As soon as my hand touched his back, overwhelming peace flooded through my veins and silenced my lurching stomach. For a man who hides his emotions well I was relieved to see he felt the same as I did. Overcome with the sincerity of the day and emotions that go along with it, we were finally together and that was all that mattered.
Preparing for my Groom
It was too early to wake up. I knew I needed to sleep more, but I also knew I had to trick my body into thinking it was tired so I wouldn’t just lie there and let my thoughts run wild. I quietly slipped from the bed onto the floor and cranked out a couple of quick push-ups. (Y’all – I’m seriously not a fitness fanatic. I seriously just needed to move my body to calm down all the feelings.) My childhood best friend woke up, confused but laughing. Weird, definitely, but it did the trick and I was able to catch a little more sleep before the day truly began.
Later that morning (at a more respectable hour of the day) I grabbed something to eat from Laura’s pretty brunch spread, complete with homemade breakfast cups, an assortment of juices, and a parfait bar. I only had a few minutes to spend with my girls before rushing off to get my hair fixed at a salon (because, curly hair problems) before returning to join in makeup application, but those minutes were just what I needed to kickstart the special day.
The adrenaline made my body weak. I was dependent on the encouragement of my friends’ hand squeezes and reminders to slow my thoughts down. The moments of preparation were a blur of seeing them utilize their God-given creativity to make everything so beautiful: in their hair, makeup, dress, and photography.
As we drove away to the chapel, my stomach turned at the realization of the quickly approaching moment I would finally be with Silas, my groom.
The Tactical Surprise
A few weeks into our engagement I asked my future husband a craftily positioned question. With the most casual tone I could muster, I wondered aloud what our life would look like: when we might have children, what our first gun purchase would be. My Police Officer fiancé had recently hooked me on shooting handguns, so I was a little disappointed when he informed me that a very particular WWII rifle was next on the list.
I figured this wedding present would be the last time I could truly surprise him. (Admitably it would also be the first time – because he’s painfully accurate at guessing and I’m horrible at being patient revealing surprises.) The hunt was on, I had a gun to find!
Every store in this state and the next came up dry. Frustrated, I almost gave up. The only success I found was a store who told me they had but one in stock, and it had been recently refinished. I was uneasy about buying something customized when I didn’t know if he would like it or not. Roles switched, it was as if I asked for a fixer-upper to redo myself and my fiancé was stuck choosing between a home redesigned by Joanna Gaines or the Scott brothers. (Jo is always the correct answer to that question, by the way.)
Not but a few days later, we took a trip to that same store after church. Naturally, he came across the very gun I was uncertain about. “Emmie, this is so cool! Do you know what gun this is?”
“No, tell me about it!” I was dying inside – he liked the gun! – but I played cool (as much as I possibly could) while he told me all about it.
The next day I went back and bought it.
Revealing the Rifle
Flash forward to the first look, and after we shared a few minutes of joy I handed him a carefully wrapped gift. “What is this?” He exclaimed. Out from his suit came his pocket knife (practicality even on the wedding day, you know) and he ripped open a box of strange ammo. I inquired if he would be able to use it with any of his existing guns, in which he shook his head.
“I might be able to help you with that,” I said as his cousin brought in a much larger box.
“Emmie, what did you do?!” An unexplainable look of confusion, joy, and suspense washed over his face as he opened the box, hands shaking with glee. YES! I finally did it! Sweet surprise success was my victory, and I couldn’t have been happier with his reaction and how proudly he showed off his bride’s awesome surprise!
The Calm Before the Ceremony
With all of the excitement of the day manifesting in the form of cold fingers, I was glad to have my groom’s hand to hold onto before the wedding began. I thought giving Silas a rifle beforehand would be an added benefit to me in the form of cooperation with picture taking, but it turns out it wasn’t even necessary. His face was glowing with love for me, and we got to spend good quality time loving on and enjoying one another’s presence as Esther and Melissa captured it all. Their smiles and audible encouragement only added to the happiness of the sweet moments I shared with my groom.
Before I was with Silas, the adrenaline I had made me feel weak. But as soon as I was with him, I had such a strong sense of peace and joy in the midst of the surrealness of it all. The thought of the covenant we were entering into was overwhelmingly serious. Marriage – giving yourself completely to one person for the rest of your life – is one of the biggest life changes a person can choose. I would be obligated to serve, love, respect, and honor Silas for every single day of my life going forward. The weight of that responsibility would’ve crushed me – within myself alone I don’t possess the power to be a great wife – except I had full confidence in one person specifically.
If there’s one major lesson loving Silas has taught me it’s this: we can do nothing apart from Christ. When I get down about my shortcomings as a wife I remember this truth I’ve been reminding myself of since the beginning of our marriage: I can’t, but through Christ, I can.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5, ESV)
I knew I was going to have moments of failure as a wife. I was going to fail to be selfless, I was going to fail to love Silas in the way he best receives it, I was going to fight against giving him the respect he deserves. I was going to test him, doubt him, and hurt him. But, by God’s grace, I’ve been made new. I’m not the person who I was, I’m not the person I’ll be when I mess up in the future. My identity no longer rests on my shortcomings and sin – I’ve been born again, I have the Spirit of God living inside of me, and I am able to have a victorious marriage because I depend on God to work through me.
Seeing Silas on our wedding day reminded me of all these things. He was the one who held my hand through making my decision to follow Jesus the rest of my life, and he was going to continue to hold my hand as we chased God together, forever. Apart from Jesus we couldn’t, but because of him – we will.