For those of you that haven’t noticed, wedding season is upon us. If you don’t believe me just open up social media and you’ll be welcomed by pictures of blushing brides and grooms pretending not to cry, as they see their girl all dressed in white and dreaming ‘bout forever.
And for so many others, this season marks another year with the person they love more than life itself. It’s the time of year that posts are made about how much life has gone by together. Every other post online seems to be from couples remarking about all the good times and even some making mention of all those hard times God has used to transform their vows from promises to reality.
This really is the best time of year for a wedding, at least here in the South. The wildflowers are all dressed in their Sunday best and the weather invites everyone to gather ‘round at the end of each day. This is the time of year that I looked forward to, and with all these things considered, and with my darlin’ girl decided that a late spring wedding would be something to write home about.
I can still remember how she giggled as we cuddled up and planned that day. There was so much that we were looking forward to. So much joy that we believed was just before us. She made the happy things better, and she even had a way of trusting God so much that even the bad stuff became something to look forward to. She wrestled with knowing that some of the people she loved most would not be a part of our wedding. And though she sought to reconcile her desires were at every turn rejected. This broke her more than I could handle...yet after asking for me to read her psalms and pray, she always arrived at a place of thanking God for just how amazing reconciliation would one day be. She made the decision to believe that even the worst of things would only serve to show just how full of grace and love Christ could be. Because she believed that every wound would be healed, every injustice made right, every lie exposed, and every moment of pain a way to experience the comfort of God. She wasn’t perfect in this, but damn…she was closer to perfect here than I’ve seen before or shall get to. Even when the world felt full of thorns, she chose to instead spend her time thanking Jesus for the roses.
Earlier this week I found myself flipping through our wedding notebook. I remember it being little more than budgets, brainstorms, and the way she had begun to practice a signature ending with my name. Yet, while flipping through it this week I came across something I don’t remember seeing there before, it was something that should never be in anyone’s wedding planner. I found myself reading her lament, “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child,” she began to write between pages practicing how to write her name once she stole half of mine and budgets that would let us have a reception all our friends would remember even with the little we had. Yet, even in this moment of pain, she was able to remind herself of the truth in ways that I still struggle to grasp, “Though my father and mother forsake me, He will take me in. He is mine and I am His. He satisfies the weary soul and every longing soul He will replenish. I know full well that my Redeemer lives and at the last, He will stand upon the earth.”
This week would have been our second anniversary.
Neither of us were dancers, but I would have played ‘Of Crows and Crowns’ and danced with her this week. That was the song we danced to on those occasions we did dance, those times I grabbed her and the world was full with only her and I. It was the song that I made sure was playing when I fell to my knee and she told me how much she longed to be my wife. That was the song we had picked to be ‘our song’. It was the song I wrote the lyrics to on flower boxes set above her grave until doing so got me arrested.
I played it for her this week, but we didn’t get to dance.
I played our song and instead of her, I clung to the stone and bronze that hold her name.
She loved the Psalms, and she often asked me to read them. So I read the one that she asked me for most often. And near the end, I listened to myself utter out, “The Salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their stronghold in the time of trouble.” And sitting next to a crooked gravestone I let myself hope ever so slightly and believe that this could be true.
Before I left, I read her another. I read her Psalm 16. We had a habit of reading a psalm together most nights, and that was the last one we ever read. It was the one I read her the night before Jesus took her Home and left me ever since feeling homesick. It’s been over two years and I still can’t get through it without breaking down. As I finished reading it this time, I did what I often do. I sat with teary eyes and my mind focused on the end,
“...in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Sitting in a graveyard on a day that should have been the reminder of my wedding I was caught again where I so often find myself, caught in the tension between the present and the promise. Knowing that there shall come a day when joy shall be full, so full that even car wrecks and cancer diagnoses cannot lessen it. There is a day before us when a seat at Christ’s right hand will be something more than something we long to experience and we’ll no longer have to wrestle with the pain of deaths that seem untimely, holes we can’t get out of, prayers that seem unanswered, and hopes that always seems just out of reach.
There is a day that’s coming.
It may seem far away, but it’s now one day closer. And on that day there will be no crooked graves to sit by, no dreams that seem undone, no hopes that feel unanswered, no prayers that seem unheard, and no sadness left within us. On that day we’ll no longer be stuck between our hope and our Homecoming. On that day we’ll see Jesus face-to-face and there will no longer be any graves to sit by. For He shall defeat His last enemy, and death shall be no more.
I know it says that no one knows the day, and no one knows the hour. But today I find myself hoping that He’ll come back in Spring, ‘caues we’re headed to a marriage feast…and as I said to start it off, this time of year is wedding season.