The bride is beautiful, but then she always is. As the doors of the church open to reveal the girl in the white dress and immaculate hair at the other end of the aisle a smile fills every aspect of the groom’s face. All rise in honor, most eyes focus in on one point, many hearts swell with uninterrupted joy…but some hearts find themselves breaking a little, some feel the sting of guilt as they wish themselves in her place, or at least a place similar to hers…
“If I ever get married-“
“When, when you get married.”
Cue internal eye rolling, obligatory thanks with accompanying smile.
I’m so happy for them, really I am, but dark thoughts crowd my mind, bumping together, insisting on my attention. Why isn’t it me? Am I being punished? Will I always and forever feel like some sort of awkward planet orbiting around the very edge of the circle while others decide what category to put me in? Am I just meant to be a third, fifth, seventh wheel?
“A friend of mine got married at forty, you’re still young, don’t worry!”
I do worry. I don’t want to be forty when I get married.
“You’re desire is a good desire and God says He’ll give you the desires of your heart!”
Is that really what scripture teaches? Really?
I should be thankful for what I have, count my blessings, trust in the God Who I know to be both good and sovereign, but it’s hard. Sometimes suffocating. Sometimes painful. Often lonely. Occasionally heartbreaking. Periods of guilt mixed with longing come flashing through like waves I can’t beat back. They throw me quite literally on my face in angry, tear-filled prayers. I fight the lies that flood my head, I claw at the truths of scripture, I still hurt.
“In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; ‘I have overcome the world.’” This truth echoes through my mind as I curl up in a lounge chair in the back yard of my parent’s house. Out there, in the dark, far from glaring city lights, stars poke through the black of the sky, a thousand grains of salt on a dark table cloth, the visual promise to Abraham regarding his offspring, the overwhelming expanse that baffles me with just how big the universe is and how small I am.
For a few moments, the oppressive weight lifts from my body, floating into space like the steam rising from the hot tub. The promise, assurance of pain remains, a shadow extending forward into the future, but the burning reminder of the suffering servant plants itself firmly beside me, and in that moment of remembrance I am strengthened.