What importance does a wedding hold after the cake has been cut and the lights and singing fade to only a memory? Maybe as you read, you can think of your own wedding and the significance it can still hold for you, months or years after the “I do’s.”
I didn’t deserve it. The pretty, pale pink bouquets lined together with equally pretty bridesmaids holding the tapestry of girlish hues. Nor did I deserve the towering display of sweet treats marked with a quote of comfort. “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” I didn’t deserve to have a gown of my dreams, sewn with antique inspired lace and glittered with beads of pearls and sequins. Can you guess where I am leading you on a tour? Since I cannot hear your response, I will lay out the obvious; we are now at a wedding.
My wedding. Only, it was a day that seemed as if it would never arrive due to a maze of obstacles that would make the game Mouse Trap seem like an easy feat.
Time to Rewind
Bear with me as I rewind the tape to a scene before the smatterings of lace, roses, and vows of love. My husband to be had a career partnership which dissolved due to unforeseen incidents. His forlorn expression told all: he was ashamed to be a male and jobless, and even more so, to have his fiance’ (me) working a job that caused my body to send itself into a tailspin of infirmity from a workplace that wreaked only harm at an Assisted Living Facility.
My Dad was severely injured on the job and received little retribution to cover the devastation. You would love to believe the higher authorities would care for you when your body is too frail to walk with painless normalcy, much less work. Yet many times, the small voice of the weak is silenced for the sake of growing the system’s wealth. The small voice will fight the tyrant, but unfortunately, the underdog doesn’t always win. My dad’s motivated will, yet (at the time) unsuccessful fight with the system led to further debilitation in his health from the stress. This is a story you must witness inside the four walls and not outside- just like many stories.
I was inwardly broken from witnessing my carefree dad shrink into someone he never was- depleted. He was a skilled artist in the floral industry. He promised when I was young, daydreaming of weddings that he would give me the lush variety of fanciful flowers I scribbled down as I planned my wedding under the age of ten. (The female variety will understand this one!)
It wasn’t the flowers I cared for, but his present of touch that would never birth itself into fruition due to his ailing health. At the same time, I was grateful for a father who would stand by my side at the wedding. Many brides do not even have the luxury of their father’s presence. I still count myself undeserving on this note.
The bride to be (myself) wasn’t fairing much better. I have an autoimmune condition that impedes my body from tagging what is harmful and sending it out of my body, as well as other immune system issues. I was working a job that sprayed chemicals in the air like it was harmless rose water at an Assisted Living Facility. My body would collect the chemicals, recirculating the toxins throughout my bloodstream to the point where my body was operating as if it had canals of sewage. I only received a paltry wage for selling my body to a place that was leading my frame to be more akin to a zombie than a human.
Would I be standing up at the altar only months away to kiss my groom? Could I attempt to do a simple two step with a dad who was too broken to spin me for a dance?
What is to become of God’s people when they face trials that leave them smacked to the ground by the ever increasing waves of life? The waves are too high to fight. The undertow is strong enough to grab the burliest man to an early grave. The answer rings true to every generation: we must call on the One who actually walked on water.
Reflections at the Beach
I was at the beach one day, pouring my nonsensical ramblings before God. (You can call me silly all you want; I can take it. 😉 ) “God how are we going to pay for this wedding? When we paid the down-payment for the vendors, Michael had a job that would afford the costs. Although not an exorbitant fee, I make so little in comparison! I have to pay my bills…and the cost of a wedding. How is this impending day of glee now turning into a day of heartache? Why now, God? Why?”
The waves crashed their watery bodies onto the blanket of sand that lay at my feet. Such a beautiful synchronization. These watery waves could very well threaten to take my life, just like the waves of life. But yet…they never have. The One who made them, the One who waltzed on the water like it was a dance floor made of wooden planks was controlling them, just as He was controlling the waves of my life.
“God, so many people are telling me to cancel the wedding. They know that it’s not possible for me to come up with the money to pay for the expense!”
Sometimes God greets you with soothing words of solace. Other times you hear no answer, only the materialism of the natural world: the ticking of the clock and the quickening of your heart, awaiting a reply. Nevertheless, He always hears and stores your prayers in a special place (Revelation 5:8).
This was one of those moments where I heard God’s comforting words wash over me.
“I will supply you with your needs.” Such a succinct and to-the-point statement. Although it was an answer, my head was still doing the mathematical figures, trying to compute the rationality to correlate it with reality.
“But how Lord? How will this ever be possible? My hours have been cut at work. I make such a sparse sum. The likelihood of my husband finding a decent paying job in this short amount of time seems slim to none after his partnership ended. I daily feel sick now. You know I wouldn’t have even dared place the down payments on the vendors if I had known we would have had these unpredictable elements of life come to us.”
”I know. But I will provide, and I will provide through my people.”
The notions didn’t make sense to me in the moment, nevertheless the words of assurance seemed to stand like an unmovable fortress in my mind. I felt peace. The vision I had in my mind’s eye of a cake which mentioned our value to God was more treasurable than the birds of the air seemed emblazoned in my spirit.
How like God to come to you with a vision of your wedding day before you even meet the Mr. and to give you the theme for the day: birds. Lovebirds. We were meant to be the lovebirds sitting in the palm of our Maker’s hand as He sovereignly works through the dubious details of our lives.
Never had I envisioned the details of life would cause such despair when I had first had the visions of ivory, lace, and love birds years before. But I knew the peaceful yet firm voice was from God that one day by the sea. Thus, I refused to delay my wedding, because such an act would only be delaying the nuptials to my husband that I knew was meant to be my forever partner for life.
Reaffirming the assurance was an ongoing habit in those short months to follow. I had to remind myself that God was well…God. Why? Because I had daily reminders that smacked my face with reality. Those “smacks of reality” would wake me in the middle of the night, taunting me that the wedding would never come to execution, that the wedding invitations would be sent out, only to have an embarrassing retraction delivered out by myself weeks later.
“Uhhh, yeah, so sorry to inform you that the wedding will be canceled due to lack of finances. Michael and I will be hitched at the local courthouse instead.” Fantasies would streak themselves across my mind of a marriage in the courthouse before a judge with a powdered wig and a wooden gavel. (My fantasies can be outdated at times. 😉 ) The idea seemed contrary to every romantic love story I heard, but practicality was sounding so much sweeter than Barbie and Ken’s wedding escapade. Nevertheless, I knew what God had told me. Although nonsensical in my human mind, I knew I had to follow through with the planned wedding.
Time to Pause- We’re There
God surely answers in the eleventh hour. I still do not know how the funds rushed in to cover the costs other than providence. A cake was made by a dear woman for a nominal fee, a friend who happened to be a master chef offered to cater our wedding free, another dear woman offered to extend a closet full of supplies essential to our wedding for again, free. Wedding flowers that would normally tally to a couple of grand were again, provided for free of cost. A honeymoon was so blessedly gifted to us, again, free. Other fill ins needed for the wedding were found for such a small fee. A wedding that would generally drain the bank of most individuals totaled at a fraction of the estimated sum. Just as God promised.
Why? Was this to satisfy my girlhood dream? Maybe a small portion was a gift from heaven to His daughter as a blessed mercy. But more than satisfying my whims, I believe its purpose held stronger significance. God wanted to be glorified in the day. He wanted all to know that although this couple had little, they served a God that was stronger than economic failures, soured business endeavors, and illness. To add, people combining forces truly does make a difference.
God granted me a beautiful gift that December night. My father who was in such a declined physical state was actually able to dance with his daughter to the tear-inducing song, “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman. It was a prayer I had prayed almost nightly for months preceding the wedding and a present I will be forever grateful.
My body stayed intact even though I started my funky walking and collapsing episodes just a month before the wedding. Again, gratefulness swelled in my heart.
Were there mishaps? A bunch. I could list every negative circumstance surrounding the ‘big day.’ But on December 20th, 2013, I married the Mr. that became my closest of family, which outshines any hair fiasco, dress stains, scheduling blunders, literally collapsing at the end of the night from yours truly, near starvation from the bride and groom (we pretty much feasted on cake like wild animals at our hotel room that night)…you get the point.
I could tick off a long list of the negatives, but the night was still a success because I met my goal- marriage to my forever buddy. I was married and I didn’t even have to enter the nuptials with a courtroom and a wig wearing judge. (Though I would have gone through with the unromantic quandary if I had to- if it meant marriage to Michael.)
So, what does this mean after the wedding, after the cake has been cut and the lights and singing fade to only a memory? You may be thinking, in the grand scheme of life, how does a once failing wedding suddenly falling into place have to deal with trials that seem so much heavier than a fleeting wedding? A lot. God desires for us to know that He alone is sovereign. We are that bird that is cupped into His hand, and no, we will never fall in between the cracks.
God wants us to lean on and trust Him with all of our might so that we can stop trying and finally fall into His grace.
This story seems so trite and simplified in comparison to the world’s atrocities that occur daily. The stories that deliver such heartache from my soul. But through my undeserved gifts, I hope to spread mercies to others who are desperate. My hope is to never place myself in a state of amnesia where I forget the suffering and with a holy burden, recall my own undeserved blessings.
All Photo Credit is attributed to Kati Rosado Photography with the exception of the ocean picture and the compilation of photos provided by Cher Stanley.
A Later Reflection
I would like to add that there were plenty of faces I would have loved to have seen at the wedding. One thing finances did not allow for was a barn full of hundreds upon hundreds of people. There are multiple unwritten invitations with imaginary cursive scrawls of those who I would have loved to have hugged and danced with. But the invitations are only in my mind’s eye. My one huge regret is the missing faces. My wedding was one of the last times I was able to mingle outside the home. Late 2013. Almost 2 1/2 years from today. The thought can cause a deep ache. There are so many people I would have loved to have seen then because of circumstances now. It may be you reading this. Or it could be the cherished souls I know today that I would have loved to have danced with then- when I could. For those who haven’t seen me in months, maybe years, just know I miss you. Dance for me if you could.