These Hands: How I Learned What Love Is

When we got married back in 2010, it was a pretty traditional wedding.

Church. Communion. Message. Reception.

There is nothing wrong with traditional. Ours was memorable, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. However, one aspect of the ceremony that has stood out to me over the years was what our minister did before our vows. Even though we had exchanged rings and were about to exchange vows, he interjected (with our blessing) something amazing.

He reminded us that love is lasting, and that our wedding was only the start.

Seems pretty typical, but it’s how he did it that was special.

These Hands

Placing my hands palm up in my wife’s (and vice versa), he said:

“Look at these hands. These are the hands that will love you. They will work long hours to keep you comfortable. They will callous and weather providing for you. They will stroke your face when times are tough, and embrace you when joy overflows. They will pick up your children and hold them tight. They will grow old loving you.”

It really struck me when it was my turn to look at my wife’s hands in mine. Hearing those words, I imagined the years and saw what love truly was… selflessly caring for someone else, even above your own comfort. Looking past the flash of the ceremony and excitement of the honeymoon, I realized that love wasn’t a feeling. It wasn’t a ring, or a ceremony. It was a lifetime decision that we make every single day… a decision to value her and  put her needs above my own.  Even as time passed and the ‘feeling’ waned, love continued because it wasn’t based on an emotion… it was based on my decision to love her no matter what.

What an amazing gift our minister gave us! Life isn’t always easy, but regardless every day i wake up and say to myself ‘Today, I choose to love my beautiful wife, and to value her more highly than I value myself.”  Because that’s what love is.