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Never A Bridesmaid

I am jealous. Almost every woman I know has been a bridesmaid. Whether they were sisters, best friends, sorority sisters, high school friends, cousins, or coworkers, most women I know have stood by the side of someone they love, sharing in the most memorable day of their lives. Oh, we’ve all heard the down side: the expensive dresses, the drama, the hassles, and the exhaustion of creating a moment absolutely perfect for the one they love. But you know what I see? I see a woman chosen. So important in relationship, so belonging and connected to another, the bride can’t imagine her most important day without her. I see a woman who is indelibly remembered in photographs that will never been thrown away.
 
I’m not in anybody’s wedding album, and that leaves me a bit sad. Sad that somehow I missed the chance to be someone’s best friend in that season of life.  Now in my forties, I can look back and see some of what happened. I can take responsibility for some of those missed opportunities. I’ll admit, I was once asked to be a bridesmaid, but I had just birthed twins and the dress made me look like a truck driver. I literally asked if I could do anything else because I was so insecure in that dress. But for the most part, life just happened that way. I have some deep and meaningful relationships now – friends as close as sisters – but most of those didn’t start forming until, well, until I was left alone in a foreign country and stumbled into a women’s Bible study.
 
My husband and I had been married one year when the Army sent us to Germany. Two days of travel and two days of in-processing later, I’m sitting in a hotel on the Army post and my husband walks in, saying, “I’m being deployed.” Stunned, I put on my bravest army-wife face and help get things in order. I didn’t even have my German driver’s license yet. He left with his unit, and there I was. In a hotel. In a foreign country. Knowing no one. Unable to drive anywhere, I took a walk. I walked down unfamiliar, quiet roads, between buildings painted the same colors, with numbers posted outside to distinguish one office from another. Nearing a tree line against the boundary of the post, I looked up. Just above the tree line, I saw a steeple.  In my heart, I knew where there was a steeple, there was a piano, and where there was a piano, I had a friend to spend time with. I walked into the post chapel and met a German secretary who was more than happy to show me to the chapel and the baby grand piano. She left me to enjoy my time. In total silence, with no one around, I began to play. I felt a Presence in the room. Soon, I realized it was more than Holy Spirit, because I had an audience. Behind me, lined against the chapel walls were three Army Chaplains, tears streaming down their faces. One of them told me there had been a prophecy (I had no idea what that was at the time) that the piano bench would be filled before the next Sunday. They had been without a musician for some time, and they believed I was the answer to their prayers. What they didn’t know is they and their families would become the answer to mine.
 
The Chaplain’s wives became like family to me. While my husband was deployed, they had me over for coffee. They invited me to their Bible studies. They included me in family birthdays, Christmas and Easter. I saw them loving and raising their children. I watched as they studied the Word together, laughed, took trips together, and I was drawn into this lifestyle of sisterhood. I learned how to walk through conflict, deal with frustration, talk things out, ask forgiveness, be vulnerable, and how to be LOVED. My relationship with the Lord grew so rapidly, it seemed I was a different person each time my husband came home from another training exercise or deployment. Those three years in Germany changed my life forever. It created in me a desire for community that I didn’t know even existed before. I knew Jesus before I arrived, but now I knew KINGDOM. And SISTERHOOD.
 
Twenty years and fourteen addresses later, I have sisters all over the globe. Seasons may change, and I may never see some of them again this side of heaven, but we are inextricably linked for eternity. We have walked each other through marriage, divorce, infidelity, infertility, cancer, death, and the toddler years (yes, I put that right up there with the rest). We have shared peanut butter jelly sandwiches and disciplined each other’s children. We have celebrated each other and talked each other off of cliff edges. They have saved my life, encouraging me through seasons of despair and depression.
 
Back in college, someone once told me I was intimidating. She was a younger girl serving in student government with me. I saw her as beautiful, brilliant, and better than me. Her honestly stunned me and helped me realize the intensity of my focus made me unapproachable. Over the years, I’ve had many revelations of what I could change to better connect with women. Mostly, I’ve tried to become comfortable with vulnerability. Some friends have said they can’t believe how open I am with past mistakes. I tell them it’s worth the risk to me now. If the cost of my pride and the risk of embarrassment gains me connection and relationship, so be it. I know in my heart, I am in their photo albums, and our heavenly homes will be in the same neighborhood (preferably sharing a back yard). And, if the opportunity came again, I would be chosen. I would be their bridesmaid.
 
If you find yourself feeling lonely, not quite fitting in, not “belonging,” be encouraged. First, know Jesus DIED FOR YOU. That alone makes you most valuable and belonging to the Creator of the Universe. Second, know you have an enemy whose primary goal is to get you isolated, insulated, and convinced you don’t have a purpose or a place. See him for what he is and kick him in the teeth. Step forward, introduce yourself, open up, and take the risk. Be vulnerable and open to revelation through your sisters. And third, keep trying. We are human. We get distracted, busy, and fail countless times to see the human need around us for connection. It’s not you, it’s our fallen nature. I promise, if you keep trying, you will find your tribe. Some will be seasonal, many could be eternal. In kingdom sisterhood, we are all brides – brides of Christ. We are each equally as precious to Him and He created us for community. He has a forever photo album, and you are in it  – beautiful, connected, and belonging.

Comments

  1. You are such an encouraging lady. I could read or listen to you for hours! God is using you in such a wonderful way! You are so easy to connect with! May God continue to use you and to Bless you and your family!

  2. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart. Vulnerability can be scary but it sure helps to connect with others at a deeper level. Real.
    Thank you for serving our country in the army. Thank you for being brave when it was hard to be. That’s courage.

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