The morning of Kimberlee + Ben's wedding, Emma + I showed up early to the beautiful barn and soaked in the morning bliss as she shot details and I reminisced on the first time I met the two lovebirds.
Years ago, we all went to the Red Door Church when I was a college student at Bloomington. They were dating already at the time and already looked so picture perfect together. I took photos for Kimberlee and her best friends that fall, and the spring after I took professional headshots for her big sister.
It seems like you never know when the moment will come that an incredible client then asks you to photograph her wedding... her perfect wedding. The wedding her best friends were beaming at and the wedding her sister, mother, and father looked at her adorned in the most elegant dress with tears in her eyes.
Kimberlee + Ben, you two are the most perfect and God will bless you so abundantly in the years to come. So before your day is totally over, I'll leave you to read the words that rocked us all that afternoon as you scroll through images of the best day ever :)
P.S. A BIG THANKS TO ALL OUR VENDORS!
"You were made for this journey together. God dreamed about this day when he first dreamed of you. And so it's at this altar that the trails of two separate lives conjoin for good, and two move forward as one - not so you can make progress but so you can make love, make family, shape a legacy.
"Ben and Kimberlee - may you embark on this journey from a rootedness in who you are.
"Marriage then, is not the uniting of two half-hearts hoping to become whole but rather the overflow of two full hearts, loved and loving. And the river of your love flows only out of a single source: you love because He first loved you. Because you are named Beloved, you are set free to love.
"See, your marriage will always be based around getting your needs met through the other until the day you hear and receive, deep down, the Voice that calls you Beloved. The Voice that says you are already enough - already invited, already at home, already chosen, blessed, significant. And I don't mean that as an abstract sentimentality - I mean you've got to come to grips with this: you are perfectly loved by perfect love. You can let your guard down.
"It is only this perfect love that heals perfectionism. It is the only balm strong enough to bind the wounds of inadequacy and insecurity. Perfect love spans the gap between your best efforts and what you with you could be if you were... well, perfect. It is a game-changer because it changes the game - it lets you stop running the never-ending race with an always-moving finish line. You'll never win that race called 'be perfect - in beauty, intelligence, or capability.' It is perfect love that invites you to stand up and say, 'I'm not playing anymore with these lesser gods of proving and earning, because I have heard the greater God call me Beloved.'
"This is how love is made complete among us. From this place you can be wildly accomplished. It's ok. You can be disappointingly average. It's ok. And when this perfect love drives out fear, you might just find yourselves suddenly free of needing one more word to call you worthy or one more moment to make you matter. You are enough in Christ. And from that wholeness you are liberated to actually love each other, rather than merely meeting each others' needs.
"And this is why Christian marriage is like a signpost pointing the world in the way of a different kind of love. It's not a love that creeps along through a series of quid pro quo concessions - I'll give you your vice as long as you give me mine. I'll meet your needs as long as you meet mine. It is a love that springs from the fountain of belovedness - a sacred intimacy founded on self-giving, sacrificial love made possible through Christ and demonstrated on the cross.
"Follow his lead by laying your lives down for each other. Ben do for Kimberlee, and Kimberlee do for Ben, what Jesus did for you both - and the rest will follow. The song you walked down to tells the truth:
'You're my beloved - lover I'm yours. Death shall not part us, because it's you I died for.'
"So die to yourself so you can rise up together. And this doesn't mean one of you gets trampled on, or lives in fearful submission, or has to die to your dreams so your spouse can live to theirs. You were never called to die to what is most true and good about who you are. What you're dying to is manipulation and wrath, to selfish ambition and the conflict avoidance that breeds contempt, you're dying to staying safe so you don't have to risk the deep places of your heart. You're dying to any lesser love that says you have to do more or be more to be beloved. Go ahead and die to those things right now. Because look at each other - you're already loved.
"In this life, you'll see sights along a grand journey - but you also get to see the sights of each other. You are each other's person. You get to witness God's work at work in each other's hearts. And when your spouse forgets that they are loved and loveable - guess what your job is? Call them out of their despair. Speak better words of blessing over them.
"Because connection is richer than perfection. And the healthiest of marriages aren't defined by being perfect in attraction or accomplishments, in sexuality or communication or wisdom or choices. They are defined by your covenantal commitment to draw near to each other with grace, honesty, and forgiveness at the very moments that things are so not perfect. And we tell each other God's good news, and the image of JEsus in them begins to gleam again, outshining all the dust and dirt.
"Your homework then, is the same homework Holly and I gave you during pre-marital counseling. Fight. Keep fighting. But fight fair. Fight for health. Fight for each other's whole hearts. Fight to cherish the journey even when you're still a long way off. The fight may feel risky and vulnerable - it will call you to be naked in front of each other, unashamed to show the realest, rawest, roughest you. Doing so may cause a fight. But every thing that is good is worth fighting for. Fight well, and from the same side. Forgive often. Lay yourself down. Rise up in new life.
"We bless you for it. Amen.