I flew in (back to Houston) last night from a week in New York at what amounted to a giant week-long slumber party, preparing for Blakey's wedding. It was honestly one of the most memorable weeks of my entire life. I'll share some memories and stories at a later date, once my brain wakes up and starts processing again. I'm running on very little sleep and spent my last night OUT IN THE CITY UNTIL 5AM with a crew of groomsmen and sword bearers who begged me to go out with them after the reception so they could show me around. I gladly obliged, and it was just such a blast. But, that's a story for another post.
The night before the wedding, I wrote a toast and asked Jaym (maid of honor; Blake's sister) if there'd be time for me to share it. She said yes, of course, and so I did.
Without further ado, to my beloved Blake and her beloved Michael:
So we pulled each other through high school and called ourselves the Dynamic Duo because we had this little secret between us that, together, we could accomplish just about anything…and get it done more quickly and efficiently than just about anyone else. At sixteen we teamed up to co-chair an event that raised over $30,000, and we pretty much thought we were the coolest things on the block in our blue dresses and horribly tacky fake eyelashes and light blue eye shadow. The curtains opened to Carrie Underwood singing a song about fairytales, as we twirled each other on our way to the podium, where we spent 3 hours telling REALLY BAD JOKES between acts. For the first hour, the audience supplied us with pity laughs, and then we took it too far with a horribly not-funny pickle joke and there wasn’t even a single giggle from the crowd. You could have heard a pin drop in that auditorium.
A few days later we sat cross-legged on your living room floor covered in papers as we assembled a binder to tell “next year’s people” all the best ways to run the event. That night, your mom asked us if we needed anything and I told her I’d like a vodka with cranberry, please, and she said “WHAT?!?” and we all busted up laughing. I still ask her for one every time we’re together, and I’ve still never had one, but I tell everyone it’s my favorite drink. No one has any clue where that even came from.
Senior year we did a bit better. We organized the blowing up of a thousand helium balloons for our small-town senior homecoming float, and then you curled my hair and we wore almost matching bubblegum pink dresses. I set you up with my boyfriend’s cousin, who ended up being a TOTAL DUD, but you were a TOTAL STUD and stuck the whole night out with us just so I’d have a friend. You’ve always been the best true blue friend around.
You buttoned my dress for senior prom, and you were a prom princess. I wanted to be green with envy but I just couldn’t possibly be because you were so gosh dang beautiful and deserved that sash more than any girl in the entire school.
We rafted and camped and rappelled and jumped off bridges together. We spent days and days at the lake, our hair blowing in the wind as we tanned in the back of a ski boat. I’d show up at your house without knocking and change clothes in your driveway, and your mom would always give me heck for all that stuff…and she still does.
The summer after senior year I went through a heart-wrenching breakup and called you to ask if I could book a next-week ticket to Vermont. You told me you had no beds or furniture in the house but YES I COULD COME, and so I spent half my summer earnings and bought a plane ticket. We stayed in our pajamas for a week and slept on air mattresses and ate an entire family-sized bag of Captain Crunch with berries and watched two whole seasons of Gilmore Girls and gave ourselves face masks with cucumbers on our eyes. It was a true blue friend thing. You’re so good at those. The next year, I sent you a box of captain crunch and a loaf of zucchini bread for your birthday because I couldn’t think of a more appropriate gift to send.
We backpacked Europe together and have pictures in Hallstatt, Austria, Alps towering in the background; in Cadiz, doing cartwheels on the beach; at a Belgian flea market with overloaded backpacks buckled around our waists; in front of the Eiffel tower as it shimmered on the hour; eating banana-nutella crepes at a Parisian market; holding a cheap bottle of white wine—that one comes with a good story—and one on a train holding tickets to some foreign country.
We almost got stuck in a train station during street riots in Madrid, but you said “I think I know a lady who might be our ticket out,” and you called Katherine and she drove all night through the mountains and we hopped on the last train out of the station and got off on a stop in the middle of nowhere and THERE SHE WAS to rescue us. She whisked us over the mountains and into France and gave us a room and a bed in her house and treated us like queens. You and I nearly killed each other when we were stuck in that station with seemingly no way out of the country, but we didn’t, and that’s a good thing because Michael needed you to come home!
When we were in Cadiz, you started skyping this “cute guy” you had met just before flying to meet me. You told me you met him at McDonald’s and thought you might marry him. We were eighteen with backpacks on and French pastries in hand, walking down the Champs d’ Elysses a few days later, and I rolled my eyes and told you “yeah, whatever, okay” but you told me you were serious, and I told you it was a fun thought. Guess I should have believed you then! Blake Marie, you’ve always been true to your word—and Michael got the best end of that character quality this time around.
It’s been just over three years since that day, and your sailor is back from sea and just took you to be his wife for as long as you both shall live. Michael, thank you for loving this girl we love so well. Blake—you picked a good one. I cannot wait to watch your together-life unfold, and I thank God you’re my best Duo friend. I love you!
To Blake and Michael, Forever Karas: CHEERS!
So I was talking about marriage today with a dear friend and her husband, and at one point long into the conversation her husband said something like this:
"I think it's possible that we're all too caught up in the question of 'who am I supposed to marry?' It consumes the thoughts, discussions, and prayers of so many of us Christians between the ages of 18 and 20-whatever, and I sometimes wonder if there are more important Kingdom Things with which to concern ourselves. I realize marriage is a BIG DEAL and a BIG COMMITMENT, but sometimes I think we make too big a deal of the 'Choosing the One' part of it.
Then one time I was discussing this issue with my best friend's pastor, who leads and disciples a lot of young(ish) Christian men, and he said something similar. He said that to decide on whether or not to marry a certain woman, a Christian man must ask himself these three questions about her:
I'm reducing this conversation to a couple short paragraphs when in reality it spanned a few hours, so I'm leaving out a lot of nuance. But I wanted to introduce those two viewpoints as a segue into some thoughts of my own. They help put into context all I'm going to type next.
I spent the day at their house mostly studying but also thinking about the conversation from this morning. His wife (my dear friend) and I were talking some hours later, and she asked me what I thought about those three questions. As we discussed, I realized I take issue with them (for many vast and varied reasons). She suggested we come up with a list of our own, together, because the question of "how do I know if I should marry this guy?" is important, and we both think it's good to have some sort of tried & true thought process behind our vacillations. The reality is that there's got to be a way for a woman to "filter through" the men asking her out to dinner. I don't mean for that to sound harsh or in any way to undermine the Biblical (and right) concept of submission and husband-as-family-leader. But I do mean it seriously. When a woman is being asked out for coffee on more occasions than she has spaces in her planner and getting "the look" from a handful of guys who haven't even asked yet, she cannot feasibly say YES, YES, and YES to every one of them. That game is exhausting and heart-wrenching and more times than not, fruitless. (News Flash that isn't news at all: the Dating Game is exhausting and heart-wrenching...) She has to have some foundation that helps her decide upon the sort of man to whom she'll say "YES, coffee sounds great; YES let's talk tonight; YES please take me to dinner; YES I want to get to know you."
And, when she meets a guy with whom she can envision marriage, it's important she has an objective SOMETHING by which to evaluate the situation and potential relationship. "Love is blind," they say. And they're right. We get all caught up and infatuated and gooogly-eyed, and we sometimes forget to add in a little logic. I think the butterflies and the heart-eyes are all good and important--I really do. I think the "falling" element of "falling in love" is precious and something to be enjoyed. But all of THAT is only healthy (and fruitful) if the Big Questions have already been discerned, asked, and answered correctly.
As we processed and discussed, we boiled it down to ten questions. Then we thought "man, that's a lot. Can we reduce the list?" So, we did. In the end, I think all the Things we were attempting to get at can be answered by four main questions. But since you're probably curious, I'll tack the "extra 6" onto the end of the list.
1) Does he love Jesus?
5) Do we see eye-to-eye on Fundamental Things. ***
I truly believe the last six are both embedded in and follow naturally from the first four, but I wanted to include them because they are *very* important. Sometimes it's nice to have the "what, then, should follow...?" clearly spelled out.
It can all seem so confusing, so Big, so daunting, can't it? Especially at this age. Most of us are joyful in singleness yet yearn for marriage. We want to be mamas and daddies. We want to settle down and experience stability. We want to know the man/woman with whom we will Do Life and Kingdom Work. And so, I think these questions are at least helpful. They're helping me stay on track and not get ahead of myself...or ahead of God. They're helping me really Listen to the Holy Spirit, who guides my life...our lives.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and convictions. Really, I would. The topics of dating/relationships/marriage are some that I've pondered/prayed about/wrestled with more than any others. I don't mean to make it all complicated. I really don't. In fact, I wish it was simpler than I've experienced it to be. I wish I could say: "the answer to each of those four questions is YES, so let's be done with all the Dating Games we've played our whole lives and just get married already!" But the reality is that it takes two to tango, yeah? So, naturally, it's going to be slightly more complex than me saying YES. First, he's got to ask. And until that day, Lord Jesus give me patience. :)
Addendum: Thoughts from Friends
First, I think it’s important to distinguish two issues. The first is: How do I tell whether I should say yes to someone who wants to go on a date with me?
I really appreciated all Chris had to say. I think I'd even add a 4th question onto his addendum. Something like:
4. Is there CHEMISTRY?
(A guy/girl can "check all the boxes," but if there’s not that level of spark, it ain’t gonna work (in most cases). I must admit that when deciding whether to say yes to a first date, chemistry is one of the two things I use to make my decision. The first is whether or not he claims to be a Christian. The second is whether or not I’m actually attracted to him. The third would be whether I can feasibly fit a date into my stupid school schedule ;) )
I think that we totally spend too much time thinking about marriage and the future when we are exhorted to not worry about tomorrow. It is a natural and beautiful thing though so it is not wrong or evil. But I think "a woman's heart should be so lost in God that a man must seek him to find her."
Yep, I love that quote too. The one about running toward God and looking to see who is running with us. There's something spectacular (I presume) about seeing your calling align with another's calling and then TEAMING TOGETHER for the sake of the Kingdom. And LIKING EACH OTHER while doing so. Woah, how awesome.
hey, i'm jordan.
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