On November 1, 2013, I went on my last first date. One year later to the day, I married that man on a beautiful (cold) day. And unlike what most brides would say, our wedding day was not the best day of my life.
In the months leading up to the wedding, I was very concerned about things going perfectly. I also cared a lot about what people thought- did I leave anyone out of the party list? We're not having a huge reception- what will people think? Will the band sound okay? Where can I find the perfect rehearsal dinner dress? ARE THESE MONOGRAMMED NAPKINS FANCY ENOUGH?
I remember telling our pre-marital counselor: "I just want to be thankful." Because in all of the gorgeous celebrations and outpouring of love during our engagement season, I still had anxiety about things not going exactly how I had always envisioned.
A few weeks before our wedding, I had a horrible and bizarre flare-up of an autoimmune disease. There were so many ulcers in my mouth, throat, and esophagus, that you couldn't actually see the inside of my mouth. I carried a spit cup into the courthouse when we were getting our marriage license because I couldn't swallow. At my doctor's urging, we cancelled our honeymoon to Turks and Caicos. Things weren't looking good, but we pressed on with preparations.
One week before the wedding, I was admitted to the hospital. Days went by and I still wasn't better, but my doctors agreed to discharge me so I could get married. On the day of the rehearsal dinner, my mom and sister brought everything to the hospital and I got ready in my "suite." Stephen picked me up right in front of St. Vincent's and took me directly to the church. Thanks to some heavy duty pain medication, I was able to make it through the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.
On the morning of the wedding, I woke up in a lot of pain. I quickly packed a bag on the off-chance we could get away to the beach for a honeymoon. My dad ran to Chik-fil-a because ice cream was one of the few things that didn't hurt me. I remember taking a quick nap at the church and waking up feeling nauseous and in a lot of pain. I was also pretty irritable.
That special outfit I bought for getting ready? It didn't fit because I had lost 15 pounds. I never got a pedicure, so my cousin was painting my nails an hour before the wedding. I got ready in between getting sick in the bathroom. Not what a girl envisions for the morning of her wedding!
I don't remember a whole lot about that day. But I do remember feeling really thankful. Because for the whole week, I wasn't sure if I would even be able to make it to the wedding. All of those details I was stressing about a few weeks earlier? I couldn’t care less. Just get me down the aisle to see my husband.
I made it down the aisle, and everyone giggled during the "In sickness and in health" part of our vows. We cut the cake. We had our first dance. We greeted everyone in the receiving line. And then- I started to get sick again. Stephen grabbed me by the hand, we raced downstairs to the bridal suite, and he held my hair back while I vomited in my beautiful wedding gown. Our photographer came in shortly after to check on us, and she captured my favorite picture from the whole wedding. This photo is now hanging in our guest bathroom, and it has proven to be the best conversation piece.
We called the getaway car early, and set off toward the Tutwiler Hotel. I leaned my head on Stephen's shoulder, both exhausted and focused on not vomiting as the old classic car bumped up and down on the streets of downtown Birmingham. When we arrived at the hotel, I passed out on the bed while my sweet new husband hitch-hiked his way around the city to find some Vaseline for my blistered lips. When he got back, I kept getting sick, and we decided we needed to head back to the hospital. With tears streaming down my face and birdseed still in my hair, I was admitted to the ER on our wedding night.
We spent the next few days in the hospital, and my body finally started to heal thanks to a heavy dose of steroids. The kindest couple let us use their beach house for a delayed honeymoon a few weeks later, and it was one of the most healing, joyful, THANKFUL weeks I can remember.
I'm not saying I haven't been sad about my wedding day. It was definitely a loss. But there is something really beautiful, sacred, and miraculous that can happen when our grips are released from what we think we most desire, and all we can behold is the beauty and goodness of God. I've experienced it a few times since my wedding, and I know I will experience this countless more times in my lifetime.
I know I'm not the only one who has had a life event not go as planned- especially in 2020! And I know that this pales in comparison to most suffering in the world today. I don't pretend to know or understand some of the purposes of God. But I've learned to truly "consider it pure joy" (James 1:2) when faced with trials, because I know that they also come with so many hidden treasures.
I love to think about all of the gifts I received when my wedding didn't go my way. I got a chance to see how my groom, family, and friends responded and loved me. I got a really great story to tell my grandchildren. I received the Lord's comfort and provision. I was able to see where my real treasure is. And I got the opportunity to be truly thankful for it all.
"Disappointment -- His Appointment" Change one letter, then I see That the thwarting of my purpose Is God's better choice for me. His appointment must be blessing, Tho' it may come in disguise, For the end from the beginning Open to His wisdom lies.
"Disappointment -- His Appointment" Whose? The Lord, who loves me best, Understands and knows me fully, Who my faith and love would test; For, like loving earthly parent, He rejoices when He knows That His child accepts, UNQUESTIONED, All that from His wisdom flows.
"Disappointment -- His Appointment" "No good thing will He withhold," From denials oft we gather Treasures of His love untold, Well He knows each broken purpose Leads to fuller, deeper trust, And the end of all His dealings Proves our God is wise and just.
"Disappointment -- His Appointment" Lord, I take it, then, as such. Like the clay in hands of potter, Yielding wholly to Thy touch. All my life's plan in Thy moulding, Not one single choice be mine; Let me answer, unrepining -- "Father, not my will, but Thine."
-Edith Lillian Young