Brace yourselves, friends: wedding season is here!
One of my favorite parts of ministry life is helping starry-eyed couples prepare for their big day (and the years that will follow). While it’s tempting to place a huge focus on the wedding itself, there are some personal investments you can make to grow your soul between “Will you?” and “I do.” I’d like to offer some helps I’ve gathered for a soon-to-be bride to flourish spiritually.
Our church just wrapped up a series on Psalm 23, but my fleece-covered heart isn’t quite finished processing it yet. I need to sit in those truths just a little longer, let the Shepherd do what He does. The marvelous thing about Scripture is that we never really “master” it—the more we grow and learn and practice, the more Scripture masters us, and the more we grow and learn and practice. It’s a flower that never stops blooming, and we’re botanists who never get bored.
Confession time: I’m a complete nerd. I love learning, period, but I currently especially love learning about how God wired me. (If you’re with me in this nerd boat, hello!)
One of my favorite parts of the recent training for church planters’ wives was unredeemed relating styles. It was not a pretty or easy process, but man, did God work through it! There were four options: Little Girl, Nice Girl, Tough Girl, and Party Girl. After filling out a survey, to my surprise, I found that I’m primarily a Tough Girl.
Have you ever felt bored during church worship? People are yawning, Granny’s in the back sleeping, friends are texting on their cell phones. No wonder non-Christians see this as lame: it is lame, forcing ourselves to sit through it because it’s what we should do. It’s what makes God happy, right? No. He’s probably drooling at the same time we are when we “worship” this way.
Mother’s Day is almost upon us, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of baggage it brings. What about the women struggling with infertility? Or the ones who lost a mama this year? Or whose child passed away? Or whose estranged mother brings up painful memories of abuse or neglect? Or a myriad of other wounded places revolving around the concept of mothering?
There is a quiet space in the gospel for you, room to breathe and grieve and rest and hope for glimpses of all things made new. We are loved by a God who doesn’t think moms are beneath relating to. He pulls them close, whispering, “My love for you is like this.” I mean, look at Hosea 13:8. Or Isaiah 66:13. Or Matthew 33:27. Despite His masculinity, the Lord also embraces us in gentle kindness, nurturing and cultivating our hearts like a good mama would.
My husband had a full-on conversation with a grandma dressed in one of those huge t-shirts with a bikini-clad body printed on it, completely oblivious to the rest of the camp staff’s smirks. It didn’t even register. Mrs. Geraldine had just wanted to play a prank on this new youth pastor and tease him about the strict dress code, but his lack of observational prowess made the situation funnier than it would have been if he’d caught on right away (or at all before someone eventually had to point it out to him).
Have there been instances where you seemed unseen? Unobserved? Invisible? I’ve always wrestled with feeling like a translucent jellyfish in a vast sea of more colorful creatures.
I went to my first training for church planters’ wives last week and have been processing ever since. If you don’t mind, I’d love to share a new tool I picked up that I’ve used several times already: what I call the fig leaf exchange. Let’s set the scene.
Pastor Pete Briscoe says that “religion is a course in fig leaf making.” Genesis 3 can be summed up like this: because Adam and Eve disobey God, they realize that their previously innocent nakedness has become embarrassing. They sew fig leaves together and hide from God until He confronts them. Even after the curse is spoken, God makes them real clothing from an animal and sends them out into the world.
Spring carries with her a basket of sweet-smelling fresh fruits. She weaves between the picnic-goers and the bankers and the homeless men with eyes that don’t see. Her scent follows behind joyously. She is no respecter of persons: the new buds are for everyone. Those tiny speckled eggs, this flower-spiced breeze, that quick rainfall—it is for the just and the unjust alike. And God smiles a bit more as He gives such good gifts.
A new season is officially in full bloom, and what a dazzling time to look for the presence and presents of a good God. Keep your eyes open for signs of life; even though we breathe the air of a fallen world, there are glimpses of glory all around us. Redemption fights back the dark in a beautiful leaf or a well-spoken word. Tear out an image from a magazine. Find a new recipe. Start up a fresh playlist. The world is your oyster, and God loves making pearls. So pry the top off of a clean mason jar and start collecting every bit of light you can get your hands on!