We’re getting married this weekend, and people, it seems, want to know how I’m feeling. From colleagues to friends, everyone keeps asking. Well, I’m excited. I’m happy. I’m even a bit impatient. Mostly, as David said in his post a couple weeks ago, I really just want our wedding day to be in the past—a fond, treasured memory. I’m eager to take on life as a married man, but as for that particular day, looking back on it will be sweeter than looking forward.
If there’s one thing David and I have in common is that we hate being the center of attention. We break out in hives under the spotlight. It might seem odd, given that we’ve chosen to write publicly about our journey, but really, we mean it when we say we’ve done this to seek the growth that comes from discomfort.
Eloping was our first choice, and since we decided against it, we want our wedding day to be as low-key as possible. We want to celebrate with our friends, have fun, be comfortable, and be good hosts to our guests—we want to celebrate them, not us. We want to serve them. They, our community, are the reason we decided to have a wedding in the first place—we wanted to honor the importance of church, friends, and family, and the role they play in making a marriage stronger.
Good luck, however, making your wedding day not be about you. Try not being the center of attention. It’s not easy. Straight grooms at least have a big, puffy white decoy distracting all the guests. As a gay groom, you’re out of luck. We know that no matter how hard we try, all eyes will be on us—would it really be all that weird if we hired a woman to just stand off to the side somewhere in a wedding gown?
So we’re feeling discomfort. And growth. But mostly, love. David and I have been blessed with wonderful friends and family who are genuinely excited about our wedding. The love we’ve felt is hard to describe. Our community has been celebrating our union with a sincerity that fills our hearts. They’ve thrown us parties, bought us gifts, written messages, donated to our church. Many are traveling to be with us on Saturday—some even internationally. Our worship pastor put together a small choir to sing at the ceremony, and they have been practicing for weeks. We thank God for these beautiful, loving people we call friends.
Beyond that, unpacking my emotions the last month has been uncharacteristically difficult. I’m usually very good at self-analysis—David has grown familiar with my middle-of-the-night email reports on what I’m thinking and feeling and why. He has gotten to know me better than anyone thanks to them. This time, though, there’s been something not quite right that I’ve avoided figuring out, like a pebble in my shoe that I just don’t want to see.
David has friends coming who’ve known him since kindergarten, and several he met in high school. His cousins, aunts, and uncles weren’t invited because there’s so many of them, and our wedding is so small, but still they’ve showered us with gifts and well-wishes. The only family I’ll have present are two of my sisters—the eldest sibling didn’t so much as acknowledge my excited message sharing the news of the engagement, much less our invitation. I’ll also have a mentor present whom I met when I was in college. He’s like family, and because he feels like family he even offered to contribute to the cost of the wedding—both David and I were blown away by that unexpected gesture. But other than the three of them there will be no one at my wedding who has known me for more than four years.
The pebble I haven’t wanted to pull out of my shoe is sadness. It’s very small, really, but it’s there and it is unwelcome. It doesn’t belong. Or does it? As I think about it, I realize it does. I’ve mourned the loss of the relationship with my parents and my eldest sister and have accepted that things are not likely to change. But at times like this, part of me will always miss them. If David and I have children, I'll miss them the day we bring the kids home, too. And that’s OK. It’s OK to be sad about not being able to share life’s biggest moments with people you love.
The problem is, I don’t deal well with sadness. Like anger, it’s an emotion I’m simply not familiar with. It takes a lot for me to get angry and it takes a lot to make me sad. So when it appears, even if it’s small, it throws me off. It takes me a while to even recognize it. I confuse it with stress or anxiety, and end up following those feelings down dead end streets in my psyche, looking for their root.
Spotlight. Discomfort. Growth. This is me growing. Shedding light on this sadness, calling it what it is, helps me know myself better. This, in turn, helps me be a more stable shoulder for David. The light also neutralizes the sadness. The unfamiliar can be scary, and not knowing the nature of my sadness, I made it out to be more than it really is.
Owning the fact that 95% of the people who’ll help me celebrate my marriage are fairly recent additions to my life is validating. Their love, and the very genuine affinity I feel for them is to me a proof of God’s love. The friendships I’ve made, even just in this past year in Portland, feel like the kind that last a lifetime. I think of the smiles, the faces, even the hugs I’ll see on Saturday, and I’m overwhelmed with joy, with the fulfillment of a promise that I wouldn’t be alone. I’m keeping my little kernel of sadness. I’ll honor it. But I’ve taken it out of my shoe, where it causes pain, and put it in my pocket, where it simply is.
And with that, let the celebration begin. Let our friends, our church, and family be honored for the gift they all are. Let’s get this wedding going!
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