God created us, and he creates our desires to point us towards goodness, beauty, creation, and virtue. When we are attentive to our desires--both the lighthearted and the deepest desires of our hearts--Christ can teach us something about ourselves or about himself. (Or really about anything, because he is God.)
Does your season of engagement feel overwhelming and distracting due to stress or expectations of wedding planning? With a prayerful approach, the desires and details in our wedding planning can become a sacramental aspect within the sacrament of matrimony. When we seek God in our desires, the smallest wedding details can give visibility to a truth of our faith, to our relationship with Christ, or to the deeper desires of our hearts.
The sacramental aspect of our Catholic faith describes the ways physical objects make an invisible truth visible. For example, water is the physical object signifying the spiritual cleansing, or rebirth in Christ, through the sacrament of Baptism. In marriage, the first night together as husband and wife, and every act of love thereafter, makes tangible the unifying vows of the sacrament of Matrimony.
So how do we uncover the deeper meaning of our desires in wedding planning? How do we tune in to the songs our hearts are singing?
First, we have to know what we want. In the gospel of John, the first question Jesus asks is, “What do you want?” It’s not a selfish question to ask ourselves, especially when we are striving to know ourselves and know Christ in a pursuit of holiness.
Despite how clear your vision for your wedding day might be, consider pausing to journey into that vision with God. Invite God into your head and your heart and ask yourself, “What do I want to see at my wedding?” Note the first things that come to mind. Is it a specific flower, color scheme, or song? Is it a desired anticipation for how a moment will play out?
Perhaps a surprising answer will pop into your mind! In those moments, you can certainly say “hello” to the Holy Spirit who is guiding your heart.
Perhaps answering the question “what do I want?” is challenging. Is there a tinge of fear, anxiety, or apprehension that bubbles to the surface of your heart when you try to dive in that deeply? If so, keep going, trust the Lord, keep Him close; He wants to show you something good! Rather than fearing the fear itself and suppressing those feelings, take Mary or Jesus’ hand and prayerfully walk into those desires.
Second, take to Christ whatever comes to mind and let him begin to unfold the mystery of your heart. A prayer as simple as, “Okay, Jesus. I want ____ at my wedding. I imagine ____ at my wedding. What is it about ____ am I attracted to? I ask you to reveal something deeply beautiful about these desires to me.”
God might reveal these answers to you in that exact moment of prayer, or maybe over a series of days. Maybe he will withhold his response until the wedding day, or even weeks after when you’re turning back through pictures. Regardless of how he answers this prayer in his timing, he hears you. He is with you in your desires. The things we are attracted to are ways God romances us towards his goodness, his beauty, his creation, and his love.
We want more than we think we want.
Even after the wedding day has come and gone, this conversation with Christ is one we can continue in any season of life.
In my most recent personal experience, praying through my desires was an effort to clarify if my desire was from God or from my own selfishness. When my husband and I moved overseas, it took over two months for our belongings to arrive from the United States to our new (and first) home. The time of waiting tested my patience and led to my restless wanting of our stuff. In the past, I’ve done well with traveling out of a backpack and maintaining a relatively simple profile, so this deep feeling of need for my things was surprising to me.
On the one hand, it takes a personal touch to create a home. We were living on rental furniture and bare walls; I desired our personalized bookshelves and coffee mugs and photographs. I desired to create a home with my husband.
But on the other hand, I was tempted to shame in those desires because I was being “too materialistic” and “too selfish” and “too needy.” The latter experience led me to my knees in a prayer to see God in those desires.
He shattered the glass of my temptation to self-shame. In his most gentle and straight-forward way, God first allowed me to speak my fears: “I feel like I am a bad Christian if I want my stuff.” Nearly instantly thereafter, he provided a sanctifying clarity: it’s not the stuff for the sake of having stuff I desire, but the love, joy, memory, journey, hope, and faith that those things represent. A home is a place of hospitality, rest, unity, and love; beyond the desire for “stuff” is a beautiful desire for a home.
And beyond the desire for a home is a desire for our eternal home, heaven. The ache for what I want now opened my perspective to what I want forever.
My patience was restored and the process of building our first home has filled my heart with gratitude and hope for all the goodness to come--both in this life and in heaven.
Oftentimes, the details we want to see on our wedding day are a manifestation of our heart’s yearning for beauty and virtue and love. Through the gift of free will, God will patiently wait to show us those deeper layers of our hearts until we ask him to show us. When we invite him into our wedding planning--the season of preparation toward the vocation to a sacrament of marriage--he will undoubtedly show up and love on us as he does so well.
He has already shown up by inviting you into this sacrament--one of the beautiful ways he reveals his love for his people! Why would he stop there? Our God is a God of infinity.
What does he want to show you? What does he have to teach you? What beauty can be revealed as we journey through wedding planning and decision making processes with Christ by our side?
May the journey continue for you with infinite beauty and surprise.