Twenty years ago today, I said I do, and then argued in the limo between the church and the reception, and then walked straight up to the bartender and this non-drinker said, “Give me a shot of anything, and keep ‘em coming. I’ll be the one in white at the head table.”
I did that because I knew. I knew I had just made a mistake.
I did not just think this between the church and the reception though. This was not new information.
I had that moment alone in the bride’s room where I looked at myself in the mirror and told myself I could walk away. My Dad, if I remember correctly, even told me he’d get me out of there if I needed him to.
But my wedding day was not the first time I thought that either.
There were hundreds of moments during that four-year rocky courtship of dating and fighting and breaking up and getting back together and begging for a proposal and a broken engagement and trying to stay together as if nothing had changed and breaking up again and getting back together again and another forced engagement and fighting and fighting and fighting when I thought deep down, What are you doing? Walk away. You’re going to emotionally kill each other if you don’t.
When you saw me planning my wedding all those years ago, it wasn’t excitement driving me, I now know. It was panic. It was get this man down the aisle and that ring on my finger before he changes his mind again. It was if he won’t marry me, no one will, because I am unlovable and I can’t stand the thought of being alone for the rest of my life.
Though I did love my then-husband and though I wouldn’t trade my children for anything in the world, what I did that day when I stood before God and my family and friends was make a mockery of marriage. I took it too lightly. It was all about me and my security and making sure I got that one thing I thought I needed so desperately because I didn’t trust God to make it happen for me.
I am ashamed of that girl. And yet, I have so much compassion for her. She was so, so scared. She was so sad. She felt so unloved. She felt so alone. She had so little faith. And when we are scared and sad and feeling unloved and alone, we tend to not make the best decisions. So I am showing my twenty-three-year-old self grace today. And I am telling her it’s all going to be okay. And I am letting her off my hook. And I am whispering to her to learn from all of this.
Gratefully, twenty years later, I know I am loved. And that has changed and will change everything.