The most profound wedding march I’ve ever had the honor of witnessing was that of my sister-in-law in Pittsburgh. She walked down the aisle, adorning her white gown, steps in rhythm to the beautiful albeit obscure song selection, The Vow by Derek Webb:
“I can’t see the day after tomorrow.
I don’t know the future even still.
I don’t promise ’cause I know I’ll always love you.
I make my vow to guarantee I will.”
I think that we often confuse wedding vows with hopes. “I intend to always feel this wonderful way about you.” The problem with the “feeling” of love is that it falters. Feelings are temperamental, conditional, reactionary.
Vowing “I promise to love you” is a promise to put forth the often-taxing, often-hurtful, often-joyous effort to daily choose your partner over and over. To continually show them love despite their merits in your eyes. It’s acknowledging that “I may not always feel warm, fuzzy, butterfly feelings for you; but I will act in love toward you no matter what.” This is covenantal, unconditional love.
Viewing vows as guarantees rather than well-wishes is such a powerful weapon in the face of a world where only 50% of marriages make it. If we rely on love as a feeling, we risk utter instability in the midst of life’s big storms, which will inevitably arise. When love is a feeling, it is fleeting. When love is a covenant, it is unbreakable.
My sister-in-law’s wedding march encapsulated the very essence of covenantal love. I don’t know that I’ll always feel love for you, but I will Love you anyway. It spoke so candidly to our feebleness as humans; destined to fail in carrying out such hefty promises when left to our own devices and our need for reliance on a higher power to come through on our word. Unlike most light and airy wedding marches it carries a somber weight, conveying the very power and importance of this monumental event.
I’d invite you to give a listen and let it sink in and consider as you write your vows:
Love is not a feeling. Love is a Promise.