She walked down the aisle with tears glistening and made eye contact with so many of her guests, mouthing the words “thank you”. It was the first wedding I had been to where the bride did such a thing. Demonstrating so much humility and gratefulness with each step forward for the people standing in the pews. But there were so many things different about this wedding than most. For one the bride did not wear white. And for another, she was well over the culture’s standard age of marriage (which when I last checked was mid to late 20s). A 50 year-old-virgin, marrying a 50-something man who had also never been married. As she gave her testimony, I could not fathom the power in it. I could not wrap my brain around the anointing on her words. Not simply b/c she was a virgin, but simply b/c she did what her Father asked her to do.
The bride was a teacher and had her students who were present stand as she spoke a blessing over them:
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26)
She, who had waited, who had received His grace and peace and blessing, was passing it forward and blessing the next generation. I was so honored to witness God giving her the desire of her heart. So honored to know that this woman, who had faced and overcame cancer 2x, who had abstained from sexual immorality, and who has lived a full single life, was now entering into a new season, where her life would never be the same.
She shared that there was abuse in her home and that while many turn to destructive behaviors in an attempt to receive love, she had her brother there to model to her what a healthy relationship with a man looked like. This same brother was present on her special day. I could not help but reflect on my own story, which did not include the type of abuse she faced, but still I had found myself looking for love in all the wrong places. What grace God gave her to not make those same mistakes. What grace God gave her to experience a life of family and friends, travel and so many other blessed life experiences that did not include marriage and children, even though she carried those desires with her on her journey forward.
After the ceremony I spoke with a friend who shared her own struggle with falling short of this grace. She had lost hope that God had something better and she had settled, trying to find love in those wrong places. She, at one point in time, had desired that same testimony of the bride’s, but her testimony changed. I told my friend it is His grace on the bride’s life to give her this story, but we all have our own story and each of our stories have their own grace. Their own way of exalting Him. It is life and wisdom to now give me this perspective. To now see how different we all are and how unique the Father’s plan is for each of us. I can be encouraged by the wedding of a 50-year-old virgin. I can rejoice with her and that God was faithful in helping her wait and not to settle. And I can rejoice in my own story of falling and getting back up and falling again and getting back up. My own story of deliverance and learning wholeness.
I can rejoice in the imperfect, flawed, mess of a story I feel I’ve been given because I know the Father’s encouragement and joy for me comes through the getting back up. Comes through the overcoming. Comes through the perseverance to keep going even after all of the setbacks.
His grace is sufficient, His strength is made perfect in my weakness.