She came up the aisle blushing, a bit teary-eyed, pale lace trailing behind. His smile as he waited for her to reach him was as boyish as I remembered from when he was seven, causing all of their audience to smile and tear up in reflection.
When the ceremony was over, we gathered to watch the new husband and wife cut the cake. Hugging a dear friend I hadn’t seen for some time, I asked how things were going. “Well … ” she said, eyes darkening, “things haven’t gotten any easier, honestly. And being at a wedding today … ” she sighed, leaving the words hanging in the air. “It’s hard, you know? Hard to be excited and happy.”
I nodded my head, understanding, wondering how many gathered on folding chairs in the midst of flowers and tulle that day found themselves feeling the same way; ambivalent or even cynical toward the innocence and joy of the occasion, burdened by hard-won knowledge of their own. This sweet couple surrounded by the love of friends and family were, after all, just entering into one of the greatest challenges known to man or woman: marriage.
We light candles, decorate with flowers, sit quietly in rows. The couple makes vows, exchange rings. One thing is clear: there is nothing “normal” about a wedding day. It is a holy moment, an occasion set apart from our typical patterns of life and behavior.
Every wedding brings tears and smiles, hesitancy and hurry–paradox. Perhaps each wedding is a microcosm of what’s to come.
I watched the new bride and groom as they held hands, interacted with friends, smiled goofily at one another over bites of cake and posed for picture after picture. And I prayed.
Prayed that the Lord would sustain them. That His strength would be their solid foundation through storm and wind, through the inevitable shaking that would certainly come. As I looked around the candlelit tables that afternoon, I couldn’t help but pause and remember the stories behind the wistful faces looking on …
Precious babies born.
Dream jobs obtained.
Parents passed away.
My former giddiness at weddings has been replaced these past few years by something different: A mix of gladness and trepidation, worry and wonder, anticipation and peace.
When we walk down the aisle, regardless of how “prepared” we are, we truly have no idea what we’re getting into.
Thankfully, the One who came up with the whole idea does. Most likely, He’s paired us with the person most likely to stir up every bit of “stuff” we need to work on to be sanctified and become more like Jesus. He will be faithful to walk with us through all of that process; we just can’t forget He’s there.
When we take a hand and put a ring on it–when we wear those rings, years later–May we not neglect to take His hand, too.
“A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
A good prayer for a new marriage … and even better for the old ones.