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The Dream Wedding

Her big day had finally come, the day she had been planning since she was five – a ceremony twenty-five years in the making. As the last guests arrived and the bridal party lined up, she sat out of sight by herself in a side room, waiting for the big reveal.

She stared at the old wooden door separating her from all her friends and family. The minutes crawled along like hours. A tear fell out of the corner of her eye, and walked down her cheek. It caught her off guard, like an unexpected and uninvited guest. Was it because the day was here at last, her long-awaited groom waiting for her by the altar – the ecstasy of finally wearing white after all those bridesmaid dresses? Or, as she began to be honest with herself, was she crying because her wedding was nothing like what she thought it would be? Was it that she was not the bride she thought she’d be?

She had thought she’d be married by now. When she was younger, she tried to be patient and do things the right way. But no guy ever showed interest – most of them not even enough to know her name. They always went after the prettier girls and the ones ready to fool around sexually. She could still remember the pain of lying in bed at night, scrolling through social media, wondering if her relationship status would ever change.

Tired of waiting around and missing out, she broke up with her old standards. She started dating more aggressively her first year in college and never really stopped. She couldn’t remember a time when she didn’t have a boyfriend. She could remember every breakup – every once of heartbreak. The wounds still hurt, even on her wedding day – even with a fiance waiting fifty yards away. Her fiance. What if he knew everything about her past? What if he could have heard her say “I love you,” to all those other men? What if he knew how far things had gone, how she had let each new guy push the boundaries? Would he still say, “I do”? She was happy she had found her man – she really was – but devastated she hadn’t saved herself. She had gone about it all wrong and couldn’t leave her history behind. She took another nervous look in the mirror and suddenly felt more uncomfortable in white.

She secretly dreaded those first weeks and months of marriage. Sure, the honeymoon would be fun, but what about real life? What will he think about me when he really gets to know me, when he sees all my flaws and weaknesses up close? She was terrified they might end up like her parents and that her children might suffer like she had – stuck between two homes, torn between Mom and Dad. She had always thought marriage might complete her, that it might fill out her purpose in life and give her the happiness she had chased for so long. Moments before saying her vows, she knew she was wrong. And now she was about to parade down the aisle with false hopes and unfulfilled expectations, the room filled with beautiful white roses to help her forget her failures and lots of do-it-yourself decorations to distract her from all her shame and fear.

She heard her song, the one she had been hearing in her imagination since she was a little girl. A knock at the door signaled it was time. She stood, straightened her dress, wiped the tear or two from her face, and smiled. She had picked the dress and her makeup, but she never knew she would have to put on a smile. She was happy, but she couldn’t stop thinking about all she had done wrong. As she opened the door and stepped into the aisle, she was totally unprepared for what was waiting there for her.

As she stepped into the aisle, filled with fear and shame, she saw her groom. Suddenly, it was if no one else was in the room, just the two of them staring into each other’s eyes. He didn’t say a word, but his face said everything she needed to hear. His eyes told her he knew it all, every inch of her past – every lonely night, every bad decision, every unhealthy relationship, every sexual act – and that he had still chosen her and loved her as his wife. She may not have deserved to wear white that day, but he had bought the dress for her, to cover all her failures. His smile told her she was forgiven and prized – the delight of his eyes. She forgot every feeling unnoticed or unwanted. A tear fell out of the corner of his eye and walked down his cheek. It melted away all her shame and fear. She had found her groom, the one willing to die for her, on a cross, “that he might present [her] to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).

We are the sinful and broken bride, filled with regret, fear, and shame – regardless of whether we have a dating history or a sexual past – and Jesus stands at the end of the aisle waiting to undo all we’ve done wrong and to welcome us into a love and relationship beyond our most romantic imaginations. On this side of heaven, we are all not yet married. We are all waiting for a day, after the last wedding has finished – after the last walk down the aisle, the last wedding cake, the last first dance – when as one family we will meet our groom. At that wedding we will sing, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7). For many of us, marriage will have its day, but it will feel like only a day, next to an eternity with our Saviour and King. We will stare at Jesus – without shame, without guilt, without sadness, without fear – and experience the first moments of a happiness unlike any here on earth. We will all be married, and that marriage has everything to do with how we live, date, and marry now.

This is an excerpt from the book ‘Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness and Dating’ by Marshall Segal. Buy a copy of the book here.

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