“My family didn’t see me get married.”
I’ve formulated those words in my mind scores of times during the nearly 12 years since my wife and I were married in the Logan Utah Temple. I’ve rehearsed them in imagined conversations that never actually happened, but that felt vividly painful and discomfiting to me even in their hypothetical form.
While our wedding day was a day of love and happiness, and overall a good spirit prevailed, it is difficult for me to think back and realize that my parents and siblings—and an aunt and uncle who are there for everything their nieces and nephews do—were not in the same room for the most important part of it.
So it was a day of happiness and heartache, two emotions that I believe can and did co-exist on that summer day in 2007.
This experience is why, as a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was thrilled and relieved that the Church did away with its required one-year waiting period between a civil marriage and a temple sealing ordinance. While it doesn’t change anything in the past from our wedding day, I am happy for couples who now have flexibility and don’t have to agonize about who among their family would not be able to see them become officially wed.
(Note: My wife and I did a ring ceremony for family in Pennsylvania a week after our wedding. But, in my view, the official wedding is the official wedding.)
I also took the time to read the stories and experiences of others all over social media. Some were more difficult than mine, wondering why this change wasn’t made sooner. Others spoke of family rifts that had not healed. Still others said they wouldn’t change a thing about their wedding day.
However long this took, I see the change as church leaders taking into account who could not be present at a temple wedding, and accommodating families of converts who are not members of the LDS faith, other family members who no longer formally practice the faith, and younger siblings and relatives who would be able to enter the temple but for their age.
I see something else in it, too.
It is an era of rapid change in the church, each new announcement brings an array of reaction. Joy, excitement, surprise, renewed faith, as well as anger, lament, or hoping for an apology.
Now is a time, whether the Lord and church leaders intend it this way or not, to see how seriously we take King Benjamin’s admonition to “mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”
If a change is welcome and brings happiness to you, that’s great. But we have witnessed and will witness those who are doing their best to walk this same path, who may have to pause during this time of change, whether it’s due to exhaustion, confusion, or hurt.
We are called to comfort each other, to stop and sit on the path from time to time, to bring bread and water when our fellow travelers have difficulty.
A quote from Christian author Rachel Held Evans, who tragically passed away over the weekend, is relevant here.
“Imagine if every church became a place where everyone is safe, but no one is comfortable. … We might just create sanctuary.”
Change won’t be comfortable, but let’s be sure that everyone is safe.