Shelley and I had an interesting start to our friendship. I first remember seeing her in church one Sunday morning. She was wearing a brown sundress and had this gorgeous long, blonde hair. And what interested me about her was how she worshipped. And while I should have been worshipping and singing myself, I was captivated by her abandon in worship and how she was clearly in love with God. I knew that day that I wanted to know this young woman.
Quite a bit of time after that first encounter, I found myself sitting next to her at a Bible study and tried to strike up a conversation. I don't even remember what happened or what led to it, but it was a train wreck of a conversation. I am pretty sure I put my foot in my mouth and said something just totally wrong and then I completely shut down, as did she. It was very awkward and we sat next to one another the rest of that night in silence.
After a few days passed, I sent her a note apologizing for what I had said and what happened and explaining to her what had been going on for me. Again, I can't remember what was said, but an apology was in order. I had so wanted to get to know her and that conversation had gone terribly wrong. She wrote back with a very gracious reply and accepted my apology. We were able to meet up for conversation and coffee, and thus began a wonderful friendship. I am so grateful that she was willing to forgive me and that a friendship was able to blossom out of such an awkward start.
Our friendship exists on this deep and intimate level. I can't tell you what her favorite color is or her favorite kind of music, but I could tell you about her heart and her longings and desires and her story - that was how we knew one another. There were weekends where she would come and stay and we would just talk and enjoy conversation and coffee. I always felt rejuvenated after spending time in her presence. She left me feeling as though I had just encountered some wonderful thing and being with her always left my heart full.
Her marriage was something to celebrate. And last weekend, there was much celebrating.
We danced and sang and talked and cried. It was a lovely time.
Friday night after the rehearsal dinner, we sat together at a table and let out squeals that tomorrow was going to be the day she was getting married. Shelley's story is not mine to share. But as I thought about her, I was reminded of redemption and how Jesus is the Great Redeemer. The three of us (Shelley, her best friend and maid of honor Heather, and myself) sat in this moment as we all remembered what God had done. Only He could make her story this beautiful.
And oh. It was beautiful indeed. From her dress, to the ceremony, and the dancing - it was all so very beautiful. When the preacher announced them as husband and wife, she lifted her hand in worship - one of the many times I had tears that day. It took me back to the first Sunday morning that I saw her, and it was such an honor to be there and witness this glorious marriage ceremony take place.
A picture of redemption. Glorious, beautiful, amazing redemption. Only God can create pictures like this. My friend Shelley and her wonderful husband.
More to come this week on redemption as there was a bit of that this weekend for me as well....