Confidence mixed with caution, I held my bouquet like it was my job. Shoulders back, chin lifted and core tight, my Carolina blue dress rhythmically swayed to the dancing breeze of the music.
Hidden behind my confident stride was a cautious fear of rolling my ankle. Well aware that wedges and nature do not mix, I shifted my gaze every so often from the wedding guests to the countless acorns, sticks, and rocks in the grass. (The squirrels forgot to remove them prior to the outdoor ceremony.)
Ashley Tripp was NOT about to “trip” down the aisle.
Once I successfully made it to my designated spot, I silently shouted a congratulations speech to myself, wondering if the wedding guests could read “First Time Bridesmaid” written on my forehead.
Don’t lock your legs, Ash, and for goodness sakes, don’t pass out.
Standing side-by-side with my fellow bridesmaids, my perspective allowed me to see every expression on the groom’s face. His infectious laughter, honest tears and assertive vows exuded passion. I prayed silently, interlacing my fingers on the stems of the bouquet.
I cried out to God in three simple words: “I want this.”
I want a husband, for better or for worse. And this specific want cuts so much deeper than a diamond cut on an engagement ring. I want:
- A best friend to challenge me in my faith
- A partner to grow together in the gospel
- A protector to point out my sins
- A companion to love me unconditionally
- A teammate to cheer on my favorite football team regardless of their collegiate affiliation (but for real though)
Ultimately, I desire a husband who selflessly strives to love me as Jesus loves me, inspiring me to be the person God created me to be.
About a month after Keira and Tanner’s rose garden ceremony, I randomly selected Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage off my roommate’s bookshelf. Curiosity leads me to wonder what the author’s perspectives were on this subject.
Four pages into the introduction, Keller spoke directly to me:
My main rationale was that single people today need a brutally realistic yet glorious vision of what marriage is and can be… Single people cannot live their lives well as singles without a balanced, informed view of marriage. If they do not have that, they will either over-desire or under-desire marriage.
I inhaled every word like salted buttery popcorn at a midnight movie premiere as God’s whispers permeated throughout all eight chapters. Several Paper Mate pen marks and 240 pages later, Keller supplied me with a wealth of knowledge on:
- The Secret of Marriage
- The Power of Marriage
- The Essence of Marriage
- The Mission of Marriage
- Loving the Stranger
- Embracing the Other
- Singleness and Marriage
- Sex and Marriage
If you’re single and desire marriage like me, the aisle can feel less like a red carpet and more like The Green Mile, or as Keller puts it “a purgatory, where you live waiting for your real life to begin, or a worst a misery.” Your craving for marriage may even feel like that craving we ALL get on Sundays for Chick-fil-A. (pretty self-explanatory)
But ladies, have faith. Trust in God’s timing. Be joyful always and give thanks for where God has you at this very moment, even if your ring finger looks a little lonely.
For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. Psalm 84:11
The way you view marriage can impact the rest of your life. So why not dive deeper into the meaning of marriage by incorporating a few of Keller’s profound quotes into your season of singleness:
1. You’ve Got a Friend in Me
Screen first for friendship. Look for someone who understands you better than you do yourself, who makes you a better person by just being around them. And then explore whether that friendship could become a romance and a marriage.
2. Build Me Up Buttercup
If we look to our spouses to fill up our tanks in a way that only God can do, we are demanding an impossibility… We should be neither overly elated by getting married nor overly disappointed by not being so- because Christ is the only spouse that can truly fulfill us and God’s family the only family that will truly embrace and satisfy us.
3. Come Together
God’s concern is not about marrying outside of one’s race but outside one’s faith.
4. Blank Canvas
My wife, Kathy, often says that most people, when they are looking for a spouse, are looking for a finished statue when they should be looking for a wonderful block of marble. Not so you can create the kind of person you want, but rather because you see what kind of person Jesus is making.
5. True Colors
[Marriage] doesn’t create your weaknesses (though you may blame your spouse for your blow-ups)- it reveals them… You must realize that it isn’t ultimately your spouse who is exposing the sinfulness of your heart- it’s marriage itself. Marriage does not so much bring you into confrontation with your spouse as confront you with yourself.
6. Found Upon A Rock
Imagine a house with an A-frame structure. The two sides of the home meet at the top and hold one another up. But underneath, the foundation holds up both sides. So the covenant with and before God strengthens the partners to make a covenant with each other. Marriage is therefore the deepest of human covenants.