Last February, I posted a short photo story of the vow renewal we had on our 9th wedding anniversary, August 16, 2012. I love looking back at those images. It was such a beautiful day celebrating the grace of God and the hard work that goes into mending a completely broken marriage.
We asked our mentors, Elmer and Lynn, to officiate the ceremony. They are some of the wisest and most caring people I know. They walked through the darkest parts of our brokenness with us, held our hands, and helped lead us back into the light. We are so blessed to have them in our lives.
We began our ceremony with the kids walking me down the aisle to the song “I Want You to be my Love” by Over the Rhine. This song has been “our song” for a long time and means so much more to us now. Elmer led us in prayer and Robert led us in singing “Be Thou My Vision.” We sang this hymn in our wedding in 2003. It’s message is something we strive for, but unfortunately we stray from it quite often. Following our own paths, doing things our own way, not seeking the Lord or wise counsel caused us and our marriage to fall apart. Our vow renewal wasn’t just a recommitment to each other, it was also a recommitment to God and his plan for our family.
Lynn read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, which is such a beautiful depiction of true love. Love is why we fought so hard to help our marriage survive, and it’s the unbending, unwavering love of God that pulled us through.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
We said new vows for our recommitment, and we read two passages of scripture that mean so much to us:
Robert: On our wedding day, we pledged to love each other for better or worse. This past year has tested those vows, but by the grace of God, our love for one another has prevailed.
Cheyenne: We will wipe clean the old canvases of our lives and let God, with His amazing artistic talent, fill them with new colors, harmony and beauty. Today, we are on the other side of the mountain.
Robert: We evolve and transform together. We endure together, laugh and cry together. We raise a beautiful family together.
Both: I am so ecstatic that I get to continue life’s journey by your side. I believe in this marriage more than ever, and I reaffirm my love and commitment to you. I come here today to make a fresh start, to renew our vows of love, honor, and fidelity, and to reaffirm my love for you.
Robert: ‘Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come
For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
And come away!’
Song of Songs 2:10,11,13 ESV
Cheyenne: For where you go I will go,
Where you lodge I will lodge.
Your people shall be my people,
And your God my God.
Ruth 1:16-17 ESV
The passage from Song of Solomon describes the winter and rain God helped us survive. The passage from Ruth was read in our wedding, and I thought it was fitting to say it again, to verbally accept Robert as the spiritual leader in our home after all we’ve been through.
We bought each other new rings to symbolize a fresh start. I still wear my engagement band, but now I put it on my right hand. Every time I look at my new ring on my left hand, I’m reminded of what we’ve come through and what we’re fighting for.
We found a beautiful description of what wedding rings symbolize on a vow renewal website (I don’t remember which one). Elmer read it when he handed us our rings.
Elmer: These rings have a beginning. Rock is dug up from the earth. Metal is liquefied in a furnace at a thousand degrees, then molded, cooled, and painstakingly polished. Something beautiful is made from raw elements. Love is like that. It’s hard work. It comes from humble beginnings, made by imperfect beings. It’s the process of making something beautiful where there was once nothing at all. When you look at these rings, remember your commitment to love each other.
As we put the rings on each other’s finger, we said, “This ring is my promise to accept your imperfections and recognize your beauty.”
This was such an important promise for us to make. The previous year, we learned so many ugly things about one another. But on our 9th anniversary, we promised to accept the ugly and search for and focus on the beauty.
We took communion to start our new commitment by focusing on Christ and his love, mercy, and grace. Without him our marriage would not have lasted. It’s by his grace, love, and forgiveness that we were able to survive.
Our friend, Kristen, led us all in singing the hymn “Tis So Sweet.” We chose this hymn to signify how our marriage was truly saved by trusting in the Lord and relying on his love and grace to sustain us.
Elmer led us in another prayer, we kissed, and walked out as a family to another Over the Rhine song, “I’m on a Roll.” I loved involving the kids in this because they suffered right along with us. They experienced the sadness and hurt by watching us experience it. Our home wasn’t the happiest place to be even when we tried to keep our emotional stuff away from the kids. They saw me cry and unfortunately, they also felt the brunt of some of my anger leading up to and during our separation. Walking back down the aisle as a happy and whole family brought so much joy!
We finished the evening by celebrating with good food and great drinks – our favorite way to celebrate. Ha! It was so fun to laugh and enjoy our friends’ company after such a precious ceremony. We are so blessed to be surrounded with such encouraging family and friends. They listened to us when we were angry, sad, hurt, and broken. These men and women let us vent to them and never judged us. They cared for our children when we had nothing left to give. They prayed with us, challenged us, cried with us and on that summer evening, they celebrated with us.