Five is around the age where birthdays were the most important. You were old enough to realize what was going on and young enough that they were the event of the year. It was your special day, and you got cake. Hey, maybe even a party dress.
I’m taking some time right now to visit the burgeoning land of Starbucks and read over an email Jill sent me. (Jill was my youth pastor in high school, presently my good friend, and the person officiating (Tweet!) the ceremony.) It’s called “Service of Christian Marriage With Options” and lists choices for traditional declarations of intent, relinquishments, vows, and exchanges of rings. In true five-year-old-birthday-party fashion, I’ve been paying a lot more attention to the hats and kazoos of the reception than to the important parts.
I’ve been thinking about what you can honestly promise someone in a situation like this. Promise too little and you absolutely depress the pants off people. Promise too much and I’ll be retching on the altar (or in my seat if it’s you getting married).
Kevyn Stokes, reputable source and fellow Westovarian, told me that Whitworth professor Rob Clark said the following about marriage:
You can’t promise that you’re going to like ‘em. You can’t control that. You can only promise things that are in your control, and the only thing you can control is that you’ll be there.
“I’m not usually that impressed by him, but I was like, ‘Way to go, Rob.’” Kevyn said in reflection.
I promise I won’t make you go to the dentist’s by yourself, and I will commiserate when you get speeding tickets. I’ll be present with you whether I like it or not.
Each of the options in Jill’s email mentions love. There’s that problem of love. Annie said to me one day in a fit of epiphany, “I don’t even really know what love is.” Pop-Christian culture wants to simplify love—love is a choice—which stinks of a homosexuality rebuttal to me. Hallmark wants to make some bucks off it. Regular pop culture wants to mystify romantic love and elevate it to the status of destiny and life purpose. And biology traces it to our hormones and our sense of smell.
And I can’t help thinking getting married will feel like turning five. I’ll wake up on my birthday being five-years old, but I’ll feel a lot like I did when I was four years old. Not any different, actually. I won’t feel married (kabloomers). I won’t be any less selfish or any more loving than I am now. I won’t be any better at sharing my living space or being helpful. And I’ll still be just as pointlessly competitive. But I hope by the time I turn six years old or twenty years old, I’ll have figured out how to be five.