Sunday, April 22, 2012

Being the Bride

April 1st turned me into a different human being.

I became a woman on a mission, with my attention focused and that focus unwavering. I pinpointed my best sources of advice and wisdom on wedding planning, and zeroed in. I selected a calendar checklist and began to follow it. Hundreds of tasks, big and small, and the spending of thousands of dollars loomed before me, but none of it was daunting. I accepted my lot matter-of-factly, joyously, practically, single-mindedly. Ordinarily I hate shopping and price-comparison bores me. Now I am learning to try on and bargain and send bids back and forth and weigh options tirelessly.

Hobbies took the back burner. Work still seemed important, but no longer The Ultimate Most Important Thing, as I normally treat it. I was no longer afraid to ruffle corporate feathers. I saw my future before me, and my family taking shape, and suddenly that was the thing of most importance, regardless of whether or not my decisions made other people unhappy with me. Hulu queues and Netflix in my mailbox faded into the distance. No time for frivolities. No time to waste a moment.

I am going to be a bride on September 23rd, and it will be the day of highest importance to me so far in my life.

I am already the Bride, you see. When I fill out inquiries for dress shopping appointments and vendors, the electronic forms ask me to select my role in the event. "Bride," I say.

This is a status I have longed for so deeply my entire life that I have been afraid to express it. I have been afraid to plan for it -- I am not the girl who's known her colors and selected her flowers and kept it all in a frilly binder for that sweet someday. I am the girl who graduated highschool and did not list "get married" as one of my future goals on the program biography. It was too important a desire to trivialize in such a way, in my head. Marriage is a sacred undertaking, and it is unique to the two people who enter into it. I couldn't plan a wedding or imagine myself a Bride without a specific Groom.

Now I have a particular Groom, just the one God planned for me, and I see why in myriad ways, but look forward to learning so many more of those unique reasons. I know our union is incredibly unique and I will treat it that way in my planning and preparation, but I also know we follow in the footsteps of many who've experienced success and failure, and we are keeping a tradition of religion and culture, and we are dying for wisdom from the people who have done this before and longer and better than we.

We have already experienced enough of one another to know that we cannot go it alone -- we need a supernatural foundation to weather the storms of life.

Even as I plan the day, with covenants for life and eating and drinking and merriment-making, the gravity of the undertaking gives me pause. I want desperately to be a Good Wife, more than I've ever wanted to be anything in my life. I know this is something that takes place over time and in the soul. A good party won't seal the deal. Marriage will be a daily vow that I recommit to. I want my spirit and soul and body to be prepared to begin. I want to hear from people I trust and I want to read what the "experts" I trust have written down on pages bound that were then recommended over and over to me.

Now I am the Bride of September 23rd in the future, and I suddenly understand my role as a bride of Christ so much differently.

I should plan and prepare for the feast upon His arrival. Prepare my mind, my body, my soul to enjoy Him to the fullest. Set to the back burner my hobbies, stress relievers, distractions. Cast aside my worries about disappointing others' expectations and demands, release fear of what others might think, and dive fully into my role as His bride. Anticipate my Bridegroom. Learn about Him -- his likes and dislikes, what pleases Him, what He thinks makes a Bride good. Refuse to be derailed about the days when faith is not bolstered by feelings, or when routine wears my patience thin. Embrace the ups as well as the downs of a lifelong commitment tainted by sin on this earth. And I acknowledge that His Bride in her fullness is the Church, and I must be a part of the Church to take on my role as fully as possible. And my family is a little Church, too.

And this brings to my mind that His commitment to me is utterly unbreakable. His love has been sealed with the ultimate sacrifice of Love. Some people tattoo their left ring finger to symbolize that their union is undoable. He covered his whole body in scars to remind us all the extend He is willing to go out of His love for us. The scars will always remain. He will always remain faithful. Regardless of spouses who may not remain, whether for promises broken or for taking last breaths, Jesus will remain.

So Jesus is the Bridegroom I will learn to celebrate and anticipate for the rest of my life, and the process I'm experiencing right now is a teaching for me to take into my future with a deeper understanding of the holy abandon of life as a Bride.