The Day I Didn't Say "I Do"
By Brittany McKenzie
August 31, 2009
Approximately seven months ago, I thought my heart was going to break in two. I wasn't sure if I would ever make it to tomorrow, or the next day, or the next. Because, up until this point, I have had my life completely figured out. I started kindergarten when I was five, junior high when I was 12, high school when I was 15 and college when I was 18. I'm 22 now, nearing 23. So, you see, my life has been pretty systematic for about 21 years. From as far back as I can remember, I have dreamed, as many little girls do, of growing up, of being beautiful and my favorite, of being in love. Yes, I imagined a knight in shining armor who battled for me, his princess. He vowed to fight to the death, and declared his love for me, if only I would promise to make him my own. And then, once my knight proved his love by defeating his opponent, he did not stand for the crowd to praise and adore him. No, he walked straight to me, and kept his eyes fixed to mine. He bowed on one knee and lowered his head with great respect. His eyes met mine, once again, and he asked for my hand forever. I accepted and we had a “Cinderella” wedding and lived happily ever after.
And then, I’d wake up.
But being married is something I have longed for and desired from the earliest days of my childhood. And, it just seemed fitting that once I graduated from college, my next step would be marriage. I got engaged in December and my wedding date was set for July 19. I was wrapped up in college, basketball, my fiancé, and of course, my fairy tale wedding. I did all the normal, wonderful wedding stuff. I made list after list of my colors, flowers, songs, wedding party, gifts … you get the picture. The time passed. I graduated in May and moved home, where I would be married in my hometown church, and continued to plan.
My mom and I went dress shopping and found my dream dress. My colors were red and yellow. My cake was extravagant with staircases coming down from the main tier to two smaller tiers. Practically my entire family would be involved in the wedding one way or another. My mom would be my matron or mother-of-honor. My sisters-in-law would be two of my seven bridesmaids. One of my brothers would help officiate the wedding, and both of my brothers would be groomsmen. And, of course, my daddy would walk me down the aisle.
As you can tell, I was prepared and oh, how excited I was to put on that perfect dress and veil, with my beautiful jewelry and white flip-flops. Yes, I said flip-flops. I decorated them myself with a white ribbon and white miniature roses. I was so prepared for the big day and it was fast approaching.
As the day moved closer, a little over two weeks before my wedding to be exact, I realized I was not prepared to be a wife and say ‘I do’ forever. Big decision, I know. But, my fiancé and I had gone through some issues and experienced major life events that put our relationship to the test. We did not see eye-to-eye where it was vital that we should. I began to question what I was about to do and whether or not it was really what I wanted to do. The closer it got—the worse I felt. I was taking this covenant I was about to enter into, this life-long commitment, very seriously, as I should have been. Something just was not right and I knew I had to deal with it—and soon. I prayed and cried and I worried and rationalized. Finally, I told my fiancé we had to talk.I drove to his house, praying all the way. In a process that took around four hours, I told him. I told him I wanted to wait, and through my sobbing and streaming tears, I explained that I did not feel we were ready. Things were not in line as they should be, and there was no way I could walk that aisle with full confidence and assurance that this was God’s will and purpose for my or his life. After telling him (he did not take it very well, understandably so) I left. I cried out to my God the whole 45-minute drive home and pled and begged for answers. What would I do now? Why couldn’t I get married? Wouldn’t things work themselves out? Where would I live? I felt completely and utterly lost—like there was an enormous piece of my heart missing; a part of me had died and it felt too much to bear.
When I arrived home, my mom was still up, as she always is when I come in late. She could tell the second she saw my face that something was terribly wrong, yet she knew nothing of my plans to postpone the wedding that night. I threw myself in the floor and told her what I had done. Her heart broke for me and she and my dad would be huge factors in my healing process over the next few months of my life. It did not matter that we already had the cake, the dress, the flowers, the photographer, the videographer, ten dresses and shoes paid for, the reception area reserved and 400 picture wedding invitations mailed. I still had their full support. They knew I was doing what I felt in my heart was right. They knew I was following God’s plan for my life and that is what they also want for me.
The day after the decision was made, I did nothing. Well, I did nothing physically anyway, but the inner-turmoil taking place was enough to exhaust a person. My stomach hurt, my eyes stayed swollen from crying, my brain would not take a moment’s rest … and I began to second-guess my decision. Had I done the right thing? Was this really what God wanted me to do? Would I ever move on with my life? Would I ever get married? The next few days would prove to be ones of confusion and dismay. As I mentioned, my intention was only to wait, so that God could work things out between my fiancé and I. My fiancé got scared, however, and could not fathom that I would ever marry him since I decided not to at the time we originally planned. We split up completely and have not seen each other since, more than seven months now, and I am not sure we ever will again.
Once I decided my big day was really not going to take place, for now anyway, I got in gear. I had a lot of help from my mom and grandma with the calling and canceling process. Most everyone was very considerate and understanding and refunded our money. Because we had already sent out all of the invitations, we bought postcards and I wrote a short note explaining that the wedding was off- offering apologies for any inconvenience it may have caused. All of our wedding shower gifts (yes, we had already had both of our showers also) were being stored at my grandmother’s house. We had planned to move them into our own home before the wedding. I divided the gifts and let him take the ones from his family to deal with and I dealt with mine. I tell people now that I know how to plan a wedding and for anyone who needs advice, I know how to cancel one, too.
That decision to cancel my own wedding was the biggest decision (after the one to accept Jesus Christ into my heart) that I have ever made in my life. I thank God for leading me to that decision, and I know God’s hand was in it the entire time. He knew what He was doing and He knew that He had bigger and better plans for both my fiancé and I. And that is the purpose of sharing this story with you. I want you to know that it is never, and I mean never, too late to back out no matter how old you are. Even if you are standing at the altar beside your groom about to say, ‘I do,’ if you have reservation oran inkling of doubt, you should calmly and quietly express your feelings to your fiancé. I realize this would not be easy, but what is one small minute of embarrassment compared to facing a lifetime of unhappiness and regret for making a huge mistake? You do not have to settle for less than what God has for you. Set your standards and your goals high and never look back. God will honor that.
Since the start of my “new life” as a young, single woman, I have rediscovered myself and my God. I have learned to open my eyes and listen harder to what God is saying to me. It’s not that He makes it hard, but it’s that we only listen to what we want to hear sometimes. When we realize and understand that our Maker, the one who gave up His life for us so that we could have eternal life with Him, only wants good things for us and is deeply moved by us, then maybe we’ll stop compromising and accepting the things the world has to offer. I have made a decision. I no longer try to make my life happen. I love my Lord and Savior and I seek His face. I know He will lead me into all truth. He knows my heart and that I only want what He wants. He will not allow me to be destroyed. I may be pressed, but not crushed. I may be persecuted, but I am not abandoned. I may be struck down, but I am not and will not be destroyed.
God has brought me to a place of such fulfillment and contentment. My relationship with Him has become one of pure simplicity. Too often in the past, I have made it harder than it needs to be. Now, I come before Him, bare and wounded in my fleshly, human body, much the way I did when I thought I would die seven months ago, and I say, “Here I am, Lord. I give you what I have to offer and that is my heart and my life.” Every single time, without exception, He sweeps me off my feet and lavishes His love upon me. He tells me He would fight and did fight to the death just for me. He is forever mine … and I realize that He, Jesus, really is all I need.
The Lord has shown me that He is the key ingredient. He is what it takes to make a marriage happy, successful and one that will last. A marriage on earth should exemplify the relationship the Lord desires to have with us. We, His people, are His bride, and He is our groom. So … I wait. I wait for what my Jesus has prepared for me, expecting the greatest thing. My Lord has placed a love inside of me for my earthly husband and family, and when it’s time, I will be ready. I’ll walk down that aisle with complete assurance, confidence, respect and humility. I will know that this day was ordained by the Creator of the Universe before the foundation of the world, and I’ll say … 'I Do!’