“This is it.”
I glided out of the dressing room with a smile on my face as memorable as the trail of organza behind me. Stepping up onto a box stool to face a wall of mirrors, I watched the reflection of my Mom and maid of honor registering each element of the dress with me—the ruched bodice, the delicate beading and the trail of buttons down the back of the gown. I had tried on dresses with these two faithful women before, but this dress—my wedding gown—was different.
As a fingertip veil was placed over my upswept hair, I felt like a bride more than ever before. Not only was I clothed in elegant fabric, but I envisioning being clothed in something much more powerful—the sacrament of marriage.
I proceeded to say yes to the dress like the dozens of brides I have watched intently on TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress,” but that was about all I had in common with those brides-to-be. While many of those brides lose themselves in the glitz, the tulle and the “wow” factor, I looked for a dress that not only complemented my figure, but represented my journey into married life. While the brides on the reality show boast extravagant budgets, I watched as my mother humbly purchased my gown, a gesture her own mother extended to her 28 years ago.
Love never stops giving.
In one of our recent marriage preparation sessions, George and I learned more about Christ’s relationship with the church and the relationship between a husband and a wife. While we have wonderful examples of selfless married love in both of our lives, we often forget about one of the most powerful examples of married love found in the Bible and in our everyday lives with Jesus Christ as the bridegroom and we, the body of believers, as the bride.
“As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”
From the very beginning with Adam and Eve, we were loved and protected. We, as the bride of Christ, have always been adored, pursued and never forgotten. Marriage isn’t something that we created, our priest explained. God created marriage at the beginning of time, and true married love reflects Christ’s unrelenting love for His church.
The covenantal relationship of a married couple requires that we “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21) We must die to ourselves each and every day for the benefit of our spouse, just as Christ died for us. As our priest described this reality to George and me, he asked George to look at the crucifix in the small conference room and said, “You must die for Jessica each and every day.” He then looked to me and said, “You must love George and honor him in all that you do each and every day.” What a poignant moment as we prepare to enter into the sacrament of marriage.
Whether you are called to the vocation of marriage or called to be single right now, you can begin this important preparation work today by dying to your will and following God’s call on your heart in each area of your life. By giving of ourselves completely, we truly love, just as God loves us.
“Marriage is beautifully simple,” George said quietly at the end of our marriage preparation session.
I thought back to that profound moment standing in front of the row of mirrors as an expectant bride-to-be draped in yards of beautiful fabric with a delicate veil flowing down my back and the sacrament of marriage just within reach and replied:
“Yes. Yes, it is.”