(April 2011, originally printed in 280 Living, Birmingham, AL)
In March, my wife and I attended a family member’s wedding (on her side). This family member is one of our favorites, and one of those family members that the entire family celebrates. He was marrying a true “sweetheart of a gal,” a truly delightful young lady, beautiful and with a phenomenal heart—a perfect fit for him. It was a ceremony we were looking forward to attending, and a ceremony that, dare I say it without sounding sentimental, warmed your heart. Let me clarify, it was the kind of ceremony that caused you to reach over and grab your spouse’s hand because you were not just reminded of your own ceremony, you relived it. I was reminded and experienced all the hopes and dreams and purposes I had for committing my life to my wife in marriage. It was an incredibly moving ceremony.
For example: my favorite moment in the ceremony was the entry of the bride. You see, I usually don’t watch the bride (I know, breach of etiquette). I am usually watching the groom, especially his face as his bride-to-be appears in his field of vision. I love that moment when he sees her for the first time in all of her wedding glory. In this particular ceremony, the bride requested that the “witnesses” remain seated as she entered (I know, gasp; but she preferred for everyone to stand not for her entry but during the reading of Scripture; and as the minister pointed out, on the wedding day, the bride is “always right”). So everyone staying seated provided me a very clear view of the groom’s reaction. And, oh my, what a reaction the groom had when he saw her. He smiled, then his eyes went glossy as a tear formed on the bottom rim of each eye, and then he started to mutter (I did not ask him later what he was saying, but he appeared very grateful, so I assume they were prayers of thankfulness), and then the tears started to run down his face as the smile broadened out. When she arrived, he reached out his hand and she reached up to his cheek. And they just stared at each other. Glad. Grateful. Glorious.
My wife turned to me and chuckled.
My son patted my hand.
And like the groom, I did not wipe away the tears, but enjoyed their feel on my face, and this moment of pure joy that rained and reigned.
Another favorite part of a wedding weekend, if I am privileged enough to be invited, is the rehearsal dinner. The meal is usually some reflection of the couple, and these days there is often a multimedia display of the lives of the bride and groom, which reflects the journey the two have made in order to arrive at this place and time. But the best part are the “speeches” that occur after the meal; the stories, the reflections, the hopes, the prayers, and the blessings; especially the blessings. Blessings are part prayer, part hope, part prophecy; they are amazing utterances that send a tingle down the spine and stir the passions of the soul as they impart a vision for the couple for their present as well as their future. They are powerful. And I love them.
I work with a lot of couples, both pre- and post-marital. It is a journey I really enjoy taking with each of them, in whatever season of need they have. And in each season of the year, a common theme usually arises. If I could proclaim a blessing over the marriages that occur this spring season of 2011 in the greater Birmingham area, based on the theme I am seeing this season, it would be this: Speak the truth in love to one another. In doing so, fear not the loss of the other. Such fear often leads to withholding in order to spare hurt feelings or to avoid provoking an unnecessary fight. But FEAR NOT; take the step of faith to speak the truth in a compassionate and understanding way. Your spouse needs to experience the weight of the truth you see, and hear it the gracious way only you can speak it, so that intimacy and growth may occur for you as individuals and as a union. So, speak the truth in love to one another.
In doing so, you will be moving with intention to making real the hopes, dreams, and purposes you intended for your marital union. And you will be glad, grateful, and, dare I say it, glorious.
To talk further about the hopes, dreams, and blessings for your own marriage, please consider LifePractical Counseling for your counseling or consultant needs. You may reach us at 205-807-6645. Paul Johnson is a professionally licensed marriage and family therapist and professionally licensed counselor in the state of Alabama.