I know about the girlhood dreams. I know about the white dress, the first dance and the baited breath as a bride enters a church at the top of the aisle. Confetti, speeches, cake. I dreamed all of that. But none of it happened for me.
I didn’t have a wedding, as we know it today. Twelve people, our super cool pastor pal and we were married on 23 May 2009. I wore a grey dress, I didn’t want to walk down the aisle and I had no bridesmaids. I was eight months pregnant when I got married. I didn’t want to be centre of attention. I didn’t want to make a spectacle of myself ~ I was walking through the darkest valley of my life (Read my “Power of Vulnerability” blog post – you’ll see why.)
I didn’t feel worthy enough ~ worthy enough to be given any of that.
Hey look, this is no pity party. I’m not looking for sympathy. Just laying it out, how it was. Choices lead to consequence which leads to circumstance. I made a choice, I was dealing with the consequence and part of my expression of my inner struggle was that I denied myself the right to be a bride ~ in the traditional, white-dress-princess-tiara, kinda way. In denying myself that, I realised in hindsight, I denied my dad the opportunity of walking his only daughter down the aisle. I denied my best friend the chance of being my maid of honour. In denying myself, I denied those closest to me of things only I could give them.
I’m coming up on five years of marriage this May and this has been running through my mind over and over again. People have always asked me “Do you regret not having a wedding, in the traditional sense of the word? Don’t you wish you had it?” and it’s honestly, sincerely always been “No, I loved my version of a wedding. Where I was in my life right then, it was the best way I can think of doing it.”
My grey-dress-baby-bump-flat-shoes-no-tiara wedding was an inspiration to me. Once we’d said our vows, everyone in that chapel, including our parents and our best friends came around us, we all held hands and everyone prayed for us. It’s the only wedding I’ve ever been to that that has happened at. It was just like God was the thirteenth guest there. I could sense Him. And that’s all I really needed right then.
I didn’t need the dress. I didn’t need the walk down the aisle and have everyone gasping at how angelic I looked ~ cos I knew I really wasn’t. What I needed right then, was to know that God still loved me and for those few minutes, He came and reminded me He had never forsaken me. He’d never cast me out. He’d never believed I was not worthy of His grace, even though I told myself that.
You see, marriages aren’t about weddings. I think loads of girls get this wrong. Marriages last WAY longer than that one day that you’re in the spotlight. Well they should, anyway. The white dress gets packed away, the photos get hung on the wall and the video gets played when you’re feeling particularly nostalgic. The essence of marriage is commitment. Marriages are about loving without reservation, putting yourself second for your spouse, and about bringing God into every day and every situation, working together to bring glory to Him. That takes inexhaustible, daily, personal commitment to get that right.
I can say without a doubt, my marriage day (we’ll take the wedding out for my case) had everything that was important. A man who loved me, still loves me today and loved me even when I never loved myself (that still happens some days) ~ a man whose heart for me is one of the most beautiful features about him and a God who took the time to let my heart know that it was ok to return to Him. The man God intended for me, and the God who never left me were both there that day and both of them made it clear to my inner-hating-covered-in-guilt-shame-ridden self that they loved me, exactly where I was. In this life, no matter where it took me, they’d never abandon me.
So white dress, bridal party photos, toasts and speeches aside ~ my wedding day was everything I dreamed it would be. I don’t think in the normal rushing, loud music, always smiling, saying-hello-to-family-you’ve-seen-once-since-you-were-seven wedding, I would’ve heard this. But in the quiet of our ceremony, with everyone holding hands in prayer, it was as if God wrapped me up in His arms and said “Welcome home, sweet girl. I’m proud to call you Mine. No matter what.”
Hey, maybe one day, Matt and I will have a re-run and do it like everyone traditionally does weddings ~ I’ve actually always wanted to bust out Michael Jackson’s Thriller dance with my posse of cousins and my brother, in a wedding dress ~ but until then, I’m happy to say that there’s nothing I’d change about 23 May 2009.
The man I adore and the God we both love both showed up, and that’s all I needed.