She’s eloping tomorrow. Our littlest friend, our free-spirited beauty is running away with the love of her life. We gather in the open living room of a friend’s house to open bottles of red wine and dance to Nikki Minaj.
No one expected this, but no one is surprised, either. If you know her, you know that more than anything in the world, she just wants to be his. It doesn’t matter how or who sees it or if there is a wedding cake or flower girls. She is desperate to be tied—body and soul—to this man.
She shows us the veil she made by hand and laughs with her head thrown back as we each perform our best dance moves for her. I’m no dancer but I can whip my hair back and forth just as well as Willow.
And I realize suddenly—most realizations hit me more like a train wreck than a lightning bolt—that she has reached what most little girls consider the pinnacle of womanhood. She’s getting married. She’s getting married tomorrow.
The whole concept of “’till death do us part” has me in knots. I’m a cautious person, more by circumstance than nature, and the idea of tying myself to another human being scares me to no end. Not because of the person, per say, but more because there is no more intimate way to be known than to choose to spend life together.
The girl in front of me is giddy, ecstatic with joy. She’s nervous in the way that a girl moving in with a man has every right to be nervous. This is a roommate who won’t go away, who is used to doing everything with a certain order, and that order might not be hers. He’s promising to love, honor and protect her for the rest of her life. Surely, she’s aware that he is only human, that there will be more mishaps than a toilet seat being left up every now and then.
And as she talks I recognize a certainty in her that runs deeper than the roots of the tree tattooed along her arm. There is no doubt in her that this man was handcrafted with her in mind.
She is free to believe in him.
On the drive home, I think of all the women who would love to be in her position, hours away from belonging to the man who will be her forever. And I realize that those women would equally love to be in my position, to be tied even as loosely to a man as I am, to have been chosen with his confidence and persistence.
The man who loves me is quietly confident, full of assurance that I am his. He is patient with me, and kind. He has fought for every square inch of ground in my heart and has contented himself with far less than he deserves. He has given me love without demanding anything in return.
When I hear his voice, the panic in me stills. Though there are many miles yet between us, with a word he calms my fear. He reminds me that nothing I have said yet, no fear, no uncertainty has made him want to leave. He has seen all my worries and uncertainties and crazies, and loves me all the more.
And then I read Paul’s words in Romans. He says,
“Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5, Amplified Bible)
I have been praying for this very thing, for this fortitude that Paul speaks of. There is no way for the steadiness I long to know to be developed in me other than this day-to-day giving up of control, for control is only manifested fear. There is no way for me to learn trust-for him and for God-except by choosing to step heart first into the dark, trusting that the hand I hold is true and real and won’t let go.