Guest Outpost blog by Kristin Stroble
It’s wedding season. After a whirlwind adventure of officiating four weddings in five weekends I’m finally spending time to reflect. They were four very different couples. One couple was young, marrying their first love. Another couple was risking the choice to love again after divorce and heartbreak. One groom had been waiting a very long time to meet his partner, someone he could spend his life with, together learning how to love.
Like the couples, the weddings were all varied. Two were in a church and two were outside. Two were on the small side and two were larger. One had a great deal of family participation and one even included a dog.
All four couples anxiously prepared, worked and organized for that one day. All four wanted that “perfect” wedding. One of the things that I always assure couples during pre-marital counseling is that no matter what happens leading up to the wedding or on the wedding day… despite the centerpieces that don’t quite get finished, the conflict over the seating arrangements, and family dramas… at the end of the day, you will be married.
Weddings, like marriage, usually aren’t perfect. But it’s those imperfections and unexpected surprises that actually create the best memories. As we prepared to begin the ceremony for an outdoor wedding, the skies opened up and the rain poured. The bride, of course, was upset. It wasn’t what she imagined and hoped for. And yet, as the ceremony closed, the clouds parted, the sun shone through the rain and a magnificent double rainbow appeared in the sky. In awe we stood underneath a sign of God’s covenant on a day when two individuals were making a covenant to each other.
All but one of the couples chose 1 Corinthians 13 as their Scripture passage. I assured each one that this passage really isn’t about marriage, as I inwardly cringed over having to figure out what to say about this passage yet again. And yet their desire for these words of poetry speak to the deep longing that I think most of us have for love – a patient, kind, unselfish love. In the same way that most people probably won’t have a perfect wedding or perfect marriage, we don’t love with the perfection that Paul describes. God’s love is patient, kind and doesn’t boast, but we see in a mirror dimly.
Each of the weddings had unexpected events and unrehearsed moments. But they were all beautiful in their imperfect ways. Life is messy. A wedding is no different. I think, though, that all of the couples would say that their day was perfect. It was perfect because they were making the choice to commit their lives to the person whom their soul loves. It was perfect because they were surrounded by their complicated family. It was perfect because love, in all its messiness, is so much bigger then our notions of perfection could imagine.
It was a whirlwind month of weddings. Four different couples, four different weddings, the uniting of eight different families. And perhaps they weren’t perfect, but they were beautiful signs of God’s love at work in this world.
KRISTIN STROBLE serves as the pastor of Heritage Presbyterian Church in Youngstown, Ohio. She enjoys coffee, books, running and spending time outdoors.