Sixteen years ago today I woke up as Melissa Diane Golter. Sure, I had scribbled Melissa Diane Hutsell on folders and paper of all sorts but it wasn't official...yet. I awoke very early that day as our ceremony was to be an early afternoon ceremony. When I woke up the house was quiet. My dad unfortunately was not living at home...that's another story. My step mom had already left to get her hair done. And my sister lived on her own. So I sunk down into a hot bubble bath prepared to ready myself to be a bride. Much attention was given to details such as my delicately painted fingernails in a light pink frosty shade. I wanted my ring to be the star...not my fingers! Then my bag was packed...for the last time in that bedroom where I spent all of my high school years.
Then it was on to the church. We were going to do photographs separately as much as we could then do the photos of us together after the ceremony. So I arrived early to have my sister put my hair up in a french twist...as she had done for nearly every prom or homecoming dance all through high school. In fact, I remember well the first homecoming dance after she left for college and how awful my hair looked! Never again! I employed her services thereafter whenever I wanted to be glam-fabulous! My hair looked beautiful...though mostly hidden by the veil that my friend and bridesmaid Kristi made with me-well, mostly for me. I wanted it to look like a crown and to have a blusher. I dreamed of the moment that my dad would pull back the blusher and give me away. So, Kris and I bought a large headband at the craft store, turned it on its side and hot glued silky while fabric to it and sequins and beads and voila...a crown of silk! I remember a picture of me with my sheer white French garter hosiery, my garter in a pale blue so as to honor the "something blue" and my tiny white lingerie. Ahem...it would never fit me now...but that is also another story...in fact, one involving six small boys that emerged from that once tiny body and forever made it not so tiny. But, I digress. Anyway...I was tiny in those pictures. Then, it was time to put on THE DRESS.
The dress was my dream dress. I had ventured to many a store in search of the perfect dress. I tried on so many pretty dresses. My step mom and I finally visited a warehouse of sorts filled with discount dresses. No hoopla...no special treatment...no nice store. Just racks and racks of dresses in bags and ONE large dressing room with mirror covered walls. I dragged many dresses in but it wasn't until I began looking about the room at what others were trying on that I saw IT. Another girl was wearing this beautiful ivory dress with big puffy shoulders and see-through lace on the chest. I wanted it! In white of course...but all the same...it was perfect. I am so happy to this day that I chose that dress. The lace on the chest was delicate but it came up high enough that I never had to worry about bending over. I felt gorgeous in it. When I put it on...all of my girlhood dreams were coming true!
We took all of the bride and bridesmaid pictures. There was a certain giddiness and silliness that I felt inside as I knew Keith was in the building somewhere and that we were hiding ourselves for that special reveal. Then it was time. My dad and I were suddenly alone in the foyer. Just my daddy and me. All of the bridesmaids were entered into the sanctuary. My dad pulled the blusher over my face. I instructed him carefully on how to pull it back. We practiced. I wanted NO chance that he would accidentally pull it back and leave me with a big jutting protrusion from the back of my head if the veil didn't lie flat! (something that would have happened to my dad who was NOT a man of detail!) Then the bridal march began. I felt nervous. Very nervous. My dad was cool as a cucumber. He whispered..."Slow down..." I slowed down. This was my moment. His too I guess...giving his daughter away. Then suddenly there we were....face to face...my groom and me. Keith was a young, fresh-faced man. We both were so young...nearly 22 in fact. He was beaming. Vows were said, candles were lit, a tender kiss was given and we were married!
Reflecting on it now I realize...that young girl spent that entire ceremony thinking about the ceremony...the flowers were HEAVY. My gorgeous live bouquet weighed a TON. It was so heavy in fact that the handle snapped and was being held in place by a Barbie band-aid! Literally, my forearm was aching for days afterward from holding it. It was worth it. I was thinking about the blunders that our pastor made...innocent blunders. I was thinking of the reception and the cake. Foolish, I know. But, I had done all of the planning by myself. I was exhausted. My 21 year old mind could NOT grasp the solemnity of the moment. How could I have? For better or for worse? Who can know what that better...or that worse will look like? Who can really promise at 21 to love, honor, cherish, and obey through sickness and health till death do we part? I couldn't. I just wanted to be married to Keith. I wanted the wedding to last forever. It didn't. And soon enough we were off to a honeymoon and a life filled with bests and worsts. Pretty quickly our naivete showed through and our innocence was blown clean out of the water. Satan came for our marriage pretty quickly. But , I will say...my innocence...my belief that my marriage would last held us through many a storm. Well, that and the Lord Jesus.
I wish that girl could have known how the vow to love through all that life brings would be tested to its full...and that she would come out victorious! I wish that she could have stopped and really looked into her groom's eyes and seen the future there. A future of commitment and love that he really did have for her. I wish that I could have laid aside the wedding and focused on the marriage that was being made there. It was a precious, solemn moment and I think I missed it. But perhaps a marriage is made along the way and not in one moment. Perhaps if we knew what we were promising we would have turned tail and RAN! I think I would have! I could have never known the depth of love that I would feel for that man in front of me. I would have never dreamed of how God would make us parents SIX times over. I would have never dreamed of sharing in ministry with him. I would have missed the grief...the tears and the pain dealt by our own hands and by devastating losses had that moment not come. But I also would have missed the joy. The complete, full, God-honoring joy.
I do remember God laying so heavily on my heart when he brought Keith into my life that he was to be my mate. I KNEW that Keith was God's man for me. I am so thankful for that solid promise that was put in my heart so clearly because when the storms came I felt a solid ROCK under my feet. God has been so faithful. When Keith and I have failed each other...and will fail each other again....God has been ever so faithful. How that makes my heart glad. I can face whatever comes. Bests and worsts, richer and poorer are still ahead. Death do us part is still etched in stone. I wouldn't trade a single day. The love the Father has lavished on me through my groom of 16 years is far more than I could have EVER asked or imagined. I love you Keith...more every day...more every year. To GOD be the glory!