What Really Matters

After a number of years in any job, it is quite normal to have developed your own feel for things. You have a gut feeling; you have a sense of what is going on. You can be wrong, sometimes you are glad you are wrong, but experience tells you a lot. So, it was that after about 10 years in the ministry I began to get a feel for some things about young couples getting married, but I didn’t always like what I was learning. Sometimes I put it this way: the more expensive the wedding, the shorter the marriage. Now, of course, there are already some people saying, “My daughter had a very expensive wedding and she is still happily married 30 years later.” So before we go further, let me say that I know couples like that too. And every effort should be made to make weddings beautiful and fun. Still, a recent article in The Atlantic Monthly demonstrates that my gut feeling was substantially right on. A study of over 3,000 couples showed that people who spend ten to twenty thousand dollars on a wedding (which is no longer that unusual) are 29% more likely to end up divorced than those who spend five to ten thousand. And those who spend under five thousand are even 18% less likely to eventually break up.

Sometimes people are tempted to pay less attention to what really matters and more on what things look like on the outside. The same study showed that men who said their partner’s looks were a very important in their decision to get married were 50% more likely to end up divorced, and women were 60% more likely to split when they cared about their partner’s wealth, compared to people who said neither was all that important in the decision.

My own sense of things was that in general those couples who seemed to have a good sense were not the showiest people. Those who knew what it was like to be there for each other weren’t always advertising it to others, those who knew how to keep a job and manage money are not the most flamboyant, and those who had common sense about raising children didn’t always take the most expensive vacations.

So what does that all have to do with the folks at Holland Christian Homes? Plenty. Young couples aren’t lining up to get married here, but many of the things that make for lasting love are richly demonstrated every day. And not only for those blessed to still have a spouse. It is just beautiful to see the way so many husbands and wives kindly wait for each other and help each other every day, but the same kind of wisdom builds community for the rest as well. Whether married or widowed, it is still a beautiful thing to take time to listen to a neighbor, but it does not depend very much on how good looking you are. And helping someone with their shopping goes just as well no matter how much you paid for your car. The things that really show that people care about each other still don’t have much to do with outward appearances. What really makes for a nice cup of tea with some of your friends has little to do with how much you paid for your china. A lot of love goes into volunteering to take residents of the manors out for a walk as happens every week, and the same goes for those who bring them to the tea socials. Simple but wonderful faithfulness brings volunteers to help residents in our manors eat their meals every day. Those who make the various evening fellowships and game nights happen in the Towers perform a wonderful service that makes for joy for a lot of people, and the list goes on with all kinds of service that is given.

The greatest lover in all of history was someone about whom it was said, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 52:2). God had no problem stooping down to help. The Son of God had no problem taking on the role of a servant. Following this example is what builds real love in families and in communities, whether you are young or old.

H. Bruinsma.