Saturday, June 5, 2010

My First Time

In most churches regardless of denomination, love is in the air. In times like these, I naturally think back to my first time. It was many years ago, but I have never forgotten her. She was only 15 years old - so young that her parents had to agree to it. I'll call her Cindy because her name was Cindy. She came into my office and asked me to do something I had never done before, but I wanted to do it because I had heard so many other people talk about it. I'll admit it: I was nervous. It wasn't exactly what I expected. Afterwards I was a little bit depressed, but at least I could go to the next clergy meeting and not feel inadequate. I was ready to do it again. I knew I would get better at it with more practice.
Cindy was only 15 years old when I performed her wedding. She was just a kid, and so was her 18 year old husband to be. He had joined the military, and they wanted to start a new life together. She told me she wasn't pregnant. The ceremony took place in a small chapel/class room at the church I was serving as an associate pastor. About ten people were in attendance. Afterwards, I helped her sisters scoop sherbet into a punch bowl for their tiny reception. I remember I broke the punch ladle trying to use it as a scooper. The whole thing seemed depressing to me. A wedding in a classroom attended by ten people. A couple too young to be making such a significant life commitment. But one of her sisters opened my eyes when she said to me somewhat wistfully: "I wish I had had a nice church wedding like this one." She was serious, and I was put in my place. Her wedding had been at the courthouse with no family at all. Her comments made me aware of how my perception of something can be very different than that of someone else. I had been insensitive for not seeing how beautiful the experience was for that family. I have needed that lesson many times during my years in ministry. I have needed to look at things from someone else's perspective and value how they saw it. So every time I meet with a couple about their wedding, I remember Cindy. I remember my first time. She has had a greater impact on me than she could have imagined. I hope they lived happily ever after.