I stood in front of the mirror, deciding I looked great. You women know how those body slimming mirrors work in dimly lit dressing rooms...you're all ten pounds lighter and skin tones more brilliant. Then you get home.
I pulled the white dress out of the bag. The zipper wouldn't move. It was getting stuck somewhere between fat and fabric.
My face sank. Yank! Soon enough, I looked like a beet.
Things were tightening in around me; I called in the troops. Husband wasn't strong enough.
I pressed him to press on.
"We don't give up on these types of things, I assured him. This is far too important to call it quits."
He didn't quit. He's not that type. It zipped.
And as everything pulled together, I looked in my mirror, to see if it could possibly be as good as I remembered.
Wait, what is that? Those little dots?
Somehow, what resembled spattered pizza grease made my brand new white dress look tainted. I shrugged and figured hair could cover it well enough. I left for church, stained. Toddler son caught a glimpse, sealing the whole experience, and asked, "Mommy, are you getting married today? Is that your wedding dress?"
Beloved at Church
My hair was doing its job. My mouth was singing praises. Things were alright, especially since I wasn't expecting much on this off-to-a-rocky-start day. God has other thoughts - thoughts unlike mine. Ones that work despite half-kept appearances, plummeting feelings and flawed days.
He whispered, "Kelly, you are my bride."
I wanted to laugh. Argue even. I hardly was... Didn't God see what I was wearing?
I sat. Pastor got up. He was going to be talking about women's roles in the church. I held onto my seat. This kind of message can go anywhere; I wasn't sure where we were headed.
Pastor Mark Henry said:
1. Husband is to love me like "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Eph. 5:25 (Tall order there!!!)
2. I am to "honor husband and lovingly respond to his leadership and care." (Vente latte order here!!!)
3. This is a picture of intimate love. It is also is a picture of Jesus relating to Father God.
Something rocked me, the bride. I thought, "Yes. Just think, we gawk, ooh and ahh over that one moment. The moment Jesus requested, relied and relinquished his rights, by saying: 'Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.' (Luke 22:42)
Jesus trusted Father.
And, Jesus followed Father, no matter the cost.
Through this, we see a unified and magnified triune.
We see, as onlookers, the presence of all peace move in tandem with God's intended purpose.
It saves. Testifies. Redeems.
Do I let it work on my behalf?
The thought occurs to me: to feel like the bride of Christ, I must humbly accept the blessings that correspond with lowliness and selflessness.
The Aisle of Clarity
I must allow in, what the world and my controlling personality stifle.
I must let my husband love me by leading me, not because he will do it perfectly, but because God will love me perfectly - as I do it.
I must give Christ the chance to make my stained dress white, clean and sparkling. He often does this through man.
I must receive what is love, even if it looks different than my rigid definitions of it.
I must avoid rushing in, questioning paths and offering advice to my husband so that space and grace can make room for Jesus Christ to walk in and love me.
I must avoid blocking love so I don't feel like a dirty and deserted bride on her wedding day.
This won't be easy, but it will be easier when I remember:
I am beloved.
I am cared for.
I am adored.
All man is faulted.
God is not.
His love works past man's worst or best efforts.
Will I give - faith in God's plan - a chance to work for me? Will you?
To bend so low that only a knight in shining God could rescue in the gap of defenselessness***?
What might it look like for you to run into God's arms of refuge - to find yourself loved - as bride?
***Side note: This type of humble bowing is not done in a way where, we women, justify slaps or abuse. It is also not intended to tell us to go against the Word of God in blatant disregard. If, however, you find yourself in this place, you are not alone. You have a liberator and a door. He will help you. He will love you with compassion and gentle leading. Please consider wise counsel. Contact your church or a therapist for help. My prayers and heart are with you. Please remember, you are no less bride than I am. May your wise steps lead you to feeling this in your heart as you proceed forward.