I was recently reminded that I abandoned my blog last week with an embarrassing story as the top post. Oops. As previously mentioned, my life these days revolves around Mondays, when I have a big exam, so after I wrote that post on Wednesday, my life became a cyclone of reaction-cramming and wedding prep. Yes, wedding prep. I was in a friend’s wedding on Saturday, too! But now they are married, and it was a fun wedding, and because she lives pretty far away from me, it was great to see her and catch up with some old college friends.

But the weddings of late have really struck me, and I don’t know whether I am going to do this justice, but I am going to try. Prior to last weekend, I had never been to a wedding where God was not invoked in some way. Maybe I live in a cave, but usually God is involved in the wedding script somehow – not necessarily in the standard Christian sense, but, you know, in the sense that there is some higher being who has a role in the sustenance of the couple’s relationship. I mean, in our wedding, we placed rings on each other’s fingers in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, read scripture, and called upon God to bless our union – but I’m not even talking about that. I’ve been to lots of weddings where it was just that we thank God for bringing these people together, ask for His blessing, and move on. A totally amorphous Judeo-Christian-tradition kind of God.

But it turns out that last weekend, I popped my higher-power-at-weddings cherry (was that a terrible way to put that?) and a deity of any kind was not mentioned once. Not at all. It was a very nice ceremony, and the bride and groom were obviously very in love, very excited to be together, and they absolutely glowed, but the person conducting the ceremony did not once mention a supreme being…at all. They did read from the OT (which makes sense, since the couple is Jewish), but otherwise…nope. And the reading was from Song of Solomon, which is about *sex* (yes, Virginia, they really talk about sex in the Bible) and it was not really an invocation of God, but more of a nice poem about love and relationships. And it was nice, but it wasn’t faith.

And my friend, this weekend…no God/god/gods mentioned. In fact, the broad element of “faith” was markedly absent. The officiant asked us to bow our heads and think positive thoughts about the couple, and they placed rings on each other’s fingers in the name of…love. For each other and for themselves.  It, too, was a beautiful ceremony, and there were very few dry eyes in the audience by the end of it – the absence of faith does not mean the ceremony is devoid of any emotion.  But it was very clear that the ceremony was a celebration of the couple’s relationship and future marriage, not accredited to any third party.

(As an aside, I have a very descriptive face, and I was petrified that my facial expression would be inappropriate as I processed some of this in front of all of her guests, so I tried Very Hard to smile! the! whole! time! So I am praying to my God that I do not look like a giddy drunken idiot up there. I realize that no one looks at the bridesmaids, but then again, when I am a guest, I do. So let’s all just hope, shall we? Only the pictures will tell…at least, in any event, it is better than the “I-am-thinking-hard” face, which apparently is not a good one, so I’ve been told.)

I have kind of a long faith history, so while I would say that my views on my faith and beliefs are fairly well-defined *now*, I would also assert that I am, perhaps, more open-minded than others who might share my beliefs. I know of people who would be appalled that it was not just God missing at the cermony, but Jesus as well, and while *I* can say that we would have been horrified if Jesus was missing from *our* ceremony, as we credit Him fully for the fact that we met and fell and love and got married, I would never expect that for others. People are in different places in their faith journeys – and that includes people who are ardently moving further into atheism. I get that.

But at the same time, I didn’t realize how much it would bother me, either. Maybe it’s because the last few weeks have been really tough for us. DB came home 3.5 weeks ago, it was very exciting, and two hours after I picked him up, I went to class. And then I studied…and studied…and studied. When I did see him, I was either rushing to get to class or exhausted and cranky (Feeling stupid + no sleep = crankiness. I am actually okay with either of those in isolation, but the combination makes me truly a miserable person to be around). And when we could talk, it was like the bad phone conversations from when he was deployed just continued…he had just spent 3.5 months doing things he can’t talk about, and my entire life revolves around little squiggly lines and 20-year olds living in dorms. It’s been a frustrating time.

(I cannot imagine what it is like for spouses of the military, who are deployed for 12-15 months. As I’ve said numerous times before, I am in no way trying to compare my experience to that one, which is unbelievably challenging. This is only *my* experience, for us.)

The only way we have been able to get through the challenge – the long absences (this is not the first, but it will certainly be the last for a while), the re-entry, the squabbling and bickering and tears and frustration – is through prayer. And I know that sounds hollow to those who are not believers. Really, I do.

I pray.

DB prays.

Sometimes we pray together.

We ask God to help us get through whatever it is that is a struggle.

And actually, just to be clear, I don’t think it’s *our* prayers that let us get through the tough times, because honestly, we (DB and I) don’t pray nearly enough. (Who does? Ok, I know, many people. We don’t.) But I do think that it is God’s presence in our lives, in our relationship, that makes it work, that makes us whole, and sustains our relationship.

Or, to put it another way: I have no idea how we would have made it without Him. And we don’t credit Him nearly enough.

We absolutely adore each other, and DB is my best friend, and he would say that I am his, and our love is very strong, but love is just not enough.

I don’t know if what I am saying makes sense. I am FULLY aware that MOST couples do not share our faith, and I would not try to force our faith (or anyone else’s faith) on others. But I do think that one’s faith – or lack thereof – is a critical component of our lives. That sounds so cheap, so I’ll try again: My faith defines my worldview: how I see strangers on the public transit system, how I see my friends, how I see my family, how I see my spouse, how I see my path in the world. Having a lack of defined faith similarly defines one’s worldview – humans are spiritual beings, and just because one professes to *not* believe in a faith system does not mean that their worldview is not shaped by extrinsic forces. The differences really lie in whether the person acknowledges the factors that shape his/her worldview.

So when I watched these ceremonies, I guess I was struck by envisioning a marriage without a faith basis. As I said, I realize that there are many, many, many, MANY happy marriages that do not ever discuss or encounter or embrace or acknowledge faith whatsoever, and I also realize that there are many dissolved marriages of faith. I get it. But it just seemed to me that God* is always going to be in these ceremonies, whether He’s invoked or not. Shouldn’t we acknowledge His role?

I guess it does bother me a little.

Discuss! 🙂

*When I wrote this, I meant the Judeo-Christian God. OK, I meant my god. But I don’t want this to be limited to only my god. What I am trying to write about is not necessarily my god, but the “higher power” endorsed by the anonymous help groups (a la AA, NA, etc). And I kind of think that something like that should be included in weddings, or explicitly noted to be excluded by the couple.

And I am totally exhausted, so if this a) is offensive, or b) doesn’t make sense, please blame me and do not assume anything about my faith or people who share it. Thanks!

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