Gaetano asked me to marry him on November 3, 2019. We had been awaiting this day since early on in our relationship—we knew that God was affirming our relationship from the start, despite the long-distance dating and complicated life circumstances. We were overjoyed and planned to get married five months later on April 5, 2020. We got right to planning, and things were falling into place as the day quickly approached. But only a few days after all the important women in my life gathered for my bridal shower in March, everything started to fall apart.
As we all know well, the pandemic and the restrictions hit our country hard in March 2020. Each day, the number of people allowed to gather decreased, from one hundred to fifty to ten. Restaurants and venues were closing down. Each day we got closer to the wedding date, another restriction impacted our plans for the worse. We held out hope, but then our venue closed down and the restrictions in Illinois prevented our plans. We couldn’t even get a marriage license. It turned out that we had to replan our entire wedding day three or four times. This was extremely wearying and discouraging. We were starting to grip the reality that we may not be able to get married on the day that we planned.
Yet by God’s grace and in his kindness, we were able to get married at my parents’ house in Georgia on April 5, with a Georgia marriage license and only some of our immediate family attending. With a guest list of under ten, a last minute photographer, and my parents’ pastor, we put together a special day compliant with the restrictions that were in place. We had a beautiful day, and the most important part about it was our marriage before God. The wedding wasn’t about the party, the number of people, the place, or the plans. It was about the covenant of marriage that is given to us by God as a gift to reflect his love for the church.
Plans that can never be thwarted
All throughout this process, I was tempted to panic, be overcome by emotion, grow weary through all the changes, and believe that our special day was ruined. All I wanted was to maintain control of our day, but each new moment I saw another part of my dream wedding slip through the grip of my hand. I was reminded, though, that Jesus is Lord, and I am not. He has ultimate control, and although there were many tears, God comforted me with the truth that His sovereign plan would reign.
Job 42:2 says about God, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” If it was God’s will for us to get married, he would make that happen regardless of the circumstances. No purpose of God’s can be thwarted; this means that not even a pandemic can shake his plans. Even though it shook my plans, I know God can be trusted because he is truly in control.
Seeking the approval of man
Although we are filled with joy that we were still able to get married, had a beautiful day, and got to spend it with people we love, I am still tempted to be discontent. The sins of comparison, discontentment, and the fear of man have played a part in this story from beginning to end, and still do today. God has convicted me of my sin through Galatians 1:10, which reminds me that I should not be seeking the approval of man because I am a servant of Christ.
While planning our wedding, I was tempted to make decisions based on what I thought would please others or what would resemble a Pinterest wedding page. During the pandemic days, I was driven to despair thinking about my dream wedding crashing to pieces on the floor, and how I would never get the wedding that other women got to have. I feared I would be less than everyone else. What would others think of my “less than” wedding? What would people think when they found out I got married in my parents’ house?
I was discouraged when I thought of other weddings I had been to and compared them to my own. This led me to be ungrateful for the wedding we were so graciously given. Even today, I will scroll on Facebook or Instagram and see photos from other weddings with large receptions, wishing I could have experienced that at our wedding. But then the Holy Spirit convicts me of discontentment. As 1 Timothy 6:6–8 says, “there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” I have so much to be thankful for and every reason to be content in Christ.
The riches of salvation
When I am tempted or give in to sin, I am reminded of what Jesus has done for me: he has opened my eyes to the truth of the Gospel, the good news of salvation for my soul! 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” I am rich in Christ. Through his ultimate emptying of himself, he gave me all things in himself. He has offered me forgiveness as a gift through repentance and faith, as well as the inheritance of heaven!
When I am discontent and unsatisfied with what God has blessed me with, I am reminded of how much he has given me already, even though I do not deserve anything in the slightest. He has given far more abundantly than I deserve—what I deserve is death and eternal punishment for my sin, even these sins of fearing man, comparison, and discontentment. But because of Jesus, I have eternal life ahead of me, full of joy and blessing and being with Christ. A wedding is a good gift from God, but the gift of himself is so much better than any party.
Rejoicing in Christ
Next time I come across someone else’s wedding photos on social media, I can rejoice with them over the blessed day that they were able to have, because the strength of the Holy Spirit is at work. Instead of being filled with envy from comparison or feeling weary from fighting the same battle, I can draw upon the strength of the Lord. I am grateful that I have plenty of reasons to be joyful for the day that God did allow us to have. I was still able to get married, and that was the most wonderful joy. But I don’t only find joy in worldly gifts; I find my ultimate joy in eternal ones. I can rejoice knowing that I have the most joy not in earthly things that perish, but in Jesus Christ himself who will never fade or change. He has promised me eternal pleasure and fullness of joy in his presence (Psalm 16:11).
By faith, I can look forward to the heavenly joys that will last forever. I can look backwards at the cross and rejoice at the best gift I could have ever received—salvation in Christ. Weddings are fun and are a time for rejoicing! But the reality is that they are an earthly celebration, and they will never be perfect. Jesus is better than any earthly joy. My ultimate satisfaction is found in Jesus Christ, and in him I am content.
Krista Paolino has been married to Gaetano since April 2020. She has grown in understanding scripture and following Christ by attending The Orchard for most of her life. Krista and her husband are training for vocational ministry in the Unlocking the Bible Residency program and are serving joyfully at The Orchard-Barrington.