How did your wedding inspire you to write a book about getting married?
I wrote "Inviting God to Your Wedding" having had a wedding that Christians enjoyed greatly, and yet just as many nonbelievers told me how moved they were, how blessed, to have been there. With my book, I want to make the Christian experience of God inclusive, not exclusive.
You say that if someone invites God to help with her wedding, there's a good possibility he's going to give some advice she doesn't want.
If you truly turn yourself over to God under any circumstances, he will ask things of you that will cause you to say, "I wanted you to change my life but I didn't want to have to do it painfully." [Laughs.] But pain brings growth, and growth brings hope, and hope brings faith.
My book challenges women to ask, "What is the baggage that I'm bringing to my wedding?" God may ask you to end a relationship, to let go of emotional ties. For instance, I tried to justify keeping some old love letters by telling myself, "Since I'm a writer, I'll need these for research later." But then I thought, "You really are starting a new life with somebody, so start a new life."
If you really love the man you're about to marry, you're going to prepare your heart and prepare each other and your guests. You're not just planning for a wedding, you're preparing for a miracle. That means doing some spiritual and emotional and psychological work beforehand. If you lose 20 pounds of emotional baggage, you'll have a much better time at your wedding, and a much better marriage, than if you spent your time worrying about losing 20 pounds of fat before the big day. But I'm not saying it's easy.
What if someone doesn't feel religious enough to have God at her wedding?
I think if there ever was a time for you to try to bring God back into your life, it's at your wedding.
What do you say to women whose prospective husband isn't willing to do the necessary spiritual preparation?
My first instinct is to say, "You've got the wrong mate." However, I have known women who did an awful lot of spiritual work and their husbands were so impressed that they came along. Jon did not know God before we met. We would get into conversations about spirituality, and I wouldn't back down. He was impressed because obviously whatever it was that I believed worked on the show. Most men are impressed when something works. And Jon wanted to know how it worked. It's just like anything else. You're never going to change anybody by telling them, only by showing them.
Too many weddings turn into compensation for things that didn't happen in someone's life, like never winning a beauty pageant or wanting the blowout party Dad didn't let you have for high school graduation. I've been to weddings where you would have had no idea that it was a religious wedding expect for the setting. Then I've been to weddings that literally had an altar call at the end of the ceremony and alienated quite a few guests.
I hate to see weddings used for anything other than that sacred moment when people get married. It doesn't mean you can't have fun. It doesn't mean there can't be great celebration and joy. But it does mean you need to take it seriously. You have an opportunity at your wedding to share the joy that comes from your faith. If the guests experience the joy, then they're going to respect your faith.Because we did so much preparation with God, we had a fabulous wedding, even though all kinds of things could have gone wrong. ...
[I]t rained on our wedding day. And 15 minutes before the ceremony, I realized no one had checked whether my dress had been delivered, or if it was the right dress. And then I thought, "You know, this doesn't matter. I'm marrying the right man. God is going to be there." And frankly, I think that attitude comes not only from faith but also some level of maturity, of having lived through a lot. That's the way producing a TV show is, too, something goes wrong and you deal with it. It's the final result that matters.
Explain what you mean when you say, "If you invite God to the wedding, he'll want to stay for the marriage."
The habits and the commitment to follow God's direction in problem solving begin as you prepare for your wedding. In the book, I describe it as being like when you were little and tried to braid your hair with only two strands. The braids would fall apart at the first touch. But once you learned how to braid with three strands, it was strong and hard to pull apart. When my husband and I have a challenge or a problem, we never think of it as just the two of us arguing it out. It's three of us. And God always wins.