It all began when Ken and I were married back in September of 1996. We were both working for a church that was neither Wesleyan nor Nazarene. The pastor of that church, our boss, insisted that he perform our wedding ceremony, instead of my father (who is ordained in the Wesleyan church) because, “Weddings are a religious ceremonies, not family affairs.” What could I say? I was brokenhearted, but he was my boss. The pastor told me I could only have one song in our wedding. He attempted to control every detail. He spread untrue gossip about Ken and I around the church, and shared information that had been discussed confidentially with whoever he wanted to know. He was rude to me, my friends, and my relatives.
Then, only six weeks after we were married, Ken and I left the church after finding out some unseemly details about the pastor’s life– multiple affairs, embezzlement, fraud, death threats, etc. When we tried to explain to the church board what we knew of the pastor, but they didn’t want to hear our story or see our evidence. They reluctantly “allowed us to resign,” and gave us 10 days to get out of our parsonage. “How dare you accuse a man of God of such things,” they scorned. We were homeless, penniless, and Ken lost his permission to work in the United States until we could refile for another immigration visa (which took nearly a year). A month after we left that church, we found out that the pastor had subsequently confessed to immoral and illegal activities— what we knew of and more. We never received an apology or even an acknowledgement from the church, the denomination, or that pastor. And “that pastor” got an extensive paid sabbatical, and a promotion to a larger church in another area of the country.
All that to say, our wedding day ended up not being the fairy tale day that every girl dreams about. It was supposed to be the one happiest days of my life, the one day that was about us, the bride and groom, but it was forever marred by a man who shouldn’t have even been in the picture, except that he invited himself to be there. I never even ordered pictures. I tried not to think about my wedding day. The important thing was that Ken and I were married. There is so much more to a marriage than the wedding day, but a part of me was always a little sad that I couldn’t look back on the day with untainted joy.
However, in 2002, the week of our sixth anniversary, as I was starting to teach a Thursday morning lab section at Indiana Wesleyan, Ken walked in the door of my classroom wearing a tuxedo, with a videographer tow. Ken came to the front of the classroom, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him all over again, as he presented me with a diamond necklace.
I said yes.
I went home for lunch with my mind racing through the details. What would I wear? Ken handed me a box from my mother, who had bought me a re-wedding dress. Flowers had been ordered. Bridesmaids and groomsmen had been arranged. Music was chosen. Wedding cake was ordered. Ken had taken care of every detail. Our current pastor, whom we dearly loved, agreed to perform the ceremony.
That Sunday night, in front of friends and students from Indiana Wesleyan and our college ministry, the Search, Ken and I renewed our vows. We snapped new pictures. We ate cake with new friends. We recommitted ourselves to lives devoted to each other.
Ken gave me the most precious gift imaginable: joyful wedding memories. I had not asked for a re-wedding, but he wanted me to look back on our wedding with delight, because he believes that every bride should have her special day.
Today, I’m especially thankful for my husband who has the integrity to stand for what is right, even when it meant losing our jobs and our home. I’m thankful for a husband who loves the Lord more than he loves me. And I’m thankful for a husband who reminds me every day that I am his beautiful bride.