Wednesday, July 6, 2016

You May Now Miss Your Bride

From where I stood behind the young beauty in white, I had a direct view of his face. It did help that his Norwegian frame put him a good head taller than his beautiful Filipina bride, who is quite lacking in stature. And I could see all the emotion on his face, all the emotion that had built up as the millions of pieces that form a wedding had come together. We were all finally here. The groomsmen, sporting bowties and suspenders, were lined up in an evolutionary sort of progression of Adventist pioneer style beards, like well-dressed versions of William Miller heading to the farmer’s market to pick up his ethically sourced quinoa. The other two bridesmaids and I wore coordinating navy dresses that consisted of a skirt and two very, very long strips of fabric that you wrapped around your upper torso in all sorts of fancy (*cough* complicated) ways. You could go for a halter top, strapless, sleeveless, the burrito, or the “what’s that wad of walking blue stuff?” look. (They’re called Infinity dresses. I think because there is an infinite number of ways you can make yourself look like a life-size piece of Japanese origami. Thankfully we managed not to look too shabby.)

People had traveled from as far as the Philippines and as close as the other side of town just to be here for this special day. They endured recycled oxygen as they flew across oceans. They sat in ulcer-inducing rental cars as they drove over miles of Alberta prairie and BC mountains. Now everyone was finally here. The details were all taken care of. Each corsage was pinned. Bowties straightened. Buttons were…butted. The only thing left was the bride. She walked up. He met her at the altar, her parents placed her hand in his, and now they faced each other.

After the prayer, she began to sing. I couldn’t see her face, but I could see his clearly. He looked up to heaven and water came from his eyes; he was overflowing. His shoulders began to shake with a combination of sobs and laughter, as though moving to the rhythm of music so divine none of us could hear it. He cried and cried and she sang and sang. First in Norwegian and then English.

As he read his vows, his hands began to shake, like new spring leaves dancing in the wind. He was trembling so badly, in fact, the pastor had to steady his arms and the bride held his hands.

It’s funny how we react to strong emotions. We shake for a multitude of reasons: when we’re scared, angry, nervous, hungry, excited, laughing, or joyful. And at the bottom of it all, we shake because we’re movable, touchable, vulnerable. We can feel things and that’s why there’s motion in our emotions. It’s a signal that we really feel something through our entire being.

Sometimes I feel like seeing men cry can be awkward or uncomfortable. I’ve never seen my dad cry. But this display of emotion didn’t take away from this groom’s masculinity at all. It only showed his deep love for his bride and the depth of the joy he felt. Because when your love is that deep, you can’t help but shamelessly show it, adoring the other with abandon.

This groom and bride I stood behind had a mostly long distance dating relationship, something a lot of people can’t handle. I remember her telling me how much she missed him. Two years is a long time to be separated. My mind falls apart when I try and even fathom six thousand.

Maybe that’s why the earth is going to shake when Christ comes. He’s coming for His bride and, like the pastor said at the wedding, all He wants is her. That’s it. At the end of the day, she’s it for Him. I hope that someday I can see Jesus’ shoulders shake with sobs of joy and laughter because He finally has His bride. The distance, the gap, the separation, the waiting—it’s all done. She has Him and He has her. When we sing because we’re finally there with Him forever, His eyes will overflow with joy because He is a God who is moveable, touchable; He can feel things. When He’s finally reunited with His bride, all He will do is shamelessly show His affection and we will only be able to adore Him with abandon.

I’m so quick to forget that this is the God I serve. It’s easy for me to feel like His heart is an unmovable stone. But thank goodness I have experiences like this, little windows in life, to remind me of who is missing us right now. We’re His bride and we are greatly missed. But soon the missing will be over and there will only be the shameless shaking of joy, laughter, and togetherness.  

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