Last month two of my very good friends got engaged. It’s so fun to celebrate with them as they see the fulfillment of years of prayers being answered. I started thinking about all of the weddings I’ve attended since college and actually made a list. In the past 13 years, I’ve been to 32 weddings! You know what they say: 32 times a guest of the bride but never the bride … or something like that.
I went to the vast majority of those weddings as a single gal and never actually had a plus one. I celebrated my friends who had found love, while wondering if I ever would. Some weddings were easy to attend, and some were hard. When my two very best friends got married three months apart, I threw myself a pity party on more than one occasion.
I wish I could say my heart was 100 percent truly happy at every single wedding I went to, but that isn’t true. Of course I was thrilled for my friends and was nothing but enthusiastic and happy at all of the festivities. But sometimes I struggled to keep the envy at bay. Sometimes I lost hope and let disappointment bring me down. Sometimes I’d come home from a reception, kick off my fancy heels, and in a quiet moment wonder if God had forgotten about me. I wondered if any man would ever tear up as I walked down the aisle. Would I ever know what it was like to experience a life-long love? Would it ever be my turn to put on the white dress and change my last name?
But the reality is we are called to be joyful, even when it costs us something. It’s not easy to celebrate when God answers a prayer in someone else’s life, but I’m learning that a sign of spiritual maturity is being able to do that. I often prayed for God to give me genuine happiness at each wedding and to view each ceremony as a reminder of that way God pursues me and loves me with His perfect love. I prayed for God to remind me that marriage is but a taste of the Gospel love that is found in a relationship with Him.
I read a post from a Christian blogger as she explained why she loves planning bachelorette parties for her engaged friends. Her explanation struck a chord with me: “Regardless of where we are in our journeys or relational statuses, being invited into someone else’s journey is always an honor. And from that honor springs great joy. Sharing that joy is why I plan bachelorette parties.”
As a wedding guest, we are more than just a friend who will buy the couple a wedding gift in exchange for a meal at the reception. We are a witness to a union that is holy and illustrates God’s relationship with us. We are agreeing, by our presence at the ceremony, that God has done a good work in bringing two people together, and we are offering our support to them in their marriage. And that is an honor. To share in that is a precious thing.
As I prepare to attend weddings No. 33 and No. 34, that’s my prayer. That I would see each wedding as a way to share in someone else’s joy, no matter how it affects me.