Originally published Thursday, 27 February 2014.
Maybe she'll be on the arm of her father. Or maybe life's tragedies took over her story and a faithful brother will be standing by her side.
No matter her circumstance, no matter her history or her present, on the day of her wedding, she'll only carry a bouquet.
It certainly won't look the same as all the others. I happen to have a sweet friend getting married in a few months who will carry a collection of brooches given to her by her friends and relatives.
Whatever she holds, be it peonies or daises, brooches or pompoms, her bouquet will only be a symbol of loveliness, a statement of who she is with her own personal flair.
It will not be a symbol of her past. She won't step-and-touch with her hurts, her mistakes or her former lovers–men or idols. She will only carry her bouquet.
And she will be carried, too, a little. By the weightlessness of love. By the pressure of seating charts and guests lists. Of in-laws and (let's be honest) bridesmaids.
She'll be swept away by the march down the aisle.
Not that the past doesn't matter, of course. Not that her worth was only measured on the day her groom knelt down and asked her to be his bride. Her story before her romance is important. It is stunning.
But, the most beautiful thing about a bride is knowing that a different pocket of her story is about to unfold like the petals from a bold bouquet.
And who doesn't love new chapters? Especially those that require you let go of one way of life to make room for another.
There is a book we were required to read in journalism school called the Things They Carried, an "almost memoir" of a man's experience in the Vietnam War. The story opens with the image of soldiers and the items they chose to bring with them on their journey. They were reminders of loveliness of their lives back home, before the war. Before the destruction.
They were treasures that they held onto with clenched fists in the midst of trenches and grenades. Can you imagine how heavy their packs must have been? How spending days at a time on their feet with the extra weight on their backs affected how they moved and stretched in the war?
Their lives, obviously, were not easy. But how much easier would their march in the trenches have been if their loads had been lessened? If they chose not to carry the past with them?
Girlfriends, we might need to take a cue from brides as we all enter this cyclone of joyful wedding seasons. I know I do.
You see, we don't need to carry anything from our pasts into the future.
Because if we're believers, we're invited to be a part of a different wedding. A ceremony that showcases Christ as the bridegroom, and the Church as his bride. He redeems our past, and recovers our mistakes.
We don't need to hold onto them. We don't need to support them with our backs, or march with them as shields in front of us.
We can let go, and choose to only bring the good, noble, true and honorable along with us as we step into our futures. Whatever they hold.
We don't have to bring anything else with us.
photo credit: marekbz via photopin cc
photo credit: Nick Kenrick, via photopin cc