Nineteen years ago this morning, I woke up with one thought echoing in my head: FINALLY!
Finally, it was May 1.
Finally, the day of the wedding was here.
Finally, I was going to start my new life.
I was excited for the celebration. But honestly, I was just glad we were getting on with it. Corey and I had been engaged for seven months (after dating for eight weeks; clearly, we are all about the slow and measured), and at times, it felt like the wait for the wedding was interminable. We both remember a Sunday night in early February that year, when we found ourselves sitting in a booth at Perkins, seriously discussing elopment. We made a list of pros and cons in one of my college notebooks, and in the end, reluctantly agreed it was best to stay the course and keep May 1 as the date.
So we waited. And waited. And waited.
And FINALLY, May 1 had arrived.
I practically rushed through my morning. I took a shower, ate some breakfast, headed for the church. I did my make-up and hair in the women's bathroom, which was both practical and nostalgic. Being the pastor's daughter, that bathroom held thousands of memories for me. I remember giggling that I was doing everything well but to the bare minimum. My make-up was the same as every other day, my hair wasn't professionally styled. My best friend helped me pin back my long hair with my veil and we called it good.
Corey showed up late to the pictures. He and his groomsmen had gotten caught up in a game of pick-up basketball. But I didn't really care. Our photos were beside the point. We smiled at each other with a mixture of relief and joy.
And then the ceremony, a blur. My Dad walked me down the aisle. (I can't even comprehend what my parents must have been feeling that day. I'm sure it wasn't finally.) My little brother handed Corey a plastic spider ring instead of the gold and diamond band, a prank he had been put up to by Corey's best man. I made funny faces at my bridesmaids during prayers to keep them from crying.
Because clearly, this was not a day for tears. This was a day for rejoicing, a day for laughter.
Of course, now I look back at that 21-year-old bride, so eager to get on with the future, so ready to embrace her new life, and I smile with tenderness. Because now I know. The journey she was embarking on was so much more than she expected. Adventure, yes. Laughter. Discovery. But also loneliness. Confusion. Separateness. Heartache.
But I also smile because she and I still have this in common: The absolute clarity that Corey is the one for me. (For us?) Even in the darkest days, when I wondered why God would do this to me, why He would set me up to make me so miserable, I never doubted that this was my destiny.
I still don't.
In one more year, we will have 20 years of marriage to call our own. I am almost to the tipping point, when more of my life will have been with Corey than without. Our relationship has weathered 11 moves, five pregnancies, four babies, a million frequent flyer miles. It has endured neglect, cruelty, selfishness and ruin.
But we have seen God's grace flood through the holes in us. We have witnessed redemption and restoration on a scale almost unfathomable. We now know what the saying means: and two will become one.