“If you invite God to your wedding, He’ll become the third strand, the one that strengthens the bond you and your husband will create on your wedding day.” (pg. 3)
This was the core message Martha desired readers of Inviting God to Your Wedding take away from the book. Since that was the case, it was no surprise that “When you invite God to the wedding, he stays for the marriage, and a cord of three strands can never be broken” was among some of the wisdom Ramon dispensed during Rita and Norman’s final wedding preparations and impromptu premarital counseling session.
“Don’t marry anyone unless you can’t imagine living without them.” (pg. 20)
An unattributed piece of advice Martha brought bear in her book, it served as the basis for one of my favorite aspects of To The Altar. As I expressed in detail in The Evolution of Expediting, Papa O’Toole’s nuanced encounters with Oliver were a pointed reminder of how excruciatingly painful it was from a professional and emotional standpoint for him to live without Shane. By reminding Oliver of this fact, Papa O’Toole indirectly invoked this line of thinking, ultimately prompting Oliver to propose.
“If God attends your wedding, you are replacing optimism with faith and genuine hope. You are saying that you are aware of the challenges that marriage presents and that you are asking God to be there with you both at the very beginning and stay with you on that journey....marriage [is] a form of transportation through life…[However]the time to construct a boat is not when it’s in the middle of troubled waters…That’s why it’s good to invite God from the very beginning, to help you design your ship and set your course.”(pg. 36)
“Love is the ship we build with compassion, forgiveness and faith. To travel together, it is the dance of life. It is the greatest of contracts, the sweetest of promises to keep each other afloat amid the storms, to keep each other laughing in the sorrow, and faithful amid the darkness. To rejoice with each other in the morning, to honor each other in the evening. It is a gift from God, the source of this love and of the river itself. The one who will carry and guide us from this shore to the next.”
A steady friend through time and trouble, God comes alongside to guide spouses through the joys and challenges marriage presents, a truth humbly acknowledged by those who enter into it, and which Martha was sure to incorporate in To The Altar.
“If you’re getting married, then you will hear it all, the wedding superstitions, the cultural traditions, the bridal customs...” (pg 72)
Traditions or Superstitions---that’s the question Martha dedicated all of Chapter 7 discussing in Inviting God to Your Wedding. For the record, if you invite God to you wedding and believe he is capable of sustaining the marriage, then superstitions, born of fear, have no place. But, in To The Altar, you might remember Oliver’s distracted “preponderance of archaic, mystifying wedding superstitions,” which included “Why something old? Why something new, or borrowed, or blue? Then there’s that tossing of the bouquet, nothing more than a barbaric exercise in female wrestling…” These references were clear nods to this interesting, and enlightening, chapter in Martha’s book.
Given this poignant reflection, it’s no surprise that Martha was sure to take time for both Norman and Rita to spend private moments with the people who meant the most to them for hugs, tears and clearly much reflection and appreciation.
Other Lessons Worth Noting
“Weddings have a way of making people who aren’t getting married suddenly feel awkward…”
While I don’t have personal experience with this, I am sure Shane is absolutely right on. So it stands to reason that before the wedding season ever starts, this might be a helpful reminder NOT to begin judging or scrutinizing your relationship in light of a commitment another couple has decided to make. I suspect it creates unnecessary confusion and hurt. Comparison is the thief of joy. Do your best to enjoy whatever season you’re in (I know, easier said than done!).
Ardis and Bill’s partnership was also a reminder of the reality that a wedding isn’t just about two people coming together, it’s about two families coming together as well. It’s a sobering reminder about the importance of remembering the role of family in supporting that couple’s marriage covenant and being a source of support for the couple --- for better or worse --- moving forward.
What other lessons did you learn from Signed, Sealed, Delivered: To The Altar? For those of you that have read Inviting God to Your Wedding & Keeping God In Your Marriage, what other connections can you make?