In desperation and youth Linda and I chose to get married 2 days before Christmas in 1995. We were so very young. I finished my final, final exam that Thursday for a Biblical Criticism class. I passed the class . . . Barely.
Over the course of 20 years we have had our share of ups and downs. We have given each other the silent treatment, we have raised our voices at each other, we have misunderstood each other a couple of times, and we have continued to hold onto our vows. To say that we are best friends is an understatement. Linda represents the only life-long covenant relationship that I have. My kids will move away. My friends move for jobs or fall away with the busyness of life.
On that icy December day in 1995, we said to the death. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that she meant it! In our relationship there is a sense that we both know we do not deserve this level of devotion. And equally we both honestly admit that we do not have that kind of tenacious devotion in ourselves. I am eager to proclaim that our vows currently stand because of the grace of God in our lives.
A Pastor’s marriage is a strange animal. We have a tension in our lives of being a model marriage, being model individuals, raising really ‘good’ children, being responsible with our resources, being available and on call, while knowing the reality of our own sins, sinful tendencies and idiosyncrasies. The temptation is to write a blog about our ‘perfect marriage’ and pretend that I somehow got “Lost in Her Eyes” and have been drowning in “the Glory of Love”. But as long as we are talking about cheesy 80’s songs, maybe I should mention “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Bad Medicine”. Bon Jovi got a couple of things right. My feelings of love haven’t held this marriage together. Linda’s feelings of love haven’t held this marriage together.
A covenant before God has kept us going. We are just fortunate to have found someone else who believes that our marriage is a part of something bigger than either of us or even both of us. We have the conviction that God has brought us together to reflect Christ and His Church. I am to care for, to sacrifice for, and to gently lead my wife. She is to follow, respect and graciously assist me.
I am glad that a feeling of love is still alive in us after 20 years of marriage. But the feeling has been as inconsistent as our internet service now that we moved out into the country. If our marriage was dependent upon feelings, we may very well have been done somewhere between years 1-5.
I am so glad for a wife that sees our relationship in terms of covenant and NOT merely as a function of some chincy loving “feelings”. But if we use the more robust definition of love which sounds more like the words “faithful commitment” then we are getting closer to what has held us together. I love Linda! And Linda loves me! I know because we are still married. We are still working toward understanding each other. We are still arguing. And we are still committed to those same vows . . . Till death.
I consider myself crazy blessed to have been given this gift of Linda Filcek. She “completes me” and you can fill in whatever other cheesy phrases you want here. I am glad she hasn’t given up on me and I am glad I haven’t given up on her. There have been dark days when I know we have both wondered why we should continue. Without the tough times, I do not think the symbol works as well. Staying together despite hardship is the right model of Christ and His church.
I am thankful to God for 20 years of living the symbolism of Christ and His church. Thank you Linda! But more importantly, Thank You Lord, for 20 years of life together as Your symbol!