I now pronounce you…
I always wondered about the power of those words… ‘I now pronounce you…”.
How can one little phrase open the floodgates of pent up passion and pleasure and adventure which a minute before were off limits? How can one little phrase open up pain and liability and responsibility and fear which a minute before were as distant as Saturn and Pluto?
That little phrase has both pulled me and haunted me through my nights as I face the big day. This wedding preparation has been like going through the locks on the Panama Canal. Slowly moving forward, waiting for the lock to close, rising, waiting for the lock to open, slowly moving forward, waiting, rising….
On the news, I’m hearing about laser guided heat seeking missiles. Sometimes, in the chaos of the moments, I feel the missile exchange between myself and the one who has committed to spending a life with me. Last year we were like cuddly panda bears, eliciting giggles and smiles and selfies and pictures from everyone who saw us. We were the life and talk of the party.
Now, I’m not sure I recognize the penguin and snow queen about to take their vows. I hope my lips haven’t forgotten how to kiss.
There’s no question we’ve grown over the 23 months we’ve courted. I say courted because this man of mine told me the day we met that he had ‘kissed dating goodbye’ and wanted to let me know from the beginning that he’d be like a bulldog with a bone.
I suggested that before we discuss our long-term future of his life in the doghouse that we should introduce ourselves. He wanted to talk with my father about the relationship and I suggested that since I no longer had one available that perhaps he should talk with me. We finally got the names exchanged and got back to the beach volleyball game we were supposed to be playing.
Two of my friends said they couldn't find any red flags on Facebook and one said that she knew this guy’s cousin was in seminary studying to be a pastor. I found out he worked in marketing and called up his desk impersonating my grandmother to see how he treated customers. He sounded just like the other computers that call me up.
Our courting started out a whole lot like the dates I had been on in my previous life. Dinners, popcorn, movies, hiking, hours on the phone. The main difference was that I was sure that this new version of a man had been hardwired differently. He looked past me and through me and around me. It took a month before I could get him to stare into my eyes. Then he was tongue tied and red faced.
He stood beside me for pictures like he was imitating the statues in Central Park. He wouldn’t even hold my hand and I wondered if he had a major sweat issue. There were days I wanted to be a pigeon and send him a message he wouldn’t forget. At least he wasn’t a control freak. He let me pedal my own bike.
My pastor said we’d learn to love each other. I wondered how much culture might play a role in all that. Our pre-marital counseling seemed to test the limits of the standardized testing we went through. I could tell that things were going to be a stretch when we were told that it wouldn’t exactly be like trying to have a fish and a bird joining together. I told my fiancé that I thought I would feel more like a horse since I’d finally be in a stable environment.
The one thing that pulled us through was our faith in Jesus.
Jesus was like a sail that helped my future husband pull out of the harbor he would rather stay huddled in. Jesus was like a string for my kite personality in keeping me tethered to the earth. Somehow, we bumped into each other enough that we got past the names and the dreams for our futures.
We’ve had three friends on both sides and a family member already divorce. I’m not sure if we’ve done everything we need to do to make this through the long haul. We’ve tried to pray and study the bible and talk to couples who have endured. We’ve learned to talk face to face.
Here we are. Face to face. Listening. “I now pronounce you…”
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