Remarkable Faith: Reflections on a Wedding…

Oh my goodness, I was young. Not quite 21, struggling to finish the first semester of my senior year in college AND planning a wedding…for 600 of our nearest and dearest friends! Needless to say, the grades suffered.

I met him in my freshman year, taken by those big, brown eyes and impressed that our parents had known each other years before, when they were college students themselves. We worked through a few tough spots, but really – as I look back on it now – we were in no way prepared for marriage. But then – is anyone?

He was a person of faith and commitment. So was I. Each of our families was very traditional – stay-at-home moms, hard-working fathers. Each of us was involved in Christian organizations on campus and each of us believed that God had brought us together. We were both first-borns, strong-willed and highly verbal. We loved to laugh, we loved to dream about the future, we loved each other.

So…the wedding. Well, it was a different era. No dinner reception – there was no money for that. We even shared the floral bill with a wedding planned for later the same day. My pastor and his uncle, who was bishop in his small denomination, did the ceremony together. But…and maybe this should have been a clue for what was to come later in our life together…I wrote the ceremony. I did some research, found wonderful liturgies with beautiful words and put together what we both thought was a ceremony that spoke of us and spoke of God. I insisted that the word ‘obey’ be included in my vows. How times change…

My uncle was the organist and he did such a beautiful job, but…he missed one cue. There was to be a formal introduction of the newly married couple to the congregation at the end of the ceremony and Uncle Charles began the Toccata recessional just a tad too early. So I leaned around and shook my head at him and the music instantly stopped. To this day, that’s what a lot of folks remember most about my wedding – the bride telling the musician to stop the music!!

But that’s not what I remember. I remember two very nervous kids, lots of friends and family all around us, an almost palpable level of love in the glorious old sanctuary of the Presbyterian church where I had spent my adolescent years. I remember feeling grateful that we were together forever and I remember feeling excited about whatever might come next.

From that initial sealing of our lives together we have: traveled to Africa and back, living there for two years; had 3 children and 8 grandchildren; walked some dark roads of death and loss; been through the adjustments of my mid-life education (seminary) and career (pastoral ministry, where that early ceremony-building has come in mighty handy!); been down some interesting and complicated health detours for both of us; begun – just this year – what we hope will be a good, long time of retirement together.

And all along the way, we’ve learned a whole lot about what marriage is and is not. It’s a lot more than the wedding, that is for sure. It’s about ups and downs and ins and outs and give and take and laughter and frustration. It’s about compromise and cooperation, dependence and independence, partnership and problem-solving and promise-keeping and prayer. And it’s always about a great adventure – ours is at 45 years and counting.

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  1. Thank you for sharing your life. I had to laugh when you said that you weren’t “prepared for marriage, but then is anyone?” How very true!
    It sounds like you’ve had a grand adventure so far. Congratulations on 45 years and retirement!

  2. I suppose being prepared for marriage is a lot like being prepared for children: if everyone waited until they were completely ready, no one would ever do either!

    Congrats on 45 years!

  3. Thanks C & C for your kind words. And I absolutely agree, Caitlin – if we really knew what either marriage or childrearing would entail, we would be far more cautious about both!

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  5. Diana, thank you for sharing! Isn’t it amazing to look back – over a few years or a lot of years – and see the hints at what was to come?! I married my husband at 20 years old (MUCH too young!), too.

    Thank you for linking up this week!

  6. Lovely post, but it needs a picture!