broken and imperfect and falling apart, but we’re doing all of this mess together.

Adapted . . .

Marriage makes very apparent the enormous chasm between God’s plan and the world’s plan. The world pushes towards a perfect home, perfect sex, a perfect bank account, a perfect compatibility, perfect intimacy, perfect desires constantly fulfilled. Yet Jesus pushes towards a covenant that, if done well, can point others toward Him and ultimately give Him glory. This is difficult because the world’s push is so verbal, so obvious, and it comes from every direction. His push comes in quiet and it’s easier to ignore. Really, the best marriage by Earthly standards would never do our Heavenly Father the justice He deserves. The best gift we can give our friends, our neighbors, our colleagues, our families and our spouses is to remind each other of the three-way covenant we make daily with our spouse and  our Lord.

Oh yes. Oh yes.

Every relationship is difficult. Marriage, because it’s the deepest relationship we’ll face on this Earth, is the most difficult of them all. Yet, it’s the stage set for the most precious grace.

{Credit where credit is due: Andrea, thank you. Thank you for all, all, all of it.}

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5 thoughts on “on friendship and marriage

  1. Almost cried while reading this. At work. Love you both.

    As a girl who was in that freshman Bible study, I want to say that you two could not have been better leaders, who became mentors, who became two of my most cherished friends. God has and will continue to work through both of you for His glory.

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