If you follow me on Social Media you know that I had (have, one is later this afternoon) 3 weddings this weekend. Ah, weddings. I’m used to them by now. I have my little routine.
Arrive on time. Small-talk with people I know and others I just met. Choose which groomsmen is the cutest (and notice whether or not he is wearing a ring…). Marvel first at the bridesmaids dresses and then at the bride’s. Cry during the vows. Snap the perfect Instagram shot as the pair comes down the aisle during the recessional. B-line for the open bar. Must. have. two glasses of wine before dinner. Dinner. Toasts. Mentally decide if I’m going to stay for dancing and if so, one more glass of wine. If there is a bouquet, I’ll try to catch it. (I’ve actually caught three – so it’s kind of my “thing.”) Cry once more when the bride and groom walk through the soccer-esque tunnel that we all make for them. Get in my car and go home.
I truly, truly love weddings because I truly, truly love seeing my friends happy. In love. Euphoric. In anticipation of what’s to come (both in life, but also later on that evening…ha).
But I’ll admit, every wedding I attend, the sting of being perpetually single gets a little more acute, a little more painful.
When will this happen for me?
Or recently, just:
…will this happen for me?
(Note: Some of you might be thinking, please. I’m much older than you and have gone to ten times more weddings than you and it sucks much more for me than you. Some of you have told me this, when I share my feelings about being single with you. (Just so we’re clear – that’s not helpful.) But yes, I acknowledge that. I acknowledge that I am young and still “have time” and shouldn’t think about this as much as I do. But I am a thinker and a writer and that’s the most terrible combination when it comes to matters of the heart, so here we are. We each have our own stuff, and this is mine. I don’t want to compare and contrast, and it’s not your place to judge whether or not I am over-thinking this or feeling too many feels about being single for a person my age. Please just allow me to process, to make sense of something that really shifted my perspective. That’s what this space has always been good for, anyways.)
I always hate to compare weddings because every wedding I’ve ever been to is lovely and perfect and special – fitting the bride and groom like the proverbial glove. But there was something inexplicably profound about the wedding I attended last night. I’m realizing, not so much because of the wedding, but because of the state of my heart during this time in my life.
I’ve been in this weird season for the last few months. Everyone told me it would be like this after Seminary. Initially, it started out with me being mad at God for not providing me with a relationship. But then it moved to this place of questioning everything I ever believed in. It’s normal for a twenty-something who has followed Jesus her entire life, I suppose, to have this doubt.
Does it really matter that I live a holy life? I’ve done pretty well thus far, I think I owe it to myself to live a little more free and adventurous for a while. Was Christian University and Seminary really worth it? Because I don’t even know that I want to go into vocational ministry, so it seems like it might have been kiiiind of a massive waste!? Is being a follower of Christ worth it? Because while I’ve experienced great joy in my walk with Him, I’ve also experienced great sadness. Grief. Pain. And frankly, that’s been more my story as of late.
I went into this weekend jaded. Bitter. I’d never say it flat out because like I said I love my friends and am so unbelievably happy for them, but you could probably sense it in the way I rolled my eyes when I told you “I have THREE weddings this weekend” or when I made the joke about needing my flask nearby at all times to endure it all.
I’m sorry I mask my feelings with this petty sarcasm.
But last night, something happened. This wedding, ironically, reminded me that a wedding is not about a wedding. It’s not about the pomp and circumstance or the dance party or the bridesmaids dresses or the hashtag.
We started out the wedding with worship. I was a bit skeptical when I heard about this plan, but once it started, it just felt right. We all know that a wedding ought to be a ceremony that puts God on display and points to Christ. But starting out with worship allowed this couple and the rest of us to, as they say, put our money where our mouth is.
As I sang the words from my favorite hymn:
“Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, still be my vision, Oh ruler of all.”
Things alarmingly came into a new focus.
Whatever befall. Singleness is what is, um, befalling (?) on me in this moment, but I’ve lost the vision. I’ve lost Christ in a haze of doubt and fear and skepticism and bitterness.
Because in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, in single-ness and in not single-ness, the calling is still the same – to glorify God by enjoying Him forever (thanks J Pipes).
I think sometimes us single people forget that a wedding and even a “person” will not make everything better (But, maybe it’s just me, so I apologize for making a generalization). A spouse is not the reward for following Christ. They are a gift, but not the gift.
Sure, being in love is amazing (or so I’ve heard), and there are about ten-thousand things that are awesome about being married, but it’s not the ultimate thing we as humans were created for. I forget that. I forget that my reward for following Christ is not a husband, but Christ. I forget that the adoring gaze or loving embrace of a man will never, ever match the adoring gaze or loving embrace of my Father. And no, it’s not about diminishing the wonderful-ness of being married to make myself feel better, but rather, making sure my thoughts about marriage take their proper place in the hierarchy of my desires and priorities. Marriage is something God created in His infinite goodness, but that’s not our singular call. If I am not living a holy life or pointing others to Christ - I am not walking in a manner worthy of my calling. Honestly, I’m learning now that whether or not I have a spouse is irrelevant for the work God has called me too.
My goal in life should not be to find someone and to be a wife; my goal in life should be to glorify Christ, always. This is not a new epiphany, but for some reason, it is resonating in such a palpable way today.
So, Will and Sally, your wedding reminded me that following Christ is worth it. Not because you’ve “found each other” but because individually and together as a couple, you remind me that God is good. Neither of you has had it easy, and even as you celebrated yesterday, the heartbreak you’ve experienced in this season was visible. But, even still, you worshipped. You glorified God. You made the promise in front of all of us to yes, cherish and love another, but most importantly to glorify God as individuals and as one.
Your wedding was spectacular – fun and sweet and hilarious – all the things a wedding should be. But, as I sit in bed on this morning after, a time normally spent grieving that life I want but don’t have, I am surprisingly at peace about it all.
Your wedding was healing for this single gal’s soul, and for that, I am grateful.