Lily stood with her back to the assembled wedding guests, trying not to watch the first kiss as husband and wife which was occurring between Barry and Grace Madison, Lily’s ex-fiance and her (formerly) best friend. She concentrated instead on the Best Man with whom she was paired to walk the Recessional.
It was doubtful that anyone farther away than Artie, the Best Man and a dear friend, would notice the tears in Lily’s eyes, and Artie was all too familiar with Lily’s heartbreak to be surprised by the sight.
Lily was certain that Grace was blissfully unaware of the wounded heart beating away behind the lavender-colored bodice of her Maid of Honor.
Lily did her duty in the receiving line, before quietly edging out the side door of the reception hall. But ever-attentive Artie caught up with her and literally shoved her outside, walking her briskly through the parking lot toward her car.
“Time to talk to me, Lily,” he said.
She grabbed her keys from the small evening bag she carried and beeped the lock release. “Nothing to talk about, Artie,” she said firmly. “So yes, I was engaged to Barry, then he and Grace decided to spend a weekend together at a ski lodge where he was supposedly spending a last fling with the guys before our wedding, and the next thing I know I’m telling her that Yes, I’ll be her Maid of Honor and I’m so happy for them. What a difference three short months can make, huh?”
“And that’s why you cried through the ceremony,” Artie countered, “because you’re so happy for them.”
“Not your business, Artie.”
“You know I care about you, Lily,” Artie gave her a brotherly hug. “And you’ll feel better when you’ve forgiven and forgotten.”
“Forgiven…yes, I have to do that, don’t I? But I don’t have to forget, and I won’t. Now, let me go home….”
Life does go on, Lily mused, gazing out her high-rise office window at the plaza below. There were even occasional days when she thought of Barry Madison only once—well, maybe twice. Actually she thought of Grace much more frequently, and like an ungovernable tongue which insisted on probing a painful tooth cavity, her thoughts returned to the betrayal and measured the depth and width of the pain still throbbing in her psyche.
For the first year, she chalked up her disturbed sleep, headaches and cranky digestive system to the upheaval in her life, since she had accepted the contract job in a distant city which she’d agreed on prior to the Madisons’ marriage. Four years later, Lily found herself still awash in the hurt and negative emotions she’d thought she’d left behind.
How long was this pain supposed to last? She’d forgiven Barry and Grace. But it was impossible to forget. Just humanly impossible.
She’d allowed herself to have occasional relationships, thinking perhaps a new love would alter the direction of her thinking. In each case, were she to test her emotional state with a thermometer, she was certain it would read considerably less than room temperature. It was like experiencing an extended and abnormally chilly winter.
Throughout those years, Lily remained faithful to her church fellowship, regular prayer and scripture study. And still, as tears fell watching others respond warmly to what seemed a very real spiritual experience, Lily was unable to allow herself to trust her emotions.
Until a scripture study focused on the 6th chapter of Matthew, which encompasses what is known as The Lord’s Prayer. Like most Christians, Lily had memorized the prayer, repeated it at gathering after gathering, knew the words so well she habitually passed over them when her daily devotions reached that passage of scripture.
However, on this occasion, it was as though a neon sign were flashing the words from Matthew 6:15 (The Message translation): “You can’t get forgiveness from God…without forgiving others.” When at last she grasped the deep meaning in that passage, she realized what was keeping the warmth of the Son from bringing summer back to her life.
She asked that God perform a miracle of forgiveness in her and through her, and knew at that moment that she had released Barry and Grace Madison’s future to the loving care of God.
Shortly after, she received a letter from Artie. As happens with God’s timing, Lily was ready to receive the unconditional love offered by the “best man” who had been keeping warm thoughts of Lily tucked away in his heart.
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