Yesterday I had the great honor of officiating the marriage ceremony of my baby cousin Jamie and his lovely new wife, Shawnie. (Yes, I know that he's taller than me and a grown man, but he's the youngest of our group of first cousins who grew up together in NY.) It was such a beautiful day and a very special moment for me personally and in ministry. This was my very first time officiating and the fact that I was doing so for my cousin made this particular function of my ministry that much more spectacular. There came a point in the ceremony when I had to offer them words of encouragement and pray for them out of the earshot of the congregation. It was at that point, when I had my hand on top of their hands holding each other and their eyes were intently on me as they laughed and cried simultaneously, that I felt the full weight of responsibility concerning my role that day. In that moment I felt privileged that they trusted me enough to be the vessel that helped to usher them into their new life together. Leading each of them in the reciting of their vows, and hearing them do so up close, caused me to reflect on my own vows as well as the day that I as a young twenty-something made the same vow of covenant almost nine years ago. Now as I look back, I realize that we didn't have a clue as to the fullness of the commitment we were making although I still believe we made the right decision. We were as prepared as God would have had us to be, but some things you only come to know by experience. Almost nine years later I have come to know that while I am happy in my marriage, it is even more true that I have become more holy because of its challenges. The moments that I felt the vows were way too difficult to fulfill brought me to a place of desperation, a desperation that forced me to totally depend on God. Doing so, helped me to become more myself and to more clearly define who I wanted to be. As my view of myself became (and continues to become) clearer, then I was able to be a better wife and best friend. Isn't it ironic, it took a lifelong commitment to a man to help me to learn that I had to decide who I wanted to be for myself and not depend on anyone else (including my husband) to show me who I'm supposed to be. Knowing myself- my strengths, my gifts, my passions- has helped me to love, not more but better.
Before I go, can a sistah get some love for the shoes. Years ago when God called me into ministry, one of my main concerns was that I did not want to look matronly or lose my femininity in order to answer my call. God uses everything you are for God's own purposes; after all God was the one who created you. God continues to use my appreciation for shoes and fashion as a way of connecting to other women who may hold old stereotypical perceptions of what it means to live for God, and how that looks. Well Ladies, for me it means being true to who you are and yesterday it looked like red stilettos. The day I got ordained, the Bishop preached a message called "Wear Your Own Clothes". I do believe I did just that because those shoes, my robe, and the red one shoulder 60's style dress that was under the robe had my whole name written on it ;-).