Right now I’m in sort of a postpartum wedding depression as I try to remember just what it was I did with my time before I started planning a wedding. It’s almost anti-climactic now that it’s over. Not that I don’t love being married, but you put all your time and energy into ONE day, and then it’s over. Poof!
In the days following the wedding, I began to reflect on how much of myself I poured into this event and I started to feel ashamed, if not hypocritical. A wedding can really mess with your perspective as you gradually become totally consumed by it. I went into the whole process intending to keep a level-head, not like those “other brides” I had known. But I’m not entirely sure that is a possible goal. Almost inevitably, I succumbed to the very same pitfalls into which I had watched many other brides fall.
When I looked at how much time I put into planning the menu and the wedding favors and the table centerpieces, and I compared that with the message of the wedding ceremony–namely, the centrality of Christ–I felt convicted that there was a huge discrepancy. On the one hand, I wanted it to be all about the Gospel; on the other hand, I was essentially losing myself in the preparations. That doesn’t exactly seem to match up.
However, I have begun to wonder if my conviction is rightly placed. I have started to suspect that the preparations themselves are a part of the divine reflection that marriage is meant to be. In the Bible there are a lot of parallels between marriage and the Christian life–Christ is the groom and his bride is the Church–so we focus on this illustration the day of the wedding and the days that follow.
But here’s the thing–a wedding doesn’t just happen out of nowhere. It’s not like one day my husband and I decided to get married, so the next day we went to the church and said our vows. We spent months and months preparing ourselves for one another. We took classes, we read books, we prayed, and we made sure that the day itself would glorify God. And in addition to all that, we had actually been preparing long before we even met each other. For the last 28 years my parents have been praying for me, and I’ve been praying as well. I’ve tried to guard my purity and be the kind of woman with whom a godly man would want to partner.
With all of that in mind, one might say that on some level, preparation for marriage has actually defined my entire life up to this point.
Is this degree of readiness inappropriate? Or is it exactly what God had in mind as He designed marriage to reflect our relationship with Him? Are such thorough preparations not the very thing God intends for us as we prepare for our heavenly bridegroom, Jesus Christ? In the same way that a bride pours herself into preparing for that special day when she becomes one with her groom, are we not called to do the same?
In Matthew 25 Jesus tells the story of 10 virgins, 5 wise and 5 foolish, who are waiting on their bridegroom throughout the night. When the groom finally arrives, 5 are prepared and ready to meet him, so they immediately join him at the wedding banquet. The other 5, however, are not prepared and must return to their homes to get ready. In doing so, they miss the bridegroom and are left outside the wedding banquet.
This is indeed an analogy for our lives. The parallels between Christ and the Church do not begin on the wedding day–they begin long before. As I frantically rushed about doing all I could to make the wedding day perfect, I was participating in a story far greater than I realized. My preparations were a picture of how we should live our lives in preparation to meet our heavenly bridegroom. These preparations should literally consume us–every minute of every day we should be readying ourselves for the day we meet our Savior. Like a bride in a white dress, we want to stand before him knowing we did our best to honor and serve him, without a spot or stain of pride or disobedience. We must throw ourselves into these preparations like a crazy bride who will do anything to make her wedding day perfect. After all, as much as I love my husband, I desire to please my Savior so much more!
So yes, I did get a little carried away with the wedding preparations. But I think God knew that would happen to just about every bride who ever said “I do,” and perhaps He even planted that drive within us. Why? Because it is a perfect reflection of the avidness with which we should approach our heavenly union with God. Whether you’re married, engaged, or forever single, the analogy transcends all relationship statuses. We are all to be in a state of preparation for marriage, living each day in preparation for our most adoring groom.