Guest Post: Love Without Boundaries

Hey friends--today I'm featuring a wedding speech that my good friend Dr. Greg Nelson wrote and delivered on the occasion of his brother-in-law's wedding this past summer. I found it deeply moving; even though written for a particular couple on a particular day, its theme is universal. I have lightly edited it, and present it to you for your joy and consideration:

A love without boundaries: It speaks to the supernatural and the transcendent as well as to the practical daily realities you bear with one another.

Integrating two people with different cultures is an obvious challenge. However, I think every couple should reflect on this, whether from opposite ends of the world or opposite sides of the same street. Even if you both came from the same small village with one faith, one language, and one skin tone, once you live together, you will discover that your mate is crazy. And each person is her own microcosm of little "C" cultural preferences and observances.

But what I most want to share with you today are thoughts on the greatest and most guarded of boundaries - the self. 

As you have and will continue to discover, even the most ardent love must lay siege to the fortress of self-preservation. This is where the transcendent and poetic meet the mundane and everyday. Our self-preservation takes many forms - the need to win an argument, the desire to meet our needs first, the lies that hide our imperfections, the retreats that avoid vulnerability.

But a real love without boundaries is one that razes even this final wall of self protection - daily laying down our own agenda and looking first to the other's good.  In our generation, this is heresy. We are taught you cannot love another until you love first yourself. Shouldn't love make me happy, we ask? Isn't all this selflessness just for fantasies and fairy tales?

Let me add another layer to the discussion. Our generation prizes keeping doors open, having a multitude of options at our fingertips, disposing of things the moment their newness fades. "Love without boundaries" is appealing to us because it sounds like freedom - no constraints, no rules. Many think of marriage, a commitment to only one person for the rest of your life, as a dungeon door slamming shut; we joke about a spouse as one's "ball and chain." But I want to encourage you both that in fact, the opposite is true.

As you stand here today, making this commitment to forsake all others and stay by each other's side until death do you part, you are in fact on the precipice of a truly limitless love.

I know that Le Petit Prince is a book with special meaning to both of you. Many of you may be familiar with it. In it, a child-like prince from another planet travels to Earth learns what it truly means to love another.

You will remember that in his journey, the little prince meets a fox. In the beginning, the fox is just an ordinary fox like a thousand other foxes in the world, and the prince like a million other boys. But as they cultivate their friendship, day by day, in the words of the fox, they "tame" one another. Through their mutual investment and connectedness they become priceless to one another.

Sounds nice, right? Well, don't be mistaken, this comes at a cost - the lost opportunity to experience other competing relationships and the certainty of future pain and loss. But this exclusivity is the doorway to the most fundamental of human hopes: to be fully known and fully loved.

As you stand here today, it is not that you have found "the One" who will make you perfectly happy. Instead, you are choosing to be "the One" to the other. Through your regular daily life, you will practice saying "no" to other people or things you may want, SO THAT you can say "yes" to each other. This process repeated will transform this person standing in front of you today into a diamond in a world full of shiny rocks. The boundary of your exclusive commitment to one another in marriage is actually the foundation for the limitless love you seek.

Remember the shock of the prince, when he finds out that the rose he thought was unique in the whole universe in fact looks just like the other thousands of roses on Earth? But after he has tamed and been tamed by the fox, he recognizes the true beauty of his rose lies in their shared experience.

He says this,

"People where you live grow five thousand roses in one garden ...yet they don't find what they are looking for. And yet what they are looking for could be found in a single rose. But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart."

This is the real fulfillment of the love you seek. Not every couple finds this path. Alas most do not. Where can such a transformative power be found?

It is apparent that the fox's teachings on connectedness come from his personal experience. A single act of romantic heroism, I can imagine, but a sustained conscious effort is difficult to fathom, harder to imitate - unless you have received it from another.

The Christian Bible tells us of another Prince who comes to earth and faces death for his beloved, triumphantly conquering the grave for her. The New Testament describes the love of God displayed in Jesus Christ as a marriage between God and men. And rightly so, for commitment is at its center.

Therefore, no matter your faith background or perspective, we can all look to this shining example of love and receive from God this great gift. In the experience of His transcendent love, we find ourselves transformed to reproduce the same for one another. I encourage you, never stop seeking the source of this limitless love.

Once again,

"People where you live grow five thousand roses in one garden ...yet they don't find what they are looking for. And yet what they are looking for could be found in a single rose. But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart."

Here is your rose. Here is your prince.