What makes us cry at the sight of a proposal or tear up during the exchange of vows at a wedding? What is it about love that speaks to our soul? The pure sacrificial nature of marriage is something that goes against our very nature. We’re born with an instinct to survive and to watch out for our own well-being even if it’s at the expense of others. And we fight this instinct our whole life. Dating and courtship involve getting to know the other person and finding in oneself a deep concern for the well-being of the other person.
Fighting the instinct that wants everything to be about yourself to the point where you consider the other person in everything–this is the beginning of a true relationship. Suddenly the instinct becomes flipped on its head. The instinct which once led you to look out for yourself at all costs has been replaced with caring for another person, even if it costs, to the point of self sacrifice. The pinnacle of this sacrifice culminates at the exchange of vows during the wedding.
This first sign of self sacrifice is shown when the man gets down on one knee to propose marriage to his love. This gesture is a physical manifestation of putting himself at the feet of his soon-to-be bride. He is preparing himself to serve her for the rest of his life. The woman makes this self-sacrificing gesture when she walks down the aisle on her wedding day. Her trip down the aisle, led by her father, is a journey to serve, to go where she has not been, to leave what she has known her whole life and place her trust and confidence in her love.
Recently I heard the song “All of Me” by John Legend. Listening to the lyrics, I couldn’t help but think of the Theology of the Body. The essence of love is not that we get what we want, but that we give– even what we do not want. We give, we serve, we sacrifice. We know our spouse’s flaws and weaknesses and accept them. The lyrics that most struck me were:
My head’s underwater, but I’m breathing fine
You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind
Cause all of me loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you…
Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you
Instead of singing about using our partner, Legend sings about loving everything about this person. Truly investing in them with our whole being and receiving everything they are–especially their perfect imperfections. A refreshing song about the sacrificial nature of love and marriage.