I got to officiate at the wedding of a college friend this last weekend; what an honor! One of my favorite parts of the service was an image I stole from the groom.
He told me the story as we met together to prepare not only for the wedding but for the marriage to follow. His bride-to-be was stressing over some quirk in her personality or some ingrained pattern of behavior that wasn’t completely compatible with sharing a house, let alone a life, with someone else.
Of course, the groom also had his own back story and baggage—the later you marry, the more baggage you tend to carry, but only by virtue of having more time to pick some up. So the groom is a complicated individual with personal baggage and wanted to let his bride know that it was both normal and expected for her also to be a complicated individual with personal baggage. So he told her, “I love your whole pie.”
I love your whole pie.
It must have worked, because they both told me how that concept became kind of a saying in their relationship. They even came up with an emoji, so they could text the idea, shorthand: (X).
Get it? It’s a pie: (X).
To say, “I love your whole pie,” is to say, “I accept you just the way you are. I love you, all of you; even the parts of you that aren’t easy to like; even the baggage you carry with you; even the patterns of behavior you have learned over time that protect you while shutting everyone else out.
“I love you at your best and at your worst. I love you when you make me happy and when you make me sad. I love you when you forgive me, and I love you when I have to forgive you. I love your whole pie.”
I think that’s a wonderful thing to be able to say to one another as you prepared to get married. I think it’s even more wonderful to say to each other after you’ve been married for a year or two (or 10 or 20)…
I think they capture the right verse to go with their pie when they selected Colossians 3:13-14 (NIV) as part of their wedding text:
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Bear with each other. I think that actually means, accept the whole pie.
Forgive + Love = (X).
And the result of that love and acceptance, that free forgiveness and even pre-forgiveness, is not somehow getting walked all over by someone with more baggage than you. The result of loving the whole pie, as Paul describes it, is songs of thankfulness, ongoing growth, and gratitude in your heart.
Jesus puts it in an even more obvious way. After commanding his followers to show the same kind of humble and servant love to each other as he shows to them, Jesus describes the outcome of loving people who don’t deserve it, forgiving people who constantly disappoint you, and giving yourself away for the sake of sinful people who carry all kinds of personal baggage. The result of loving people like that? According to Jesus, the result is joy. And not just any joy; the kind of joy that belongs first to Jesus, and then to us.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
(John 15:11, NIV)
[I really wish Jesus would have said that same thing earlier in John… The first reading for the wedding service included Zephaniah 3.14; the second, Colossians 3.14. If I could have just worked John 3.14 into the service, we would have had a buffet of pies! (Get it? 3.14. That’s pie…)]
When you love someone’s whole pie, you are only being like Jesus, who loved your whole pie first. Jesus loves you completely (X) and the result of that love is joy. By the power of that love, Jesus invites you to love others with reckless abandon (X) in part because he knows your joy will be so much more if you do.
We all carry around all kinds of baggage. We have all developed habits and defense mechanisms over time that might be there to protect us, but end up shutting everyone else out. We all have good days and bad days, moments of grace and miles of self-centeredness. The only hope for any marriage, for any friendship, for any human relationship boils down to this: learning from Jesus to say, “I love your whole pie.”
And, according to Jesus, the result of that kind of love is joy!