I spent last week in California with one of my closest friends, as she prepared for her wedding on Friday. Bachelorette party, family dinners, centerpieces, Starbucks, packing, prayers, more Starbucks, deep breath, prayers, dresses, hair, makeup, flowers, breathe, photos, candles, napkins, speeches, tears – so many happy tears. It was an incredibly beautiful, busy week.
A week that I was sort of dreading.
For starters, aside from the bride herself, I had never met anyone in the wedding party, or even in attendance for that matter. That alone is enough to send this introvert brain into a bit of a panic. And then there is the single factor – the older I get, the more my singleness seems to stick out like a neon sign on my forehead. And weddings I have attended in recent years, even ones of friends, have left me feeling sad and sorry for myself.
A pretty self-centered approach, I know.
But this time, something changed.
Not too long ago I was talking to a friend about similar feelings I was having about attending another friend’s baby shower. Baby showers are also a reminder that I’m single – and that the older I get, the less likely it is that I will give birth to a child of my own. And then there are the well-meaning, shower guests simply trying to making conversation, who always seem to settle on the “how many kids do you have?” question.
No thank you.
I was trying not to talk myself out of going, and my friend responded with, “Don’t deprive that mom of your love and hope.”
In other words, get your eyes off of you, and go be there for your friend.
I went to the baby shower.
But those words also carried over into the trip to California for wedding week. And what I thought would be an emotional few days, reminding me of what I don’t yet have, turned out to be one of the most amazing weeks I’ve had in a long time, maybe ever. Thing is, when I stop looking at myself, stop going over and over what I’m lacking, I’m free to just be me. If I’m not looking at me, then I’m not comparing myself to anyone else. Few things wreck your joy faster than when you compare yourself to someone, anyone else.
And let me tell you, just being me is so much better than trying to be who I think people want to see.
Looking through photos from the week, you can see the difference in my eyes. It’s hard to put into words – except to say that the hope which has been defining and shaping my life the past few years has finally begun to settle into my heart, and you can see it in my eyes. Confidence in who I am.
It was an absolutely beautiful wedding and happy-tear-filled reception. There were touching speeches and lots of dancing, though I avoided the dance floor. Confidence and hope are growing in me, but it’s still a process. I don’t yet have the courage to ask someone to dance – or walk across the room to strike up a conversation. But soon I won’t be able to use “I’m an introvert” as an excuse.
There was only one moment when the tears were sad ones on Friday. The moment when I knew the day was coming to an end and I was about to hug the bride, this dear ‘Friend of my heart’ goodbye. But even that moment was filled with hope.
Thank you, God for the people in my life who love me enough to say the words I may not like, but need to hear, like “get your eyes off of yourself and go be there for your friend”. This week could have been hard, but instead it’s the beginning of confident hope.