I love weddings, I love engagements; I love anything that has to do with celebrating young love. My husband and I have prayed for our children and the person whom will one day steal their hearts since they were born. We’ve prayed for so many things, but this is so very important because it impacts every area of their lives. We’ve prayed that the person they marry will be faithful, kind, an encourager, committed, honest, and most of all be head over heels in love with Jesus. This person will have more influence than any other person in their life. It’s a big decision and they need to get it right.
Last weekend was a big one for my side of the family. Our niece got engaged. She is the first of the nieces and nephews on my side to get married. She is my sister’s youngest child and only daughter. To say we are over the moon is probably an understatement. This will be an exciting time for us. My own daughter noted, and I agree, that this came at a good time. We have been through so much with the loss of our precious mother, and this will bring us together. It will help to remind us that there is life yet to be lived, and Momma would’ve wanted that. This celebration will blow fresh wind through our sails and we need it.
The beginning of a new season.
A new chapter of life, a new name, a “new to you” home, new address, a new day. New hopes and dreams are born, but not in the terms of “me,” or “my” but “ours.” It really is a magical experience. There are not too many little girls who don’t dream about the day they will get married. Pinterest has thousands of pins dedicated to the big day. Television shows are devoted entirely to the dress the bride will wear, cakes become works of art that are too beautiful to be eaten, white lights and yards of tool adorn churches and reception halls. These are just a few of the things that come to mind when I think about wedding bells getting ready to ring.
The day we say “I do.”
Do you remember yours? I still remember mine so clearly. I was so young and so naïve, but so excited to marry my best friend. No one told me how different BEING married was from GETTING married. So, I innocently walked down the aisle and said yes to a wonderful man. When I look back on the experience now, I am filled with thankfulness that this man I ended up with was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me. It might have gone so differently. But, we’ve made it. I’ve never made any bones about the fact that being married is tough, but I’m also the first to say that it is so worth it.
Last weekend my family made the trip down to my sister’s home in Florida to celebrate the engagement of her sweet girl. My family kind of reminds me of the family in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Yeah, you’re getting a better idea now. We think we have to celebrate everything together and no occasion is too small to celebrate. You can imagine what an event like this must mean to us, so we went down there in full form.
I wonder if her fiancé really knows what he’s getting himself into marrying into this family.
It helps that my niece is adorable. Of course I would think this, but honestly she is. If you know her you’ll agree that she is a joy. When her face comes to mind, it will always have a smile on it, even in your imagination. She’s just bubbly happy. And that happiness spills all over everyone she meets.
It’s just contagious.
It was with her in mind that we headed south. It’s not a long drive to their home, but it does make for a long weekend. We sped down there Saturday morning and headed back weary and fulfilled Sunday afternoon. We unpacked the vehicles and fell into bed. When I woke up this morning, all I could think was, “Seriously, how can it be morning already?” It felt as though I’d only slept a few minutes.
Let me explain.
We all knew that this man who won my niece’s heart was going to pop the question this weekend, but she was unaware. We planned and schemed and, Lord forgive, we lied to plan a surprise engagement party. My guilt ridden sister told me she was going to have to apologize profusely to her daughter and the Lord when this was over because she had told her so many falsehoods trying to keep the secret. I told her I’m confident the Lord wouldn’t hold it against her.
I hope I am right. 😉
We arrived at her home and were immediately put to work. That is what family is for, right? We lit candles, washed dishes, carved watermelon, filled party favor bags and helped put the final pieces into place. The guests began to drift in and the painful wait for the newly engaged couple to arrive began. When at last they did, the small crowd began to clap and cheer. My niece’s smile was as bright as the sun and her groom to be was glowing as well. Let me interrupt myself here and say how much I love to celebrate with others. I love to cheer on those around me and to be a part of their special moments. Days like these are forever burned into my heart.
Young love is so sweet.
I could tell you that we danced the night away, but honestly, we cooked hamburgers and hot dogs and laughed our heads off with joy. I guess you could call our joyful expressions a dance of the heart. Then, of course, made wedding plans. We took lots of pictures and blew up social media. We declared our excitement to the world and the world did not disappoint. Lots of texts, comments, and well wishes were passed along to the soon to be bride and groom. And if it were even possible, the young love birds glowed even more.
Once we polished off the food and after the sun began to set, the guests began to trickle away. We were left with the closest of friends and family, it was then our hearts began to wrap around what was next. One of our young was leaving the nest. Spreading her wings to fly on her own and to make her own way. Why does that feel so sad? And how can I feel so much excitement and sadness all at one time?
Life can be so conflicting.
Throughout all of the declarations of love and hopes for tomorrow, I began to think about my own daughter and those like her. The ones who have not met their “Mr. Right” but are patiently waiting for him to ride up on a white horse and steal their hearts. How through time and ages young women have wanted to be swept off their feet and made to feel like a princess. Watching my niece radiate reminded me that it really is worth the wait.
He really will be worth it.
Real, true, pure love is worth waiting for. It’s the kind that will stand the test of time. Deep love that endures hardship and children, broken dreams and loss. The white horse will ride away and the princess crown will fade, but true love presses on. No matter how your love story started or what it looks like now, it’s how the story finishes that matters. Oh, I love nights like the one we had, but I love hearing stories about love that endured just as much.
So, hang in there young woman of faith, God has your knight in shining armor for you. Don’t give up and don’t settle for anything less. I’m confident that my niece would agree with me as she wears her excitement and joy like a banner for all to see. She waited for the one and God did not disappoint.
He won’t disappoint you either.
Oh, when the party was over we started the unpleasant but necessary job of cleaning up. Then we stared at the ring and teased about hashtags and talked about wedding dresses. The guys stood around and swapped fishing stories and drove across town to return the borrowed tables and chairs. We helped put away food and hugged my sister goodnight. Left the party and promised to be readily available to help with the wedding.
Because that’s what a “Big Fat Greek” family is for, right?