Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Brennan Manning died too...

A couple of weeks ago, Brennan Manning stepped off the planet and into the capable and loving hands of his Abba.  If you have no idea who Brennan Manning is or think he's in the hands of a celestial disco band from Sweden, then let me take just a moment to explain.

First, Abba.  Not ABBA.  Abba was the name that Brennan most called God.  It's a Semitic expression that renders into English as something like, "Daddy," "Papa," (think Poppa, not Pawpaw) or Popeye's "Pappy." It's colloquial and ever-so-slightly informal, still carrying a sense of reverence but with familiarity.  It's relational to the core but not titular in the least.

And it's perfectly biblical.

The Spirit of Jesus is in us crying, "Abba!" (Gal. 4).  The Spirit of adoption, knowing we are in the family, prompts us to cry, "Abba!" (Rom. 8).  Jesus Himself faced the Garden of Gethsemane with Abba on His lips (Mark 14).  Familiar.  Relational.  Reverent.

Second, Brennan Manning.  I've written about him and his memoir before here.  I'll tell you I'm grateful for him and his ministry, particularly his authorship.  I know more of grace because of that guy.  May that be said of me one day too.

Perfect?  Hardly.  Broken?  Certainly.  Irresponsible?  Probably.  Used?  Definitely.

May that be true of all of us.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, April 29, 2013

George Jones is dead...but he can still teach us

I loved the music of George Jones.  Still do.  Somehow I feel like I'm still walking down to Braum's with my grandfather from their house in Dumas when I listen to him.

Choices (below) might just be the most biblically literate song ever sung by someone in the non-explicitly-Christian genre.  Heck.  It's more biblically literate than some of the explicitly Christian songs that get played on the radio today.

When he sings about choices, he is singing about his accountability before God.  And he knows they're not right.  And he struggles with sin, even though he's "still losing this game of life I play, living and dying with the choices I've made."

Here's what I need (and you too).  We need a little more George Jones in our relationship to sin.  We need to see it for what it is.  We need to fight against it.  We need to lament it when it grabs us.  Instead of whining about it, instead of loving it, instead of embracing it, we need to George-Jones it.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

And as a bonus, here's what just might be the greatest country song ever:

Friday, April 26, 2013

Snakes are Scary: Earth Day Fail

Well, hopefully the kid got credit for being honest...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Would people picket a Westboro funeral?

Let's pretend someone from the Phelps family that makes up the constituency of the Westboro Baptist Church died tomorrow.  Would someone picket that person's funeral with signs, chants, demonstrations, and bullhorns?

I ask that because the not-so-fine folks from Westboro are picketing the memorial service for the West, Texas firefighters and EMTs who died in the explosion of the fertilizer plant.  That memorial service is happening on the campus of my alma mater, Baylor University.  And rumor has it a line of students will be there to make sure Westboro is neither seen nor a nuisance.  Sic 'em Bears.

But back to my question:  would someone picket a Phelps family funeral?

For their 15 seconds of fame?  (we've gone long past fame lasting 15 minutes)

To make a theological statement of God's wrath upon people who are judgmental?

To see if they can get arrested and then generate some revenue by suing the arresting law enforcement organization?

Or how about a what-goes-around-comes-around moment of fairness?

But Westboro and their ilk are a little bit like the kid brother who is annoying the snot out of you in a desperate plea for attention.  The less attention you pay, the more quickly he goes away.

There's a saying in East Texas, where I grew up.  You don't wrestle a pig because you end up muddy and the pig likes it.

Solomon, being slightly wiser than the homespun sayings of East Texas, put a nuance to it:
Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you become like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. (Prov. 26.4-5)
Discernment is certainly needed.

Make your own application...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Pig, a Scale, and the STAAR test

This was written by Pastor Brent Beasley in Fort Worth who I just so happen to know from seminary.  All credit is his.  And what a commentary...

Here's a little something I wrote this morning in honor of STAAR testing:

The Pigs and the Scale

The farmer wants his pigs to be fat. Of course he does. The fatter the better.

He became concerned when he realized that, even though he fed them all the same, some pigs were fatter than others. The problem, he concluded, was that he wasn’t weighing the pigs enough. So he began to weigh the pigs a few times a year. Still, while some of the pigs were getting plenty fat, many of them were still skinny or, at least, not fat enough.

The farmer decided that the best thing to do to solve the problem would be to weigh them again and again throughout the year. So, the farmer invested a lot of his resources in weighing. He developed new types of scales. He began keeping complicated records of the pigs’ weights. He devised a system where he could compare the weights of the pigs not just individually but between each different pen and also based on what color each pig was. All the while, the pigs weren’t getting any fatter. The only thing that seemed to be getting fatter was the wallet of the scale-maker.

So, the farmer added more weigh-ins. And in the days and weeks leading up to each weigh-in, he held practice weigh-ins for the pigs. One day, the pigs were looking longingly at the food piled up around their pens. “No time to waste sitting around eating,” the farmer said. “I need you to practice weighing. Here are some tips on how to make yourself seem heavier.” The only weigh-in strategy that seemed to help at all was eating a good breakfast.

But even on the days that one particular group of pigs wasn’t weighing-in or practicing weighing-in, the farmer didn’t like them to eat. Pigs are noisy eaters, you know. They might disturb the others who are weighing-in or practicing weighing-in. Besides, there was no one to feed them, anyway. All the workers on the farm were overseeing the weighing of the pigs or the practicing of the weighing of the pigs in some of the other pens, so the pigs that weren’t being weighed or practicing being weighed were herded over to one particular area and told to sit still, be quiet, and wait.

After the last weigh-in of the year, everybody relaxed. But the pigs wondered, “Why bother to eat now, if we aren’t going to even be weighed anymore?” The farmer told them that the weighing was only to help them get fatter. But the pigs didn’t believe him. They knew that the scale was much more important than the food. They knew that it’s the weighing that makes a pig fatter. They had been taught that well.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

3 Words to Consider when Standing for Truth

How does one stand for Truth in the midst of the melee that is our current culture?

Let me offer three words of reflection.

First, this word:  Firmly.  Budging, fudging, flirting with boundaries, or downright caving in - none of those are options.  Standing for Truth in the midst of our cultural melee means standing for the Truth.  No compromise is necessary.  And it should not ever enter our mind, even amid pressure and cultural tides and media coverage.

Second, Compassionately.  Just because people are wrong or on the wrong side of something doesn't mean that they aren't worthy of our compassion, mercy, and patience.  The mercy God has extended to us is something we get to extend to others for Jesus' sake.

Third, Winsomely.  Standing firmly and compassionately doesn't meant we can't be funny, likeable, and have a twinkle in our eye as we respond to falsehood.  Winsome is what buys us goodwill with our audience.

And in our day, we need more and more of people who understand and demonstrate all three.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Wow. What a Sunday.

Yesterday was incredible.  The kinds of Sundays that pastors long for and remember.

First, it was a great day with the gathered church.  Singing.  Praying.  Honesty.  Gratitude.  Repentance.  Celebration.  All of that's awesome.  The Word was strong and the worship was focused on Jesus.  So so so good.

Second, and more special to me personally, I got to baptize the Ninja yesterday.  His little life has the markings of Jesus all over it.  When I asked him last week as to why he wanted to be baptized, he stated, "Daddy, I just want to tell all those people that I'm a follower of Jesus now."  I couldn't have scripted it any better.  So so so good.

What a sweet, amazing, powerful time.  My heart is full as I type this.

And that leads me to the question to ponder today:  what if most Sundays were like that?  What if the church gathered in anticipation, with a sense of expectancy hanging around like when you know someone's been smoking but quit before you walked in the room?  It's instinctive and attention-getting.  What if your spiritual senses were acutely aware that God was lingering in the room?

Because it's not as if He doesn't want to meet with His people next week.  And the week after that.  And the week after that.  It's not His passion that waxes and wanes from week to week.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

I missed last Friday's Snakes are Scary, so here's a bonus post...

Hey lady!  Look out.  There's an Orca tail headed your way...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sermon Notes from Sunday 4.21.13

Here are the notes from today's sermon from Ephesians 2.19-22.  You can find these notes in PDF and the sermon audio at sermons.heritagepark.org.  You can also download the audio via our podcast on iTunes.

9 – Church Building
Ephesians 2.19-22

How do you build a church?

Foundation:  Where we stand (v.20)
·      Everything built stands on its foundation
·      Foundation Component 1:  the Word of Christ
·      Foundation Component 2:  the Presence of Christ
·      Both are necessary for a strong foundation

Function:  What we do (v.21)
·      The primary activity of the church is worship
·      Singing is a good barometer for individuals and congregations
·      Some come with expectations but we all need expectancy
·      This is an ongoing project in our hearts and people

Fuel:  How we go (v.22)
·      We are just as sent as we are called
·      Our good works consummate our worship
·      There is a transformational power to being on mission
·      We go in the power of the Holy Spirit

Thursday, April 18, 2013

How I'm praying in these days

How do you pray when news breaks like it has broken this week?

There are many ways.  All of them worthwhile.  Alleviation of suffering.  Justice for the wicked.  Mercy for the wounded.  Healing.  Protection from further damage or attack.  Every prayer offered is worthwhile.  Every one is heard.

Here's how I'm praying and would encourage you to pray for Boston and for West and for other places that endure such things.

Pray for the churches.

Churches can reach out and do things for the Kingdom and in the Spirit that make an eternal impact.  They can give hands and feet to the movement of God in the midst of tragedy, suffering, and loss.  They can give voice to prayers that some might not even know need to be prayed.  They can bear witness to a God who is fully in control and fully sympathetic to pain.  They can meet practical needs and speak to spiritual needs.

Pray for the churches.

Adversity is not our enemy.  God often uses it to stretch His people and transform others into His people.

Pray for the churches.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Cowardice of Zero-Tolerance

I've had this post brewing for a few weeks, so it seems like a good time to let it rip.

I hate zero-tolerance.  I think it's for cowards.

You've seen it all:  kids who have what was once considered a minor infraction at school are expelled or sent to detention for 99 years.  People have been fired because of some insanely small violation of a zero-tolerance policy.  It's all stupid.

My one caveat:  some of the consequences that come down upon people who do dumb things are well-deserved.  Kids who bring loaded guns to school need to be addressed seriously.  A sexually harassing individual should be sent to the curb with a box of desk contents in hand.  End caveat.

But the consequences and the policy don't have to be one and the same.  Thinking people can distinguish between the two.

And that's just the problem.

Zero-tolerance is in place so people don't have to think.  It requires no common sense.  A water pistol brought to school to get a friend back is a weapon, so ZT says you're out.  No common sense needed.  No need to think.

And that's why it is so cowardly.

First, it's cowardly to refuse to look into a situation and find what was really going on, what the issues were, and what the motivations were.

Second, it's cowardly to hide behind the policy of ZT and say, "Well, that's our policy," as if that's Base in a game of adult freeze tag.  "I'm safe!  You can't get me!"

ZT makes good headlines and talking points on a pundit's show.  But it's high time our culture step away from this cowardice and insanity and embrace thinking again.

Hey, that has to start with individuals, doesn't it?

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Terror, Boston, and the Nature of Evil

As I write Monday evening, there are three dead including an 8-year old girl and 130 people injured.  Those are the stats displayed non-stop on my television.  Who knows where the days ahead will take us and what they will reveal.

But I'm scared.

I'm not scared of bombs going off any more than the next guy.  A possibility?  Sure.  Scary?  Yes.  But in the sense of keep-me-up-at-night, no.

Here's what I'm scared of:  we won't call this evil.  It is.  So is the Gosnell situation.  And there are plenty of others.  And because it is, we should call it such.  Evil.  Devoid of good.  Darkness, not light.  Evil.

We cannot lose the capacity to talk about things like this as evil.  If we do, we lose a moral capacity.  That's the thing about evil - if we don't name it as such, the ability to recognize and name it also erodes. There's nothing good about that.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, April 15, 2013

It came down to a single moment

A single moment.  A microsecond.  That's what it came down to on Sunday afternoon.

In that moment, a piece of metal struck polymer and it changed a life.

If you're not quite sure what I'm talking about, here you go.

Jim Nantz said it:  "A life-changer."  Indeed.  Adam Scott is now some $1.2M richer.  He also has a Master's jacket and has now won a major on the PGA tour.  It's hard not to root for the guy.  He basically choked last year at the British Open and then handled it with class.

But it all came down to a single moment.  If his putter hadn't struck the ball just so, who knows what would've happened?  But it did.  It went right in.  A Life-Changer.

I love life-changing moments.  I sappily and tearily watch every stinking video of soldiers coming home to their kids and spouses.  Every one of them.  And I tear up at every one.  I love life-changing moments.

And thus the purpose of this post.  There was another moment on another day on another continent.  A transaction happened where what was mine was laid on Jesus and what was His was credited to me.  That single moment when He said, "It is finished," could have easily been, "A life-changer."  The transaction was done.  Forgiveness is purchased.  Grace is lavished.  Love is displayed.  Life is forever changed.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Snakes are Scary: Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug

Or in this case, the mouse...

(an actual picture from NatGeo from the northern shore of Lake Superior)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

This is a powerful piece on Suicide

Posted in its entirety from C. Michael Patton's blog on Credo House:

I got the news on the road to Florida. My family and I (along with my mother) are in Florida for the Gospel Coalition conference. After this, we drive directly to Dallas were I will be involved in the Christian Renaissance conference. News like this breaks me more than any other. I fall completely apart. It’s times like these I probably should not write. I wept for a bit. On top of so many other issues we were having on the drive, I just wanted to turn around. The Gospel Coalition and Christian Renaissance are incredible conferences that are so valuable . . . for a certain type of person. But for those who have a broken mind and broken spirit, where do they go? What conference is there for Christians who find no peace? What conference is there for those who have all the right doctrine and the right beliefs, but find no healing. What conference is there for one who has an asphyxiation of hope?

As I typed “2013″ minus “27″ in my calculator in order to come up with “1986″ to figure out when Matthew was born, I realized that I was too hurt to think deeply about it right now. How cold. For some reason, coming up with the numbers in my own mind put me too close. So, a distant calculator was better. But what good would these words be, if I selfishly let Matthew turn into a set of numbers produced without my mind: 1986-2013. Let those numbers sink deeply into your mind.

I did not know Matthew Warren. I don’t know his father, Rick Warren . . . at least personally. Yet I am very familiar with his ministry. Unfortunately, most of the time that Rick Warren comes up on the radar in my circles is in order to throw his life and ministry under the bus of an agenda that lives or dies by the controversy they create. I have never joined this crowed . . . even in the slightest. Rick Warren’s focus and heart are amazing. What he has done for so many to increase the glory of Christ is beyond measure. His book, Purpose Driven Life is a wonderful book that has lighted a fire in the hearts of many stagnant Christians.

Yet, yesterday, as I continued to drive after hearing the news, I thought to myself, Pastor Warren has provided the purpose driven life to countless millions.  Yet, the one closest to him, the one for whom he undoubtably feels the most responsible, the one whom he love the most, could not find that purpose to drive his life. I also bowed my head, as I thought of all those who might have minds poisoned to the point of putting the blame back on Rick Warren. I have not looked to see if there are any who have, but God help them if there are.

You see, I know the what the darkness feels like that led Matt to do what he did. I have been there for a short time. I know how easy it is to pull that trigger. I know what it feels like to have a black hole that somehow drains the breath of every hope you have. It is like hanging on a cross where you cannot catch your breath anymore. Everyone around is offering all their quick solutions (which I did before I went through this), adding only shame to the already insufferable pain. I came out of it, and I don’t know how or why. Matthew never did.

My sister never did. Angie yelled in pain every night, as she called on me to save her. I had never heard the screams of emotional pain before. I had never experienced the wailing that the soul produced. The sound and the hurt was apocalyptic. “Michael! Get back up here!! You are a pastor. You are supposed to be able to do something.” I walked down the stairs each night for a year to lay my head on my pillow and call on God to do something that he was not going to do—heal my helpless sister.
Put me in a den of atheists. Put me with those who hate me. Put me in a crowd of those who hate God and my Lord, Jesus Christ. My faith will remain. But put me in a crowd of those who are all calling on their God to save them from doubt, pain, and depression and my faith will be in quick-sand with them. Why? Because I don’t know what to do.

Francis of Assisi used to sit with lepers and wash there wounds. He only looked for those Christians who were falling apart, inside and out. God called Francis to “Rebuild my church.” and where does he go? He goes to those who could not be built back.

The ministry of Rick Warren to his son was not unsuccessful. The night before, I am told, he was with Matthew. He was a devoted father. Even so, he will enter into a significant time of despair. Suicide is a death unlike any other. You will imagine the thought, look, and pain of the one who is finally finished. You will picture the tears in their eyes and see them begin to pull the trigger. Angie died with her legs crossed on a bed in a cold dark hotel room with Chuck Swindoll’s Day by Day open in front of her. My other sister now has that book. She keeps it guarded like a treasure. Why? Who knows? We don’t know how to process the pain and darkness of that moment so we leave it to a symbolic token that might represent her last thoughts or prayers. We do this as self-flagellation for penance for a task we could not bear.

I don’t know how Rick Warren and his wife (please don’t leave her and the rest of the family out) are going to handle this. They may do like I did and stay strong through many years for the sake of others. But at some point, subconsciously, the dam seems to break and you don’t know why (at least that is my testimony). Or, they may handle this like my mother with sleepless nights until the guilt and the pain eventually take her mind. Or they handle it like my dad with constant guilt.

The questions are always the same: What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? Once these are exasperated and find no rest, you have to find some other footing or remain completely adrift in the sea of your faith.

The anchoring conclusion for me, with regard to Angie, is not the conclusion of many. Yet, I don’t know where else to go, biblically. Who is at fault? God is. Not me. Not my mom. Not my dad. And not even Angie. For some reason, in this fallen world, God allowed the darkness to rule her life to such a degree that she left this world with tears and cries to a God who was not going to show in the way we all so desired and prayed. His ways are not our ways. He is the one who works all things after the council of his will (Eph. 1:11), including leaving countless people in their pain as they cry out to him for relief.

I would imagine it was the same with Matthew. I don’t suppose that God was a cheerleader in his pain, hoping that he would listen to the right advice or finally find the right pill. God took him violently. God took him darkly. And we have to accept this sometimes dark violent God as the one who loved him (and Angie) more than we can ever possibly imagine. If you can have that type of faith. . . if, by some miracle, you can drop that anchor quickly, you can continue your ministry in the hopes that you will join him one day.

I don’t know what kind of advice or hope to give to those who have lost someone who was outside of the faith. I am sorry.

To all of those like Matthew: I do not give you permission to die. Don’t mistake my understanding for permission. The darkness that overshadows the lives of the ones you leave is a terrible darkness that has no sun which can break its pain.

To Rick Warren and family: I am truly sorry for your loss. May Matthew rest from his pain, finally. May your pain be one day turned to joy. Until then, may the Francis of Assisis’ of this world break through the judgement that you feel from inside and from those outside. May you be able to forgive all. May the asphyxiation of hope that Matthew felt be relieved in the arms of Christ who loved you and gave himself up for you.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What a great touchdown

This absolutely brought tears to my eyes...

Full story here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

This is fascinating (marriage-related)

Worth every moment of your perusal...

Posted in its entirety from Slate.com by Julia Shaw 

These days, young married couples are an anomaly. In pop culture, they usually get married at a surprise wedding: Think Andy and April in Parks and Recreation or Jessa and Thomas-John (who’s not really young) in Girls. Before the bouquet toss, viewers were counting down to the divorce episode, probably because celebrities have taught us that it won’t last. Britney Spears’ first marriage was annulled within hours, and she racked up a second divorce before age 26. At age 22, Jessica Simpson scored a reality television show about her marriage to Nick Lachey: The couple divorced three seasons (er, years) later. Is it any wonder the world scoffed at Miley Cyrus’ plan for three weddings?
And pop culture tracks reality. Only 21 percent of millennials (those ages 18-29) are married, and the median age for marriage is the highest in generations: almost 27 for women and 29 for men. By comparison, 29 percent of Generation X, 42 percent of Boomers, and 54 percent of the Silent Generation (born 1928 through 1945) were married by that age, according to a 2010 Pew Research Survey.
According to Pew, 60 percent of unmarried men and women want to tie the knot. But they just aren’t in any hurry. Marriage these days signals that you’ve figured out how to be a grown-up. You’ve played the field, backpacked Europe, and held a bartending gig to supplement an unpaid internship. You’ve “arrived,” having finished school, settled into a career path, bought a condo, figured out who you are, and found your soul mate. The fairytale wedding is your gateway into adult life. But in my experience, this idea about marriage as the end of the road is pretty misguided and means couples are missing out on a lot of the fun.
I’m a married millennial. I walked down the aisle at 23. My husband, David, was 25. We hadn’t arrived. I had a job; he, a job offer and a year left in law school. But we couldn’t buy a house or even replace the car when it died a few months into our marriage. We lived in a small basement apartment, furnished with secondhand Ikea. We did not have Internet (checking email required a trip to the local coffee shop) or reliable heat.
Marriage wasn’t something we did after we’d grown up—it was how we have grown up and grown together. We’ve endured the hardships of typical millennials: job searches, job losses, family deaths, family conflict, financial fears, and career concerns. The stability, companionship, and intimacy of marriage enabled us to overcome our challenges and develop as individuals and a couple. We learned how to be strong for one another, to comfort, to counsel, and to share our joys and not just our problems.
In 2011, my husband’s law firm collapsed. In the weeks before that, he routinely worked until midnight, plus weekends, for three different partners, none of whom seemed to be heading to the same firm. Would all this work be for nothing? Would the partners he worked for find new firms? Would he be able to come too? Would he find another legal job considering the anemic legal market? To support him through this difficult time, I would stay up late to welcome him home, no matter how late. I’d practice interviews with him. We inventoried the family budget: no more fancy coffee, dining out, Zipcars, or shopping—just student loans, rent, and food. When David had job offers with other law firms, he called me to confer.
For every troubling, vexing, perplexing question or decision, we offered each other advice, talked through the argument, and steered each other through the periods of self-doubt. When I was ready to talk myself out of applying to fellowships, he persuaded me to go for it. He was my practice audience for my first radio interview, television interview, and every major presentation. His good judgment makes it easy to share my burdens with him—and my good fortunes, too. Because your spouse knows the extent of your troubles, your successes become that much more meaningful. While I may not tell my close friends or my parents the details of a new opportunity, I don’t need to hold back with David. Being married young has afforded us unmatched companionship and support in any circumstance.
Nowadays, one’s 20s are reserved for finishing college, pursuing graduate degrees, and establishing careers. Relationships are, at best, not as interesting as a prestigious job opening at Cravath or a scholarship at Yale. At worst, relationships distract from these opportunities.
I started out thinking this way, too. When I was entering college, my philosophy was “men die, but your college degree is forever.” I imagined myself an independent, spirited sort of woman. I wrote off the girls I knew from high school in Texas who didn’t finish college or who selected their universities based on their boyfriends’ plans. Getting a “ring by spring” was nice, I supposed, but it wasn’t a grand achievement. Getting a 4.0—now we were talking.
I wasn’t anti-marriage. I thought I would get married, but it would be later after a flurry of accomplishments. When David and I started dating, his senior year and my sophomore year, I worried he would derail my education. He definitely had all the qualities I wanted in a man: intelligence, ambition, good character, plus he was a true gentleman. Still, I asked him, “You’re not asking me out because you want to get married by graduation?” This was a Christian college we went to, so my question was not out of bounds. I still regret those words. Looking back, my artificial, rigid timeline of success almost derailed my real happiness.
What I did not realize was how thoroughly marriage would jump-start our independence. On paper, our unmarried peers looked more carefree. But many of them also relied on their parents to supplement their income, drove home for long weekends and holidays, or stayed on their parents’ health insurance and cellphone plans (even though they had decent jobs!). I put David on my health insurance. We bought our own family cellphone plan and Netflix account. When we visited our parents once a year, we paid for the plane tickets and still did our own laundry. We loved our parents and siblings, but marriage made us realize that we were now a separate family unit.  
Months into our marriage, my grandfather died. I was crushed. The funeral was stressful. I wasn’t able to explain to David the backstories on everyone in my extended family: He couldn’t remember who was married to whom and certainly couldn’t tell my identical twin uncles apart. Still, David comforted me, navigated the family drama, grounded me, and made me thankful for the promise of a long marriage.
Sure, being married young entailed sacrifices. We had to be particularly careful about money. David took the bar exam shortly before our first wedding anniversary. This should have warranted a lavish vacation: Most new lawyers celebrate finishing the bar exam with a trip to Europe or Asia. That was too expensive. Instead, we pricelined a hotel five subway stops away and had dinner at Pizzeria Paradiso. For the anniversary portion of the celebration, we special-ordered a cake from our favorite bakery and recounted our favorite memories from our first year of marriage.
Sometimes people delay marriage because they are searching for the perfect soul mate. But that view has it backward. Your spouse becomes your soul mate after you've made those vows to each other in front of God and the people who matter to you. You don’t marry someone because he’s your soul mate; he becomes your soul mate because you married him.
Marriage doesn’t require a big bank account, a dazzling resumé, or a televised wedding—it requires maturity, commitment, and a desire to grow up together. My husband and I married young. We don't have a fairytale marriage or a storybook ending because our story continues. Going forward, we anticipate new challenges and joys: children, new jobs, new hobbies, new cities, family weddings, and family funerals. There will be things we can’t predict. But one thing is for certain: We are committed to each other and we will grow through them. We don't have the details of the later chapters, but we know who the two main characters are.