On a sweltering day in June, at just 17-years-old, I stepped through the double doors in the back of the Baptist church that had long been Layne’s home church and was greeted by the curious but smiling faces of nearly 500 guests, many of whom, I knew, were only there to witness two young kids make a huge mistake.
This wasn’t just conjecture on my part. Since the announcement of our engagement, Layne and I had each received an overabundance of advice ranging from concern to outright rebuke. We were too young; the Lord would never lead us in this way; it would never work. I had been hesitant to have such a large, public wedding. But Layne felt that with all God had so mercifully done to redeem and restore our situation, it was cause for celebration, and he wanted to do it right. I nervously made my way to the altar on my father’s arm, smiled and waved to Hannah, now six months old, who had just completed her role as flower girl in a wagon pulled down the aisle by a groomsman, and took my place next to Layne, ready to follow God’s leading and become his wife.
We had developed a deep friendship in the months leading up to the wedding, discovering that without all of the drama created by the unholy nature in which our relationship began, we really enjoyed each other’s company. We could converse for hours on every topic under the sun. I was fascinated by the way he thought and inspired by how deep his faith ran. He was pleasantly surprised to find that I now possessed an unrelenting hunger to know the Lord and a fervent desire to follow wherever he would lead. As we recited our vows, we did so under the reassuring knowledge that God himself had “joined us together” and would forever be the foundation on which our union was established.
The road would not always be a smooth one, however. There would be quite a bit of arguing, being two of the most strong-willed, stubborn people who could ever have been paired. There would still be a lot of growing up to do, and there were ways in which the accelerated course necessary for our circumstances would prove detrimental. There would be times when wounds from our individual pasts, including those inflicted by one another early on, would come back to haunt us and lead us into deeper places of hurt. There would be moments when we wished we could walk away, instances when we weren’t sure we could go on. But throughout, there has remained an abiding confidence in the One who, despite our wandering, was pleased to give us the blessing of marriage, and, by his good and perfect will, has faithfully kept and sustained us.
Based on a pop culture trope that started with the sitcom Friends, Layne has often referred to me throughout our marriage as “his lobster”—his mate for life. Unfortunately, the writers of that show were misinformed about the mating habits of lobsters, but the sweet sentiment between us still endures. Layne and I live with the constant awareness that we should not have the marriage we now enjoy. The naysayers were right. It shouldn’t have worked. Only God can take two and make of them one flesh in mysterious and glorious display of the union between Christ and his Bride.
“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”Psalm 126:3