The day I accepted Chris’ proposal to be his girlfriend, something in me was so sure that he was the man I was going to end up with. I mean, it wasn’t hard to see the commitment and dedication he brought on board. He was there for me when I didn’t have a job and he stayed to provide that balance I needed in my life.
Two years into our relationship we decided to get married.
We started getting the things we needed and even rented a place we would live after we were married. The next step was to make my church aware that the man in my life had decided to make it official in the eyes of the Lord.
We both went to see the pastor and declared our intention. He was pleased with the news and even told Chris how helpful I’ve been in the church and the kind of good woman Chris was going to be married to. We scheduled when to start premarital counseling and left the pastor’s house.
Two weeks later, we started our counseling session.
The pastor requested to speak with us individually before the session starts. I went in first. He smiled and started putting questions to me; “How long have you known him?” “Four years,” I responded. “How long have you been dating?” I responded, “Two years, please.”
The next question was; “In these two years that you’ve been dating, have you had sex?” The question caught me off-guard but I responded, “Yeah, we’ve had sex.” “How many times?” I answered, “I can’t put figures to it but We’ve had sex on many occasions.”
The questions were uncomfortable and wished I could avoid them but I also thought there was no need lying in the presence of the Lord so I shyly answered all the questions to the best of my knowledge.
And then he asked again, “You are a Christian, why couldn’t you wait to have sex after marriage?” I stuttered, “Errrm…errrm, we tried not to…we decided not to…but errrr, you see we…we couldn’t keep our promise.” He smiled and signaled me to leave and call Chris in.
Later I was called in to join Chris for the beginning of the session. I didn’t know how the questions went with Chris but when he later told me, I realized he was asked the same questions that I was asked.
One Sunday after church service, I was told the pastor wanted to see me. I went to his counseling chamber and met him and other two elders of the church and he gave me the news;
“You see, you lost your right to a church wedding the day you decided to open your legs for that boy to enter. The bible is clear on this that until you are pronounced husband and wife, you have no right to do what married people do. But our God is a merciful God and I believe he would forgive you. That notwithstanding, the church won’t allow you to wear a white gown on your wedding day or even use any form of veil.”
I was shattered because we’ve already bought the wedding dress and all its accessories. I pleaded with the pastor and he said no. My parent came to plead with me but the pastor said no. Chris was frustrated even suggested we should have the wedding in his church. I had to calm him down. We finally decided we would not use a white gown but to wear some colorful traditional dress for the wedding.
We went through three months of rigorous counseling interspersed with ceaseless fasting and prayers. By the time counseling was over I’d lost so much weight that I had to do alterations to my dress.
Little did we know that the worse news was on the way coming.
Three days before the wedding, it was a Wednesday morning. I was about going out to get some things when I received a call from one of the elders of the church that the pastor wanted to meet me. I rushed to his house and met him with the other two elders I met the day he told me I couldn’t wear a white gown.
The look on their faces wasn’t friendly but I didn’t want to assume anything just yet. I sat and the pastor began talking…
“My daughter, I hope you listen to what I’m going to tell you carefully and rather heed the voice of God and not that of a man. I’ve been fasting and praying to God on your behalf and your impending wedding. God doesn’t want you to have the wedding. You’ve disobeyed him and he wants you to put your ways right before exchanging vows.”
I started shaking. I couldn’t put a name to how I was feeling. Sad? Angry? Disappointed? Livid? I didn’t know the name of that feeling I was going through. I screamed amid tears; “But pastor, we have only three days to the wedding, how do we decide all of a sudden not to do it? How do we explain that to friends and family? See, how do we get the money we’ve invested up to this point?
He was quiet and unconcerned and had no care in his demeanor. He said, “All you’ve told me are worldly things. Money, friends, family…I told you to heed the voice of God and not man. I’ve told you what the Lord said to me. You can disobey it and go ahead with the wedding but definitely not in this church.”
He got up and left with the two church elders.
At that moment, I felt the world had fallen down on me. “How can God do this to his own child?” I thought. “How could a loving father watch his children go through all that only to say no in the end.”
I cried my eyes out but my tears weren’t going to change anything.
I called Chris and told him what my pastor had said…He screamed, “Is he serious? What kind of God told him that?” I was only crying and the only thing I could say was, “I’m at the church premises, please come for me.”
The next day, my parents and a family delegation went to see the pastor to beg him to change his mind but he said; “I can’t change what the Lord has said. His word is final.”
We only had two days to make a decision. A decision to change the trajectory of our story and turn our lives around.
We spoke with Chris’ pastor and asked him to do us a favor. He accepted to officiate our wedding in their church if only we could do it in the late afternoon. The morning was booked for a funeral which he himself was going to officiate.
We accepted the offer in a blink and started sending information to friends and families about the changed program. We spent all day and night on our phones explaining to people why the change and asked them to bear with us.
Finally, on the 25th of May 2013, we got married in front of our families and a few friends who could make it. Yeah, we didn’t have many people in attendance but the few that came gladdened our hearts and made us grateful.
He gave me a ring and a vow. I said, “I do” and left the church as husband and wife. We are still alive and his grace has been sufficient unto us. We have a daughter named “May” because the month of May means a lot to us now.
-Story by Chiagozie Okafor, Ibadan-Nigeria.