What I cherish so much about being a wedding photographer is hearing the stories behind each gown or tux. Every person I’m honored to meet is different. Different walks of life. Different backgrounds. It’s a beautiful diversity that I will always be humbled to cross paths with as it’s a constant reminder that our lives are quilt squares of chapters sewn together.
While I share stories of each couple here on the blog, I really couldn’t have shared Jen and Eric’s myself. So I asked Jen to share it, in her words, because I would not have done it justice.
Because it’s not every day you meet a modern-day Ruth and Boaz, a powerful story of second chances, redeeming love, and a steadfast faith.
AS TOLD BY JEN SPRIGGS
Nearly seven years ago, on my 28th birthday, my husband of four years woke up in Heaven. And I, in turn, woke up to confusion, devastation, and shattered dreams. To say that I was lost, broken, and longed for Heaven myself is putting it mildly. I turned to the God I was raised to love but never really “needed.”
With a crushed spirit and a heart sliced wide open, I now selfishly needed Him more than ever. I needed to know He was real. That the Bible was not just a book and that Heaven was in fact a real place as someone I loved so deeply now resided there. Over a two week period, Jesus came to my rescue in so many tangible ways that I could write a book. His words poured a soothing balm over my wounds. I was still completely devastated, but I began feeling His peace walk beside me during the days and provide a blanket during the lonely nights. He gave me a new purpose for this life as I desired to tell anyone who would listen how precious His love is. How beautiful a gift He gave.
I would pray: “Father, thank you for rescuing me. I will serve you all the days of my life. Even if I am down here till I am 90 until I go to heaven to be with you and Bill. I will go wherever you want me to go, do whatever you want me to do. But please, Lord, don’t take our house, his car, or ever give me anyone else to love.”
People out of kindness tried to encourage me that I was young and would find someone else to love. However that only served to break my heart even more. I didn’t want to find anyone else. I had a love some never have. I believed in the fairy tale of one person meant for you. So I was determined to be the best widow ever, continuing to share Christ’s gift of love with everyone I met, and still longing for Heaven.
Eric came into my life as a friend some time later, and I recognized a similar brokenness in his own heart. We exchanged emails of encouraging scriptures, and a friendship blossomed from there. But that was as far as I wanted it to go. As far as I allowed my mind to accept. But after about a year, it became obvious that there was something there as much I hated to admit it. Somewhere deep, my own heart betrayed me, and I secretly desired to see what it was. I stepped timidly, determined to not fall in love. I had my one great love. The fairy tale. That was all I needed. But something drew me in and the more I walked into it, I was flooded with so many mixed emotions of guilt, betrayal, and disappointment in myself.
I was petrified that if I even remotely liked someone else, it meant the love I had for Bill was not as strong as I professed it to be. It took me awhile to even admit the relationship out loud to family and friends (who wisely guessed it way before as only family can do). As a result, I was not what you would call a “good girlfriend” to a man who just wanted to love me and take care of me. A man who had gone through his own painful journey to get here. I fought him so hard over the last four years, and he stood by me the whole time believing through prayer that he was in fact supposed to be here.
Eric has been and continues to be steadfast, loyal, patient, and a constant in a heart filled with turmoil. Watching Eric’s faith grow through prayer and trusting that I was in God’s will for my life, walls began to fall. My heart slowly began to open up again and believe it was okay. And not just “okay,” but a real blessing. The God I loved and trusted was trying to bless both of us with a second chance at love.
This was a second wedding for both of us, and at first, we thought a small wedding would be more appropriate. But when we thought about all we had been through and all God had done in our relationship, we knew we had to have a bigger one as a living testimony to God’s redeeming love and ability to restore broken hearts. We prayed that his fragrance would overtake the room and the day. I came in to “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles as it made me smile, and I didn’t want to ugly cry walking down the aisle.
I also thought it would set the scene and let our family and friends know that we are celebrating God today, not crying. Looking back on the pictures, especially coming down the aisle, I do not even recognize the smile on my face. It’s huge, carefree, overjoyed and a smile I have not seen in over 7 years. I am so grateful sweet Chelsea captured this smile as it was another piece in reaffirming God’s plan. It was the outward expression of the weightlessness and peace I felt as we witnessed the culmination of a miracle for both of our lives.
We have been on quite a journey. Separately and jointly. We have had our own struggles to overcome and continue to walk in His faith as our loving Father steers our sail. What has been amazing to realize though is the abundance of love God pours on you. It’s overwhelming when you stop and take it all in. I didn’t just get the ridiculous opportunity to love deeply again. I gained a daughter. A beautiful 13-year-old daughter, who by the grace of God has allowed me to love her and loves me in return.
The more I walk with God, the more I realize this life is not about fairy tales as we little girls grow up dreaming about. We live in a world where pain is all too real. But if we allow God to have his place in our lives, the possibilities of love, adventure, beauty, and dreams are endless. The definition of “the fairy tale” changes into the reality of God’s precious and perfect plans for our lives. We cannot allow the fear of pain to block the gifts God so desperately longs to provide to His children. How could either of us have known that such heartaches would lead to the greatest gift either of us had ever known, Jesus Christ, the true Love of our lives. And in that all perfect Love of His, He sutured the hearts of two broken lives so that one day, those two now healed hearts could give His love to one another. Lord, You are the gift, our love and this little family of three is a bonus. Thank you, Lord, for YOU. Yes, to God be the Glory!
Jen and Eric, thank you so, so, so much again for being so open to share such an amazingly candid story. Your story. And as cheesy as it sounds, thank you for being one of my favorite love stories of all time manifest. I know you obviously didn’t set out to do that for my benefit, but ya did! And any story that is equal to Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth’s… well, you know, my fellow Austenite, it’s a good one. 🙂
JEN AND ERIC’S WEDDING TEAM
Venue | The Water Table
Catering | Chef by Design
Wedding Gown | Maya Couture on Main
Entertainment | 911 DJ’s
Desserts and Decor | DIY by Loved Ones