“I have to go now.” Tom whispers the words, his lips brushing my hair. “I love you.” To my ears, the phrase is a benediction.
He gathers his jacket, keys, and cell phone, then pauses at the door. When I look up to meet his eyes, he says it again. “I love you, Cara.” I nod and study the patterns on the carpet. Tom’s footsteps fade into the night.
I am left alone on the couch, hugging my knees and willing the pounding of my heart to cease. After a few moments, when I rest my face in my hands, I find that my cheeks radiate heat despite the chilly apartment.
Oh, Lord, this is so hard!
When my conflicted heart has stopped its racing, I walk into the dining room, now strewn with silk flowers, votive candles, and tulle—the oddments that presently define my life. In two weeks, I will stand beside Tom—my prince, my beloved—and together we will offer our lives to God.
Two weeks! Father, why do we have to wait? I know You’ve blessed our commitment to each other...and Lord, I love him so much…we’ve waited almost a year. Isn’t that enough?
I do not wait for God’s familiar voice; instead, I heed my feet, which have developed an urgent need to pace. Sighing, I make a listless effort to organize the cluttered room. Gathering an armful of red roses and white lace—my misguided effort at attempting to create a centerpiece—I enter the spare room, dropping the items on the daybed. The roses have begun to wither, their scent a mixture of perfume and decay. A smear of red has stained one lacy remnant.
Turning away from the soiled fabric, I snatch up the phone and press seven familiar numbers. “Tom…come back.”
“Sweetheart, is everything all right?”
“Just come back. I…I need you here.”
Silence fills the distance between us, and I know that Tom is praying for strength. Oh, Tom…
“Cara, I’m going home. I love you.”
I cradle the phone, swallowing hard, and once again survey the odds and ends on the table. A folded paper catches my eye—I open it and read the vows that Tom wrote for me just a few hours ago.
“…And I will take you as my bride forever, truly, I will take you as my bride in righteousness…” The rest of the words blur, and my knees weaken. There is an itching in my spirit. It will not go away, I know, until I have taken this longing to the feet of my Redeemer.
I fall face down on my bed and weep—with repentance for my moments of impatience and petulance, with thankfulness that God has led me to this strong and righteous man, with joy that Tom’s strength is enough for both of us.
After several minutes, my spirit soothed, I stand and open the closet doors. My veil hangs there, next to a frothy white gown. I lift it gently and secure the combs to my disheveled hair. Although I am wearing faded jeans and a fraying sweatshirt, as I draw the veil over my face, I feel—for the first time—like a bride.
Scripture quoted is from Hosea 2:19, BBE
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