Me, I grew up in a conservative orthodox church. My parents were Baptists and somewhere in the pews of the church, I learnt to love God. My born again experience was later down the line, but that is not what this write up is about.
Fast forward many, many years, and about 6 churches later (only 2 were actually personal long term decisions, the other 4 had ‘external influences’) I met the woman who would later become my wife.
‘Bros, smile now. Must Jesus beg you before you smile at Him in church?’ were the first words she spoke to me, complete with an impish smile.
She worked as a greeter in our common church and somehow, my normal serious look was interpreted as ‘frowning’. I chuckled though and I confess, that impish smile was all I thought about all through the service. After service, I went looking for her. The rest as they say was history.
Our courtship took less than one year- we both knew what we wanted, were in our thirties and ready to commit to building our lives together. We were already doing the family rounds barely five months after that fateful day.
The rounds took us to our pastors’ house. Not office, like for the pre wedding counselling. Their names were on the ‘relatives to visit’ list.
‘They are our Parents in the Lord’ she had explained.
Don’t get me wrong, I had heard the term used before- but not in any church I had been to and certainly not in reference to myself. At our present church, the pastor was called Pastor and the pastor’s wife; Mrs P. The five other churches I had attended? They had been youth fellowships and youth churches. The term had never been used.
So maybe that’s why I was surprised to be informed I had Parents in the Lord.
That asides, I was pretty stoked to be going to Pastor’s house. Wifey was really at home there, when we got there. They clearly knew her much better than I had known and they greeted me like they had been hearing about me. Mrs P asked me a few questions and Pastor had some deep advice for me.
‘I didnt know you were close to Pastor and Mrs P like that’ I remarked on our drive home.
She laughed ‘Everyone should be close to their parents in the Lord’
2nd mention. Ok o.
The wedding was a big one- my iyawo knew almost everyone at our about 2000 people strong congregation by name. Then she also knew most of her second cousins by name and number. Pastor and Mrs P officiated the church service. It was a honor really.
Left to me, wedding receptions should be scrapped. I had never been to a wedding reception where I didn’t wonder why a wedding shouldn’t just end after the church ceremony. The least important part of the whole wedding thing was the subject of so much planning and attention. And headache.
I mentioned this twice to wifey during the planning but she had just laughed and tweaked my cheek. Both times. Compromise was that I didn’t want any part of the planning process. She, my mom and her mom were delighted with my announcement. So I had nothing to do but to hope I wasnt a grouch during the inevitable, all important wedding reception.
The reception was nice, I guess. Wifey was definitely part woman, part fish the way she was able to contort her body in the name of dancing. She was definitely very happy about the ceremony (and me, hopefully). Okay, not so bad, I thought to myself, fighting the temptation to look at my wristwatch ever so often. Not so bad.
We had just taken our seats after dance in when wifey leaned over and whispered that we should go and serve ‘Mummy and Daddy’ with the wine from our table.
Uhm, I know I’d avoided wedding receptions like a plague but I was sure this wasn;t routine. We? Serve the wine from our table? Why? There was wine on every table and we could always tell the ushers to help out if needed.
‘As a sign of respect. it’ll be a nice gesture’
Before I could say ‘Absolutely not’, she had gotten up already and grabbed the bottle of wine, smiling at me like we were both in on a conspiracy. I forced a fake smile to cover my perplexity and followed her, ignoring the suggestions the emcee felt it was his duty to make. The crowd laughed.
Halfway to the guests, I realised I didnt know which of our parents she was planning to serve. If we served one pair, the other would definitely be slighted
‘Wifey…’I whispered through clenched teeth, but she was waving away and smiling at everyone. Prom queen mode. She really loved this thing.
When we strolled past our parents’ tables, my fake smile slipped a little But wifey kept going. Just as I reached out to grasp her elbow, tired of the ‘idiot’ feeling I had going on, she stopped.
Pastor and Mrs P’s table.
They seemed amused. Surprised too. Mrs P got up to hug her. The church members in nearby tables whooped. With a flourish, she held out the wine bottle to me, to open of course, while she basked in their praises. She then collected it from me and filled their glasses.
Now, we were free to go back to the couples spot. Amidst comments from the emcee who was starting to get on my nerves.
Was I the only one that thought what just happened was a tad bit weird?
‘What was that?’ I asked her through my fake smile
She just laughed and planted a peck on my cheek, much to the delight of the crowd.
I just should have known this was not going to be the end of it…
To be continued