This morning I woke up with bobby pins in my hair and with eyes still heavy from sleep. When I was finally upright, I rubbed my eyes and was shocked when dirt came off onto my fingers.
Wait, that’s not dirt. It’s mascara. Whew.
As the fog cleared from my mind, the events from the previous day came flooding back.
Preparation. Decoration. Flowers. Makeup. Laughter. Pictures, pictures, and more pictures.
My sister’s wedding.
My sister Christina got married yesterday, and it was beautiful. Surprisingly, I had no urges to cry during the ceremony—not even when my dad walked Christina down the aisle in her stunning white dress.
While Christina read her vows, I realized I wasn’t emotional because I had already been treating her fiancé like my brother-in-law. It was a huge adjustment for me when they’d gotten engaged, but he had slowly won my heart as a new brother.
In contrast to my positive emotions the day of the wedding, stress and anxiety plagued me in the week leading up to the big day. Worries about the wedding flitted in and out of my head like gnats that follow you around on a hot summer evening, vanishing for a moment and then stubbornly returning.
Why am I so anxious? I wondered. I’m not even the one getting married!
I took an afternoon to pray and journal, and I finally realized why I was stressed. As maid of honor and sister of the bride, I was convincing myself I was responsible for ensuring the wedding weekend ran smoothly.
The assumption that I was responsible for these things sounds appropriate unless you’re intimately familiar with weddings (and with my family). The days leading up to weddings are often chaotic and stressful and involve scores of last-minute details and last-minute conflicts.
To put it simply, weddings are unpredictable. No one can guarantee they will run smoothly—not even the best wedding coordinator in the world. We can do our best, but we cannot ensure perfection.
Though I was relieved to identify the source of the anxiety, I was also perplexed. If I wasn’t responsible for a smooth wedding process, who was?
Later that day I took a moment to breathe, and when I closed my eyes a picture formed in my head of God with open arms, a Father ready to care for my tired body and frazzled mind.
Peace flooded my soul as I accepted His invitation—not only to hold me but also to be ultimately responsible for the wedding weekend.
I flashed back to a time months before, when wedding planning was just beginning. My family talked about the key things everyone wanted for the wedding, and the list kept getting longer and longer.
As I sought the Lord’s guidance, I thought of Mary and Martha. Martha hurried about to prepare and was concerned with the details (two key parts in wedding prep). In modern-day language, I’d say she was hustling and busting her butt.
During this time, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. Despite the chaos of unfinished projects and in the midst of the time crunch (two more common themes of wedding weeks), she sat still.
One thing is necessary.
Just one thing.
It’s not the wedding dress or the catered food or the vows or even the bride-to-be.
Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. This was the better portion.
If in the process of planning and preparing for the wedding we sat at Jesus’ feet—if we honored Him and came to know Him better through the process—all would be successful. Even if the wedding schedule was thrown off or the toasts were botched—even if the food was terrible or the rings didn’t fit—there would be no regrets.
Not if we knew Jesus more. Not if He was honored. Not if we were sitting at His feet.
One thing is necessary.
The evening before I traveled to meet my sister and help finish wedding projects, I realized just how crazy Mary was. Mary was the host of a giant party for Jesus (this was no small ordeal! He was the long-awaited Messiah, the actual incarnation of God), and she consciously chose to ignore what I would call bare necessities.
The food. The seating. The cleanliness of the venue.
Some would call her irresponsible, a poor planner, a procrastinator, or lazy.
Jesus called her the one who chose the better portion. I’m so proud of my sister because I think she chose the better portion.
As I remembered Mary and Martha, I found I had been running from my spot at Jesus’ feet, convinced my hustling was necessary for a smooth wedding.
But there was my Father, arms open wide, beckoning me back to Him.
He was inviting me back to the place where I belong, the place where I can rest and trust He will take care of the details—the details that seem so important that no one else (not even God) can be trusted with them.
In impeccable timing, this song came out last week:
The arms of my Father
Are open to me
Here in your presence
Forever I am free
It’s no human’s responsibility to make sure a wedding runs perfectly, even if we take on the burden and label the task ours.
It’s no human’s responsibility to make sure a life runs smoothly, either.
It turns out that through this wedding process, I have indeed come to know my Savior more intimately. We’re free to trust Him with our weddings and with our lives.
Only one thing is necessary. If we choose the better portion, it will not be taken away from us.