Remember the Wedding, Live the Marriage

I wanted so badly to wake up with the sun. 

It was one of the many unspoken promises I made to myself during wedding planning: I'll rise at first light, meet God there, see the dawning of a new day, journal, breathe deep, be grateful to the core. 

My best friend nudged me at 9:00am: "Lacy, it's your wedding day!" 

And that was the beginning of breaking deals made in the part of my mind that craves perfect orchestration and imagines romance where there is none. 

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I sat up annoyed at myself but gradually relaxed into the wonder of our wedding day, September 16th, 2012. I cannot describe what it was like to be embraced by so many who know you, who have loved you and your family and your fiance and his family too. I cannot describe the joy of being prayed for by women who shepherded you into freedom, who are almost as nervous as you are, who understand the cosmic reality of what you are walking into. 

It was a supernatural day. 

When I think back to the wedding now, I see the details in HD, crystal clear. It must live somewhere in my long-term memory, because I'm not the type to recount events in play-by-play. I'll recall the sensory experiences and the emotion and tone, but rarely the chronological sequence. Granted, more pictures were taken that day than every previous day in my life combined, so maybe that's why I can still transport back in time to replay the minutes of our wedding in vivid detail. 

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On that day, I had no idea what was coming. 

There is no self-pity or patronizing in saying this. I simply could not have known. Though I had some naivete about marriage, I was not afraid of hard knocks. I grew up with two older brothers who taught me resilience from a very young age. If marriage was a fight, I was prepared to win. 

What I didn't know is that there are worse things in life than hard knocks. There are secret narratives, spinning around you like an invisible web, weaving in and out of longstanding traditions. There are losses too private to describe, and honesty that tastes metallic and keeps you sleeping on the couch, night after night.

Some moments in marriage are so painful, you wouldn't move forward if you knew they were coming. 

Other moments are so joyful, you wouldn't believe they'd be part of your story one day. How could I deserve or earn the kind of love that beholds me without a tinge of jealousy, malice, or restraint? And why is it that in spite of so many interpersonal conflicts and dysfunctional systems, there is a place vast enough to hold the love of two people, for as long as they both shall live? To have no answer to these questions is a source of joy that floods to the core of who I am. 

On anniversaries, we celebrate our wedding through conversation: "Remember how your grandparents Skyped in to the ceremony? And how hard our friends danced to Charlie Brown? How your brother drank champagne from our wedding glasses and our first destination in the getaway Fiat was CVS?" 

I remember the wedding in all of its splendor, but I don't try to relive it. I've felt pressure in the past to recreate as much significance and beauty as possible in order to conjure up an apparition of my husband, dressed in a charcoal suit, taking me in with tears in his eyes. It was such a heavenly day, after all. Why couldn't it last forever?

What I celebrate after 5 years married is this: 

That we keep choosing each other, even when there's a gulf between us. 

That one person can hold onto hope when another one's light goes out. 

That we honor the need to be silent with each other as much as the need to speak. 

That when competing priorities demand for more, we say "no" for our own sake. 

That we pray, we discern, we decide and we act.

That we trust slow growth unfolding over years at the expense of instant satisfaction. 

That we are still welcoming the same big questions we asked when we dated, because who knows, maybe our opinions, minds, beliefs, values could change? 

That we have two heads between us and thus never consider one person to be the "head" of the household. 

That there is a cord of three strands wrapping around us and God, hemming us in.  

This is our marriage, 5 years in the making. 

Whatever we do not know about the future-the names of the sorrows and the joys coming down our pike-pales in comparison to what holds us together in this present moment. 

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