This day, May 21, 1988, at 2 PM in the afternoon marked the fulfillment of many years of dreaming and months of planning for yours truly and groom. After a week of South Florida spring rains and my incessant begging of God for a sunny wedding day, my perfect day arrived!
Sunny, humid and low 90's with barely a cloud in the sky. Yes, exactly what I had in mind!
Then again, the hair appointment results were not at all what I had hoped. She, the hair stylist, didn't believe in hairspray. What hairstylist doesn't believe in 'mucho' amounts of hair product? In 1988? Are you kidding me?
Good thing I wore the hat rather than the tiara!
My parents were the best. They completely bought into the wedding day plans and made the day fancier than I would have. Mom managed the fabulous catering and insisted on real flowers for the day. Dad arranged for a local nursery to fill the choir loft of the church with palm trees and insisted on a videographer.
Family and friends gathered. My groom and I were giddy, tan and in love. The songs were our favorite wedding tunes. And the vows... they were special. I wrote them and my groom approved them.
I choose you alone, Randy, to love and to cherish throughout all the changes life will bring.
I dedicate myself to you alone, Randy, to become one with you and to encourage you in your life's work so that together we may serve God, each other, our family, friends, and others as long as we both shall live.
God be with us.
We were excited to say these words to one another. Wholeheartedly, we intended to keep our vows. Even our pastor validated our words of commitment to one another as beautiful. At just the appropriate time, we looked each other square in each other's teary eyes and with quivering lips of utmost sincerity repeated our vow promises to one another.
Truth is, we just didn't know what the words really meant. Our relationship had barely been tested in love and in commitment. Our young relationship, normal as any other, had faced some differences of opinion and overcome a few squabbles. Still, we had always been able to retreat to our separate homes and cool off. We had not yet faced the time we would have to choose to sleep side by side from opposite viewpoints. There was yet much to learn in the area of compromise, white flags and peace treaties!
Young in our mid-twenties, it seemed obvious that we would choose each other alone to love and to cherish. Look at us, we chose the popular wedding scriptures from 1 Corinthians 13 regarding the meaning of love, but our love had not been weather tested. We had no idea the following 7 words would be the proof of our vow to love and cherish each other alone.
throughout all the changes life would bring
My groom and I recognized life would bring many changes. We thought we knew exactly what those changes would be too. All those life changes had been neatly planned out - church membership, real estate, career, children, vehicles, and vacation choices. Oh, the illusion of control!
Oh, but Rev. Tommy Watson; he was the wise one! Apparently, he had officiated a few hundred weddings in his day. From his own life experience as a married man he knew. He emphasized this one.
Love never fails 1 Corinthians 13:8
We had no idea the roads we would travel, the twists and turns, and suddenly changing scenery, topography and climate change we would encounter over the years of our lives. We did know we would traverse them together.
My first true test would come almost immediately after our honeymoon was complete. Having just vowed 'I would dedicate myself to my groom alone to become one with him and to encourage him in his life's work', I was suddenly faced with the reality his life work would soon move us north out of my Florida home. That might sound silly, but never in my wildest imagination had I considered having to move away from the Sunshine State!
Even as youngsters we knew the right answer for our faith-life mission. The Sunday School answer was to serve and serve in the proper order - God, each other, our family, friends, and others. We knew what was required of us and believed it too. It was right and correct and properly responsible to commit for all the rest of our days. Yet, neither one of us had ever tasted true sacrificial service. We were selfish with our wants and desires.
(Case in point, see my attitude toward moving north to support my husband in his career. I was sure he could find another job IN FLORIDA.)
In short, we had no idea of what we were promising each other before God and man on that momentous, life-altering day. No idea!
And yet, here we are thirty years later, a bit more wise, seasoned and flexible. We've served as sandpaper to smooth out each other's sharp edges. Truly, we've strengthened one another as iron sharpens iron.
My groom and I, we grew together and then multiplied to a family of four. For a number of years, we divided ourselves too thin and managed life well together, but lost sight of intimacy. Finally, we found each other again and learned the deeper lessons of love, faith, hope and JOY in the dry and crusty parts of our journey.
As I look back on the marriage path we've traveled, I see thirty exciting, scary, funny, amazing, sad, prosperous, salty-sweet, grace-filled, faithful, lonely, lean, and abundantly joyful years of life lived full to overflowing.
We're still learning the true meaning of the words we vowed to one another way back at the beginning. I hope, and I am sure my groom too, we will continue building, renovating and establishing this Brittain household of faith for many, many years to come and for many generations to follow.
God be with us!