One of my best friends, my baby sister Jennifer, got married last night to my new brother Christian! Congrats to the Florys! I had the privilege of serving as her maid of honor. After months of work, one of my final opportunities was a speech to toast the new couple at the reception. Knowing that yesterday was a literal blur of mascara, hair spray, camera flashes, people and exhaustion, I wanted to write it out for them here.
If you’re interested too, here it is:
My name is Courtney and I have the privilege of being this beautiful bride’s older sister. I’m going to try to get through this speech without breaking down, so please allow me to stick to the script here to keep me on track.
Since I’ve never been married, I’m not going to try to offer cute advice to you two. I’d be speaking out of complete ignorance. However one plain thing I do know about marriage is that it is two sinners coming together to live under one roof. Two people who at the deepest, most natural and fleshly state of their heart want what’s best for THEM. So even this single girl knows without a doubt that there will be sin. There will be error. There will be fault. There will be hurt. There will be offense. There just will.
So, what I need to remind you two of today on this, the first day of your marriage, is that, Jennifer and Christian, because you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, there is nothing you can do to make God love you more and there’s nothing you can do to make him love you less. In Christ, you have complete and total acceptance and approval from God the Father, right here, right now, until the day you meet him face-to-face. Whether you’re the best spouse or the worst spouse, there is no chance of earning more or losing any of God’s affection. NO MATTER WHAT.
Your standing before God in Christ is completely righteous. For God made him who knew no sin to be sin for you, Christian and, for you, Jennifer, so that in him, you might become the righteousness of God. In Christ, through Christ, and because of Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection, God has set his affection –his love– on you. To quote my favorite kid’s Bible: “God loves you with a never-ending, never giving up, unstopping, always and forever love.”
In light of that, let me simply encourage you to love each other out of the knowledge of God’s love for you. When there is offense, remember that God in Christ gives you grace upon grace upon grace upon grace for your offenses (John 1:16). When there is hurt, remember that while we were yet still Christ’s enemies, he died for us (Rom. 5:10). When there is a lack of love between you two, remember that God pours down his love into your heart through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). When there is pain, remember that Jesus Christ himself endured the cross of excruciating pain, scorning its shame for the joy set before him. You were the joy set before Christ, Christian, my new brother. You were the joy set before Christ, Jen, my precious baby sister. The joy of being in a relationship with you was set before Jesus…and he pressed on.
So please, please, please don’t simply pursue a perfect marriage. It will exhaust you. It will frustrate you. It will make you an. absolute. CONTROL. FREAK. It’s simply out of reach.
Instead, pursue Perfection himself, Jesus Christ. He is the prize–not the perfect marriage. He is your fullest rest. He is your abundant joy. He is your ultimate freedom. He is your truest peace. He is your most extravagant love.
And then you two each just get to be the earthly icing on a heavenly cake…
…and who doesn’t love icing??!!
All my love to the happy couple and my best friend.