On the day you read this in the Times-Gazette it will be 42 years and five days after my first date with a beautiful girl named Kathy. The way she tells it, it wasn’t a date – it was instead a church youth group event at Hershey Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The way I tell it, it was the best opportunity to get close to someone with whom I wanted to spend my life.
I was terrified of amusement parks with their roller coasters (Hershey Park had a new one in 1978 called the SooperDooperLooper) and other herky-jerky contraptions that displace one’s innards. But Kathy loved them and I was willing to deal with my fears.
I spent the day with her and I got the feeling, much to my delight, she might be a bit interested in me. As the day drew to a close we took a ride on the one attraction I could appreciate – THE KISSING TOWER. When the car reaches the top of the tower which is 250 feet above the park, it makes one, very slow, revolution giving the riders a view of Central PA that is breathtaking. IF they are watching. I was kissing Kathy. I had asked her if she kissed on first dates and she said she didn’t but apparently made an exception that time, which turned out to be her last first date since she married me two years later. She has been my dear wife for 40 years and counting.
What is my point, now that I’ve taken over half of this column to describe one of the best days of my life? It’s this: On that day I HAD NO IDEA WHAT IT TAKES TO REALLY LOVE A WIFE THE WAY A HUSBAND SHOULD! Today, because Kathy is patient with me, I know marriage takes the love that never fails described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (look it up and read it when you get a chance), and the cherishing described in Ephesians 5:21-33 (read it in the Message paraphrase). So it is with conviction and experience I can honestly say something like, “Marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God,” as I begin a wedding ceremony.
In other words, marriage takes work! Love is an action word much more than it’s a feeling and that is why a couple knows that their relationship can never be taken for granted. Saint Paul wrote “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10 (ESV). And while he’s referring to living and serving with our sisters and brothers in Christ, the concept is essential for a man and a woman in marriage. They must outdo one another in loving, honoring and serving one another. Mind you, it’s not a competition, but in a labor of love and cooperation. That is what cherishing is and after 42 years I’m still learning, and, as the saying goes, practice makes perfect.
— The Rev. Keith A. Tyson is the pastor at Ashland Brethren in Christ Church.