I’ve attended three weddings this summer and had the privilege of singing at two of them. Weddings are lovely occasions; I love all the pomp and circumstance, not to mention the quite palpable sense of sacredness they evoke. Frequently during these ceremonies, I feel so very moved.
Several summers ago, I woke up on the morning of my own wedding day. I went to the place where my parents were staying, showered and shaved in their bathroom, and recall sunlight blanketing the white walls of their room. I remember them praying for me, putting their hands on my shoulders and releasing me to begin a new, distinct life apart from them. It was a moment of joy, encapsulated by my father saying “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
That day was the initial page in a story which took some truly terrible and painful turns. So terrible and painful, in fact, that I thought the resulting story would be the one by which my life would be forever defined. I suspected it would haunt me at each corner, crouching there and waiting to spill its guts into every thought and interaction. I believed that others would think me synonymous with this tale of woe – that even more than being haunted, I would be imprisoned by it, held captive within its pages.
As time has worn on, the power this story wields over me has diminished. When I first started recounting it, it took great lengths to traverse every ditch and canyon. I felt people needed a detailed survey of the entire landscape in order to know me and in retrospect, I see now that the story was authoring me; I was at its mercy. Over the course of months and years, my recounting (and I’ve told it more times than I could ever hope to remember) has become much more concise. The story, amazingly, has grown less and less relevant to who I am and where I’m going. Nonetheless, I never anticipated ridding myself of it entirely. I thought it would always be there on the shelf, ever visible even if not taken down and read.
I began this piece with the intention to disclose the details, once and for all, en masse. I have felt healed for quite some time now, but I suppose my intention was rooted in a hope that a public declaration would yield total freedom. As I sat down and began to write, however, something completely unexpected happened. I felt little to no desire to rehearse my story. I actually felt bored of it. In the most wonderful and amazing sense, all of a sudden it seemed so passé. As if it had somehow ceased being my story; as if it didn’t matter.
You see, I could tell you that I was married, that after a little over a year the person whom I married told me she wasn’t in love with me, that a year later she told me she’d been having an affair (for over a year), that I was willing to work through things and waited almost another year for her to return to the marriage, and that I finally asked for a divorce after she chose not to come to where I was (we were living in separate countries by this point) knowing that I’d let her go if she chose this. I could divulge gorier and more heart-wrenching details that you wouldn’t believe, and speak of the devastation, grief, and shame that overtook my life and discoloured my past, present, and future…
…but today, all of this doesn’t matter. I have at last reached (or realised I’ve reached) a distant shore which heretofore I only believed in. I am not my story. I don’t need it anymore and today, recalling my meta-narrative of agony leaves me with little more than a yawn. In short, so what if this happened? It is finished now. The old story has given way and another story – filled with things truly wonderful, new, and life-giving – is blooming in its place. To my family, friends, community, and everyone in between; to all those who have loved, supported, walked with, and prayed for me: I’m free. This, is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.