They held hands.
In my young eyes, they were an “older couple,” at least in their forties, with teenagers in their house, and as they walked through the mall, they held hands.
It seemed odd to me. Wasn’t hand holding reserved for the young, the passionate, for people in love?
At the altar . . .
Time stood still whenever our pastor and his wife decided to close the service with their signature song. Seeing them come together arm in arm and hearing the piano play the introduction to “He Touched Me,” perked me up immediately. It wasn’t their singing that made it magical, although they weren’t bad singers, but it was the way they made me feel. You could see sincere appreciation, respect, and love float around them.
Could my pastor, a man who only wore polyester pants, be in love with his wife?!
In the pew . . .
Couples in my boyfriend’s church sat together, not with their kids between them, but next to each other, the kids flanking them. Men put their arms around their wives and pulled them close. In church! Husbands opened doors and wouldn’t allow their spouses to move chairs or carry the carseat, like their wives were delicate, precious, something to be protected. Women referred to their husbands as “my man” and unashamedly ran their hands up and down their mate’s arm while finishing conversations, as if telling their patient husbands they could never forget them and would be finished soon.
At the table . . .
The woman insisted on sitting by her husband at the table. They’d been married forever. Wasn’t she secure in his commitment yet? As he prayed for the meal, he gently enveloped his wife’s hand in his. It was a simple gesture really, lasting less than a minute, but it took my breath away. In the warmth of the moment, I realized no one was looking for assurance. They simply preferred each other.
They stirred me, these couples with decades together, still touching, still connecting, still in love. They were truly together and liked it that way. They created within my young heart a yearning for that kind of tenderness. They showed me marriage doesn’t have to be routine or just something people do. Loving feelings can last past the honeymoon. True love can survive childrearing and house payments and illness and disagreements.
The way they reached for each other told me so.
I witnessed genuine regard and healthy marriages, and it impacted my expectations for my own. I saw what marriage could be—beauty, strength, endurance, and comfort.
More importantly, these public displays of affection encouraged me to find the reason behind their satisfaction. What made them happy? Had they found their “soul mate?” Were they especially compatible? Were their lives problem-free? Their days were not filled with roses and chocolates and rainbows and butterflies, but there was something binding them in an unusual way.
When I looked close enough, I found a common denominator.
The glue was Jesus.
When I watched in wonder as my pastor and his wife sang, I thought, “If that’s what God does for a marriage, I’m in.” Their example, and the beautiful scenes painted by many other married couples, unaware of my peering eyes, pointed me to Jesus.
This is the beauty of holy matrimony. God has given couples the potential to display His glory, to be the representation of Christ and His Bride, the Church.
We point others to God when we love our spouses well.
What kind of wonderful, brilliant design is that? Could there be an easier way to witness to the world?
My gratitude overflows for those who showed me love can be beautiful and binding, satisfying and sweet, who weren’t afraid to let others know how they felt about their mate. They showed me a picture of love I couldn’t ignore.
They showed me Jesus.
Have you known a couple who exuded the love of Christ?