On the radio program, This American Life (you can click to hear the actual story), there is an amusing tale of a woman who in a moment of romantic despair, decided to write her name “Esther” on a dollar bill with the idea that if some guy should give it back to her, it would be a cosmic sign that he was the one she was destined to marry. A few weeks afterwards it actually happened. She was dating a guy, Paul Grachan, who by the most remarkable coincidence, happened to find Esther’s dollar while receiving change at a deli and, not knowing the story behind it, thought it would be fun to present it to Esther in a frame.
Years later, they were married. And the dollar has been the source of much commitment and strength in the relationship. As Esther explained it, whenever she and Paul experienced difficulties, whereas she might have ordinarily just broken up with him, she would go into her room, take out the framed dollar, and remind herself, “how can I break up with him if he’s the one who gave me this dollar? How can I walk out on my cosmic soul-mate?”
There is something so very charming about this story. We can all relate to Esther wanting certainty about who to marry. But that certainty does not come from some cosmic sign but it comes from a promise – the marriage vow. How do I know this person is the one God intended for me to marry? In truth, we don’t know until we’ve made the promise on our wedding day. And from that day forward, we know this is the one we’re supposed to be with. So that whenever we experience marriage difficulties (and they will happen), whenever we encounter someone else who seems more intriguing, whenever the love feelings ebb and flow, we can go back to the promise and remind ourselves, “how can I leave him if he’s the one I’ve promised myself to?” Marriage is ultimately not based on romantic feelings or situational happiness. Marriage is based on a covenant – a life-long promise to be faithful and true.
You can listen to the two-part Sunday school series on Marriage this blog post is based on here.