By Charlie Boudreaux
January 2016 is the beginning of a new year, and a time of remembrance with an opportunity for renewal.
My wife, Nita, has had the joy of attending several prayer showers hosted by our friend and mentor, Martha Stockstill, for young brides-to-be during their engagement period. At these showers, Martha presents to the young lady the gift of a beautifully carved wooden treasure chest in which she has placed simple everyday items and explains the symbolic reminder each item represents along with Bible verses. She encourages the young bride-to-be to open the chest periodically throughout her years of marriage as a tool for remembrance, thus offering an ongoing opportunity for renewal!
In Scripture God instructed His children to remember important things—His provisions in the wilderness, His commandments, Jesus’ death and resurrection, etc. God had his people to set aside certain days and dates to be observed in remembrance, and at times symbols were designated to help in the task of remembering. The details of important life events such as our salvation, baptism, wedding day, holding our newborn for the first time, etc. can become hazy, and the wonder and awe we experienced can fade over time. God who created us and knows us knew we would need reminders to keep these treasures alive in our hearts and minds.
I will share just a couple of traditions that most of our readers will find common and which serve as great reminders.
First, the wedding band has long been a tradition for remembering wedding vows; the ring symbolizes a covenant marriage. Its unending circle symbolizes a forever or unending love, and its untarnished gold represents the lasting quality of love. “I give you this ring as a symbol of my commitment and a seal of my pledge of constant and abiding love and faithfulness as we enter into a covenant marriage for God’s glory.”
Another common tradition is the celebration of the wedding anniversary—a tradition for remembering our first love—a calendared date for celebrating our covenant love in special ways for our spouse.
I have fun memories of Nita and I celebrating with our dear friends, Mary Ruth and Jay Wolfe, their first wedding anniversary. We both lived on the Baptist seminary campus in New Orleans at the time. Jay and Mary Ruth had a small fridge with a very small freezer space that they had used for the entire year to store the top layer of their wedding cake. The celebration was to be culminated with the cutting and sharing of the precious cake they had set aside and saved for that special occasion. As we waited with great anticipation of a tasty slice of cake that would melt in our mouths, Mary Ruth cut into the cake, only to discover it was just an iced piece of Styrofoam!! We all had to sit on the floor we were laughing so hard. That particular memory has not faded over time!
Let me encourage you in 2016 to be intentional in creating times of remembrance to keep the fire burning in your marriage and to keep your marriage focused on Him and His good plan. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Schedule regular dates and continue to do things you enjoyed during your courtship. During my courtship with Nita our dates were simple with minimal cost because we had very limited funds. Those are still the things we enjoy doing the most today—going to a park and riding on a see-saw, walking hand in hand in the neighborhood as we talk, going on a picnic, etc.
- During your quiet time take a few moments weekly to look at your wedding band and reflect on its symbolism, remembering the special moments in which your spouse slipped it onto your finger.
- Make your own treasure chest and put in it items from Martha’s list above as well as other items that remind you of your love for one another. Keep your collection growing! Take time together to review its contents once a month.
- If your wedding ceremony was recorded, watch or listen to it each year on your anniversary date.
- Renew your vows on a timetable determined by the two of you.
These times of remembrance in 2016 are to help us not take each other’s love for granted—to help us renew the wonder and awe of our first love as we exclaim “Thank You God!” And to help us in our marriages be a reflection to others of His love for His bride, the church!
Charlie Boudreaux is the Congregational Care and Counseling Pastor at First Baptist Church Jackson and Director of Summit Counseling. He can be reached at 601.949.1949 or firstname.lastname@example.org.