Another wedding weekend
“I survived another wedding weekend,” I thought as I waited at the airport for my ride. Many of my friends have been getting married recently and I’ve attended lots of weddings. It’s fun and exciting to see my friends moving on with their lives, but I haven’t always felt this way. In fact, there were some aspects of these celebration weekends that used to make me a little uneasy.
For one thing, I never knew who else was going to show up, so I wasn’t sure I’d fit in with the crowd or not. It was fun to see old friends, but it made me uncomfortable when people talked about their jobs and spouses. It was hard not to compare my life to theirs and sometimes feel as though I was coming up short.
Also, it was challenging to watch close friends move on to new adventures. Change can be difficult and I knew that their new roles as married people could lead to big changes in our friendship.
And then there was my biggest dread: being single, and awkwardly alone, at a wedding.
How did I deal with the onslaught of these issues? Let me tell you what happened a few years ago.
After work on a Friday, I drove through the night to attend a friend’s wedding. It wasn’t until the wee hours of Saturday morning that I finally arrived at a campground near her house. I slept in my car that night and woke up early the next morning to get ready for the big day.
As a part of my morning routine, I like to read the Bible. This quiet time helps me feel closer to God. That particular morning I read an encouraging idea from Psalms, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” This idea really comforted me. It was so clear that God would show me which path to take that day—and always.
This verse reminded me that I was not alone or “single.” I knew God, my dearest friend, would guide me as I helped with the wedding preparations. I didn’t have to feel uncomfortable or out of place, but I could be at peace and even enjoy myself.
I was starting to see that my own life—whether it involved marriage or not, a focused career or more flexible employment—guided by God would be completely satisfying. This passage in the Bible helped me realize that God would always be with me, showing me the best way to go. It occurred to me that turning everything from my work to my relationships over to God would be far more effective and meaningful than trying to arrange it all myself.
I still felt a little anxious about seeing old friends, having a friend marry and what that might do to our friendship, and being one of the few single people at the wedding. But I felt comforted that I could never really be alone because I am always wedded—connected—to God. I really trusted this to be true, and I knew I could feel this in tangible ways as I trusted in God’s love.
I thought about how God gives each of us divine purpose and approval. This is the kind of true self-awareness that never comes from other people and cannot be taken from us by their disapproval or absence. Building a life and career in order to gain other people’s acceptance never really satisfies us. It’s our individual connection with God that matters most.
One woman who proved the value of developing a one-on-one relationship with God was Mary Baker Eddy. Her life was far from the societal norm at the time. Over one hundred years ago she was a widowed single mom and that couldn’t have been easy. But she learned that “…God is definitely individual …” (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 2). She found satisfaction and healing as she studied the Bible and spent time in close communion with God. She shared her discovery of Christian Science with the world so that everyone can understand their unique relation to God.
As God’s offspring, we are distinct and distinguished as spiritual ideas. Careers and marriages are important vehicles to strengthen our reliance on God, but certainly not the only ways to find happiness.
The Bible says that we should seek “first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” When we’re focused on what’s right according to God, not just on what we hope will happen in our lives or on what everyone else expects of us, then all the details in our lives fall into place naturally.
After really thinking about this that morning, it was no surprise to me that I had a good reunion with old friends that afternoon at the wedding. The conversations were fun and encouraging as we heard about each person’s latest activities. I could really rejoice in the good each of my friends was experiencing. I saw how their individual needs were being met and I was grateful. I caught sight of the “path of life” that God prepares for each one of us.
And before the wedding ceremony, I had a sweet visit with the bride that eliminated the fear I’d had that I was losing a friend. To me, that was the promise about being at God’s right hand, where “there are pleasures for evermore.”
Finally, I experienced the part about “fulness of joy” during the reception. I didn’t feel at all inadequate or self-conscious about not having a date. I met some new faces at the dinner table and cut the rug with a few great dance partners. I had a lot of fun.
Enjoying weddings and other social events gets easier and easier as my focus is now much less about making an impression and much more about finding God’s promised “fulness of joy” and “pleasures for evermore.”
Our paths in life may take very different routes than the ones our friends and family members take, but God is always revealing what’s perfect for us. As children of God, our ability to love and be loved develops from this spiritual selfhood, independent of our résumé or marital status. None of us can ever lack purposeful employment or meaningful companionship with God as our best friend.
Originally published in the Christian Science Sentinel, December 12, 2006.