An Alabama Wedding

Love, Mercy, and Southern Heat

I’ve been on a writing break for several weeks, and today is probably the first time I’ve even entertained a return to writing. Who has the mental space for writing amid college move-ins, back-to-school supply lists and—most glorious of all—a wedding?

August in the South is always a weird kind of heat. The sun is now packing its bags, beginning its slow retreat to the southern hemisphere, but its steamiest baggage remains. One may sweat more in August than in the first two summer months combined. Crickets sing all day to remind us that summer’s not over; they’re enjoying the quiet heat that has worn out its welcome with the rest of us. Yet we sense deliverance drawing near; shadows are lengthening, the sun’s rays are backing away, and dusk falls sooner on the fully cooked fields.

Who imagines having an outdoor wedding in such conditions, and in the heart of Dixie? We did, and I must report that it was a swelteringly fabulous evening. I mean this sincerely; to witness a fully-adorned bride dancing to Alan Jackson at the end of a hot, cloudless day—and in the middle of hundreds of rolling Alabama acres—is an exquisite joy. Everyone in my family took a spin.

What made this wedding special wasn’t just the girl-meets-boy love story. It was a picture of patient hope, a feast of faith, and a reminder that God loves to shower his beloved with good gifts. If you’re in the weeds with a stumbling teen or a heavy-hearted child, it’s hard to imagine the giddy late-night talks, the chivalrous man who will treasure her one day, and the bridal gown swinging happily in the middle of a bucolic farm. Hang in there.

For my part, I am exhausted in a good way. We sent our third child to college, and we married our first, all within a month. How did we suddenly find our children in wedding finery, encircling their oldest sister in her glorious white, with her looking every bit the radiant woman we prayed she would become? It is God’s doing, and with that mystery comes our joy.

The little birds will leave the nest, building their own from the land that surrounds them—and for my first, that means the Deep South, where simple wisdom finds its way into our beloved country music. We southerners can throw some fancy parties, but we still take pleasure in simple truths:

Two young people without a thing
Say some vows and spread their wings
And settle down with just what they need
Livin’ on love

Thank you, Alan Eugene Jackson, for blessing our celebration with country joy.

This originally appeared on Restoring Truth.