I remember that day well… In fact I remember that day very well. It was Saturday 3rd of September 2005. I woke up really early. But is that even true? Because I rarely slept the night before. I stayed up almost all night. First, texting with my soon to be husband and when I finally got him off the phone, with the assurance that he was going straight to bed I realised I could not sleep. The ladies whom my mum had hired to cook were chattering singing, cutting, stirring, frying, stewing and causing a major commotion just behind the window of my bedroom. After a while, satisfied that they had done all the major work necessary to ensure that food would arrive at the reception on time, they went off to bed… But I still could not sleep.
Everyone was asleep but I still could not sleep. Excitement? Maybe but not quite. Butterflies in my tummy? Not exactly. It’s funny but now that I think back shouldn’t that have been what kept me awake? Romantic that I am I would love to say I couldn’t wait to walk down the aisle and say my “I dos” so my darling and I could live happily ever after but if truth be told that wasn’t what kept me awake. I actually remember that day so well, No! That’s not what kept me awake.
I wasn’t unsure or anything like that. If there was anything I was sure about in my life: this was it! God had spoken more than once and confirmed with signs following and I was marrying my BEST friend. I hadn’t been this bare and unashamed with anybody else in all my life: No secrets, No fears, No may-be’s. I was sure. I didn’t have to be perfect with him just truthful. He loved me- warts and all 😉 He knew I was special and never missed an opportunity to tell me or anyone else who cared to hear for that matter. I knew I was marrying MY husband. I knew it like I knew my name irrespective of what certain *ehrm.. clearing my throat* false prophets had to say *story for another day folks* I knew this was it.
Anyhow, before I knew it morning was here. Family, friends and foes alike trooped in from every corner. Someone doing my makeup, another doing my hair, an aunty going on about why my dress was so simple and an uncle complaining about me not getting married in my parent’s church. I said nothing because I had more on my mind. I was helped into my dress by a dear cousin to the sound of oohs and aahs! My mum came in and smiled at the finished product -me: the blushing bride but not before telling me how unreasonable I was being for not carrying a bouquet. I remember saying nothing in response not because I didn’t have a million reasons why I didn’t want or need a bouquet but because that seemed so trivial in the grand scheme of things. I remember… Yes I remember that day so well.
Ushered into the black sequoia 2003 model with my father who completely agreed with me that a fan was more reasonable than a bouquet *oops! Mum was never supposed to hear that* Off to church went and despite the light traffic, we made it in time.
In fact a little too early as the wedding preceding mine was just ending. While in the car, I had my phone on and a call came through, a friend? Hmm… Not sure what to call him now. He called to say that he was at my parents church and there was no record of my wedding. “Oh!” I said “there must be some kind of misunderstanding. I am wedding in a different denomination”. Silence! I remember it so well… Then he said to me: “You are a disgrace. I will never step foot into that wedding if you are not marrying in this church.” I said nothing. I simply hung up the phone and said nothing. But I smiled because some people honestly think they are more important than they really are. Not be at my wedding? What a laugh! So I laughed. One less mouth to feed. He wasn’t the groom, he wasn’t the pastor, he wasn’t even my father. I still laugh because I remember it so well. He didn’t speak to me for three years *talk about drinking panadol for another man’s headache*
Then my father held out his arm. It was time. I was sweating like a Christmas chicken. *wait where do we get these expressions from? Do chicken’s even sweat?* Ok maybe they sweat and it doesn’t show then that description would be appropraite as I was really sweating or at least I thought I was but it didn’t show. I made it to the front without tripping thankfully! Then I sat beside my prince and he looked at me with a side glance then looked straight ahead and whispered “you look beautiful”. He does those things you know, he has a way of saying one liners that make you feel on top of the world while pretending that the big grin on your face has nothing to do with him 🙂
I smiled and I suddenly realized I had been holding my breath. I had forgotten the one thing my head had been saying to me all night: “just keep breathing, no matter what happens today as long as you keep breathing, you’ll be fine”.
Then the part that kept me awake all night. You see the whole courtship period had been like a master class in hearing God. At every point in time God was preparing me for that day and the rest of my life (in this marriage). First he said to me “your ministry and money are tied to the man you marry” Ah! Then he said “the reason why there’s so much drama around who you choose to marry is because of the things I want to do with your marriage.” All year long or should I say more accurately all nine months long it had been one drama or the other “not this one”, “then this one”, then a “prophet” comes along and says “No! NOT HIM God told me NOT HIM!” and while he was yet speaking God says TO ME (seeing as He is not a gossip) “I have not sent him, the prophet prophesies lies”. *you don’t understand abi? Don’t worry buy the movie* 😀 but seriously I went through a series of stuff that made me know that there was more to September 3rd 2005 than the two of us could ever imagine.
I stood at that altar remembering all God had said, literally shaking at the thought of the adventure God had set before me and shaking more at the thought of who I was going on this adventure with – sold out, dogged man of faith who would do whatever and give whatever for the gospel. Did I dare? Could I? Was I strong enough? Was I everything God said I was? “Hadassah” he whispered (by the way that’s what God calls me when he speaks to me) “today you meet your king. You were born for such a time as this”. I shuddered. The pastor was saying something but the words meant nothing. All I could hear was the voice of God. “Hadassah, your treasure is in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of me not of you”. Could I? Why did God have so much faith in me? Hot tempered, often moody, easily offended, easily angered, unforgiving, can’t stand rubbish, not exactly friendly, mind your business, perfectionist me? Then the pastor moved closer to me and whispered “Mildred I will stop this ceremony now if you don’t stop shaking and pull yourself together”. I remember it all so well, I remember taking a deep breath and saying “No sir, continue. I’m fine” My king oblivious to what I was going through at that point gave me a quizzical look and mouthed with a half smile, ‘you don’t want to marry again?’ I just smiled a weak smile and the service continued.
“…Do you Kingsley Chukwuka Okonkwo take Mildred Isioma Chijide to be your lawful wedded wife…” I do he answered boldly. Loud and clear. Pastor turns to me, must he ask me too? What if I can’t help or submit or love and cherish… and all the other things God expected me to do? Must I promise in front of everyone?
You see by saying I do, I knew the easiest part would be loving Kingsley. He’s a gem, a real treasure. The hard part was that by saying “I do” I had just told the whole world that I would live by God’s principles at all times whether I felt like it or not, no double standards; that I would make sacrifices that I may not be prepared for. That I would counsel at odd hours with people who already knew what they wanted to do. That I would accept insults, betrayals, false accusations, heart ache and lots of sleepless nights thinking about other people’s issues. By saying “I do”, I had agreed to be lied to, gossipped about and ridiculed because I would now by becoming a pastor’s wife be living in a glass house. I had promised to carry my cross and love without retaliation for things I considered wrong done to me; after all a woman of God must not strife. I had promised to stand by him through betrayals, disloyalties, debts, and other tribulations that would come from the brethren and the accuser of the brethren. By saying I do I knew the things I was signing up for and being the perfectionist that I am, all I could think about was “Can I do this?” But then the excellency of the power of God kicked in *mood music changes now in the movie and if you’re watching this would be a good time to say ‘ghen ghen!” 😀 I remember strength from God alone and I said “I DO!” We exchanged vows, rings and kisses and we were pronounced MAN AND WIFE.
Then the pastor asked us to sit for a while and asked us to turn our bibles to John 2 from verse 1 … I remember it all so well. He must have preached for about twenty minutes but the crux of the message confirmed my biggest fears. Mary the mother of Jesus said, “Whatever He tells you to do, do it.” The pastor reiterated it WHATEVER Jesus tells you to do, DO IT. WHATEVER…DO IT! WHATEVER….DO IT! Hmmm…. I remember it so well.
Its been seven years now and I still remember that day like it was yesterday. I remember that day and I thank God for that day. I thank God that I put my faith in him to give me the grace to be suitable for and adaptable to this amazing man I now call my husband. It has been an awesome journey with the good, the bad, the…great and the amazing. and I’m truly grateful for the voice of faith that rose up boldly in me that day when I boldly declared to the World and more importantly to God and to kingsley “I DO!” When all I really wanted to do was timidly whisper, “…er I’ll try”.
There have been tests but there have been many more testimonies. There have been trails but we have always triumphed. All the things I feared have shown up but they are minimal in comparison to the blessings that have come our way in the form of sons and daughters in the faith and if truth be told, when I look back now I wonder why I didn’t just enjoy the entire ceremony and trust God to do only what he can do. In these seven years we’ve been through so much but just Doing WHATEVER he tells us to do has always made it easy and I’m truly in awe of the way God has made our marriage an everyday honeymoon. Just by yielding to his word, I don’t know where the “Hot tempered, often moody, easily offended, easily angered, unforgiving, can’t stand rubbish, not exactly friendly, mind your business, perfectionist me” went. Today I am just Hadassah the pride and joy of her king- both earthly and heavenly.
… And to you both I blow many kisses as I fasten my seat belt for the many many many many exciting and adventurous years ahead.
Here are a few of the pictures I could find 😀 and for the record I actually thought I was fat back then. Goes to show you’re never as fat as you imagine. Enjoy the moment 😉
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