When you are planning a wedding, you hear that you won’t be able to sleep the night before, or if you don’t hear that, you just expect it to be like Christmas Eve with the excitement of morning keeping you up all night….
…. I slept like a lamb. (I use this phrase a lot, with absolutely no indication or knowledge of how lambs sleep- it just seems like they would sleep peacefully-they’re lambs.)
Regardless, I had no trouble sleeping. I think it was because it still had not hit me that I was truly getting married the next day. As one of my bridesmaids stated at the rehearsal dinner,
“It’s like we are back at a sorority formal, and you’re just the center of attention.”
Which was how I felt. I woke up the next morning. I got my hair and make-up done. I went to the church. I put on the white dress. Yet, it was still like it was a dream, and it wasn’t real yet.
Fast forward a few hours.
I am standing behind a church door, holding onto my dad’s arm, hearing the song that I have listened to one
million billion times over the past eleven months, knowing that in less than a minute, the doors are going to open, and I am going to walk down the aisle.
That’s when it hit me, standing behind a door with the man who taught me about love, waiting to walk down the aisle to the man who I would learn about love with for the rest of my life- that’s when it hit me:
“I AM GETTING MARRIED.”
Now, I sort of understand how Julia Roberts must have felt in Runaway Bride because if you haven’t quite picked up on the less than subtle cues throughout your day (white dress, veil, church filled with people) that you are getting married yet (like me) then it is a pretty overwhelming moment. This is a joke- I would never have run. Jogging is much more comfortable 🙂 Lucky for Andrew, I had no chance to run the opposite direction because Jamie all but sprinted me down the aisle. (If you were there, you understand).
Back to the point- hopefully I am getting to one– standing there in that moment with just my dad was a moment that I will never forget. It was so much more than a moment. It was a rite of passage and milestone. It was denial and acceptance. It was silence and a thousand words at once. Standing there in my last few moments with him, we weren’t just in a church. We were…
–in a car on the way to Rouse Elementary as a first grader. He’s telling me to pray, and I am getting mad because he won’t close his eyes too. (I obviously thought he was Superman and didn’t need vision to drive).
– at a soccer game that is held entirely too early on a Saturday morning. (I am the only nine-year-old goalie in recreational soccer who can’t punt the ball). He’s standing on the side lines clapping and cheering, even if I have to run and chunk the ball and pray that I make it back to the goal before someone kicks the ball again.
-hugging in a parking lot the day that I hit my first parked
car (RCSD van). He’s hugging me as I cry with face paint streaming down my cheeks complimenting the ridiculous rest of my outfit that I donned for my friends’ first game of the season that I clearly missed.
-saying goodbye next to the elevator in the Martin lobby as he’s leaving me at Ole Miss for my freshman year of college. I cried as soon as I got on the elevator.
-standing by the ocean talking the day after I got engaged. One minute we are laughing and smiling-the next we are both tearing up wondering how we got to this point so fast.
All of these moments came flooding back as I was standing there with him. I held his arm tighter, and then the doors opened. We smiled and began walking down the aisle, trying to keep our composure as Jamie began his marathon sprint.
We made it to the end of the aisle (and in record time); he stood between Andrew and me. The question was asked who gives this woman to this man. “Her mother and I.” With that and a kiss on the cheek, he took his seat and watched as I stepped out into a new chapter.
Thinking back to that day and the aisle, I can’t help but think that it’s similar to God and His love for us. We look back at our lives, and we see all of the moments where He was standing there beside us- whether he was running down the sidelines cheering, wiping away our tears from our mistakes, or standing with us in the midst of our celebrations and laughing with us. We see all of the instances and fingerprints of His love in our lives, and we don’t realize, sometimes, how much He loves us and how unwavering He has been in our lives until moments when we are simply with Him.
He holds our hands when we are standing behind closed doors. He calms our nerves. He smiles at us and tell us we are loved. Doors open. He guides us. He walks us down aisles of life, and He places certain people at the end of them that are waiting for us- waiting to teach us, waiting to encourage us, waiting to love us, waiting to challenge us, waiting to fulfill their role in our lives. He smiles at us as He watches us step into new chapters of our lives.
He is always there.
As I sit and reflect on the unconditional love I have so undeservingly received from my Earthly and Heavenly Fathers, I can’t help but think about the words of one of my favorite hymns.
“How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure.”
Wherever you are in life- whether you are standing behind a closed door waiting on one to open, running down different aisles of life hoping there’s something or someone waiting on you at the end, or stepping out into a new chapter, I hope you know that you are not alone. There is a Father who has been walking with you through every childhood memory, every awkward adolescent encounter, through every trial and celebration, and His love is vast beyond all measure.