My little girl is getting married!  Kristin and Matt got engaged on Saturday night.  I jumped for joy at the news and then I cried a little bit.  A hundred snapshots flashed through the picture gallery in my mind –moments in time caught by the camera of Kristin riding her bike, playing dress-up with her brother (who she was able to make wear tights and makeup!), and posing with different boys for all the different occasions of her social life. 

I also remember a hundred conversations about dating, romance, sex, and the future.  In the midst of the normal heartbreaks of growing up, Kristin often lamented with all the drama of a teenage girl, “If this is the best time of my life, then I am doomed!” or “What am I waiting for?  I don’t believe in fairy tales!”  When Kristin called to tell me about her engagement and she kept repeating, “I can’t stop smiling,” I reminded her, “This is what you’ve been waiting for.”  And I prayed that as she enters into the dream of most young women, she would discover that human love, romance, and marriage is only a sign pointing to a far greater love, romance, and union.  In fact, every single one of the fifty million romance novels sold in America every year, every song a teenager sings about love, and every movie that tells a love story is about the greatest love story ever told.  The desire to be with another person is a desire, a longing, and a passion deep within our very bodies and souls so that we can know and believe in the love of God.

I will never forget the conversation that Kristin and I had several years ago.  We were talking about dating, sex, and love.  She asked a question that sent my head spinning and my heart pounding, “Mom, I’m wondering what the point is sometimes.  I mean, you say all the time that you love God, but look at your life!”

“What do you mean?” I asked tentatively.

“Well, your marriage fell apart.  Here you are alone and sad and worried about the future.  What is the point of God when there’s no guarantee He’ll make everything work in our lives?  What are you waiting for, Mom?”

My daughter has seen me hurt in relationships — in all kinds of relationships — especially in the heart-wrenching divorce that left us all reeling.  She has seen me struggle with despair and fear and wondered why she should wait on a God who seems to treat people so carelessly.  It is easy in response to failures in human relationships to translate our experience with flawed people onto our relationship with God.  Kristin’s question helped me see and remember the gifts of waiting that can nourish and sustain us in the midst of disappointment and heartache . . . .

*  That I’ve heard God whisper, “Sharon, I understand,” when I feared that no one really understood what I was going through.

*  That on one Valentine’s Day, during the benediction at church, my pastor prayed that we would know that, “God watches us while we sleep.  He listens to us breathe.  He sings over us, ‘Beautiful one, I love . . . Beautiful one, I adore.'”  I knew his words had been just for me.

*  That during the agony of daily decisions about Kristin and her brother, Graham, as well as in my desperate prayers for guidance, I experienced the peaceful knowing of God’s presence and leading.

*  That in all my failures in relationships that can collapse on me at times, leaving me feeling shame and self-contempt, I have heard anew the intimate words of Jesus, “I forgive your sins — every one.  I heal your diseases — every one.  I redeem you from hell and save your life!  I crown you with love and mercy — a paradise crown.  I wrap you in goodness — beauty eternal” (Psalm 103:3-5).

* That the gift even shows up in my dream.  I’ve had this recurring dream that I’m in heaven trying desperately to get through the throngs of people.  I finally make it through the crowd and see the One who is the object of everyone’s attention.  He holds out His arms to me, and I fall into Love.  I exclaim over and over, “This is real.  This is real.”

Marriage is a taste (a wonderful taste) of a banquet we will eat in heaven with the perfect Lover of our souls — the One who knows us fully, accepts us unconditionally, and loves us eternally.  I pray for Matt and Kristin that they will be a gift to one another, and I rest in knowing that God is using their relationship to romance them to Himself, which is the greatest gift of all.

“If I am lifted up . . . I will romance all men unto me.”  John 12:32