My track record at filling a role in other wedding capacities is stellar. Mother of the Bride? Been there. Mother of the Groom? Done that too, and in both cases the marriages are thriving. Thanks be to God.
But if there is such a thing as a Bad Luck Bridesmaid, I’m your girl.
A few weeks ago, Mike and I were going through old photo albums from the 70’s – the kind with the sticky magnetic pages. (Ever read those warnings about what non-acid free paper will do to your photographs? Heed them.) As I was removing faded prints from albums dating back to my high school and college years, I was struck by a sobering fact that somehow had eluded me till now. Four of the five brides whom I served as an attendant are no longer married. The men to whom they pledged their lives decades ago broke their vows and their wives’ hearts. Their “I do’s” are now undone.
If I were running for political office, my opponent could seize on this fact to prove causality. (“Don’t vote for Maggie Rowe! 4 out of 5 marriages ended after she stood up at the wedding!”) But even in my most paranoid moments, I know there is no link. One marriage lasted a year or two. Another over 30. But in each case there was nothing I could do to prevent my friends from being betrayed, set aside, abandoned.
Sometimes I feel “survivor’s guilt.” Four of my close friends from my teens and 20’s were involved in marital collisions not of their making. Why have I been so blessed to remain married for over 35 years? Why could my friends not have experienced what I have: the utter joy of full confidence in a man who is not only my husband, lover and the father of my children, but also my closest and most trusted friend?
I have no answers today, if ever I did. And far too many questions. But sobering statistics aside, I still believe in marriage. Genesis tells us that God brought the first man and the first woman together to help one another – to form what author Carolyn Custis James thoughtfully calls a “blessed alliance”.
So when I attend a wedding these days as a witness, as I did in a nearly 400-year-old church just two weeks ago, I look first for the foundation under the feet of the couple repeating their vows. If it is solid, as it is for my young friends Stephen and Maggie who wed in Connecticut, I have no fear that a Bad Luck Bridesmaid might be present. These two clearly have given their lives to Someone Else before they pledged them to each other.
Granted, shared faith is no guarantee of a long-term successful marriage. And Happily Ever After has more to do with where you will spend eternity than whom you live with on earth.
But when two people mutually work at submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ, they reduce the chance of “I do” becoming “I don’t anymore.”