October 21st was the date I had reserved for a wedding that simply wasn’t meant to be. Deposits had been paid, dresses had been purchased, a small mountain of mason jars collected for months in my parent’s garage (sorry, Dad). My clients trilled with excitement at every appointment, asking what had been done and if there was anything left that they could help me with. My friends decorated my home with wine glasses, photos, and bridal magazines. It seemed everything was coming together but in actuality it was falling apart at the seams.
The day the wedding was cancelled I went into work, putting on my best “waitress face”. I was going to fake it through that day if it killed me. My first client was my best friend from junior high school. She had helped me transition to life in Yucaipa and after some time apart we had reunited (and it felt so good! Haha!). I had styled her hair for her wedding a few months prior and she had been one of my biggest supporters through the engagement process. When she walked in the salon with a handmade hanger for my gown reading my ex’s last name in wire I lost my marbles. My next client was a woman who is like a mother to me. She had booked an appointment the day before, not even knowing if she needed a service, she just felt that she needed to come in. When she did, she brought my wedding invitations with her and I wept. It seemed like the cruelest joke was being played on me.
Looking back on that day, it is no surprise to me that my schedule was filled to the brim with people who truly loved me. From that point forward it became abundantly clear that God was going to use each of my best friends’ unique characteristics to serve a purpose in my life during this trial. For months, each woman stood by my side at some point or another offering their gentle strength. My friends that are expressive talked and reasoned with me. My friends that are more reserved, held me when I was frozen in fear. My sisters offered their innocence and humor, my mom shared her experience and passion. My grandmothers brought grace and compassion to this experience.
If you had asked me during all of that if I would ever be thankful for what was happening I would have thought you were a lunatic. How could one ever be thankful for being brought to the edge of their sanity? I am not sure if time truly heals all wounds or if it is just by the grace of God that the further we are removed from our personal hell the less we can remember of it. What I can say now is that I am thankful. I am so deeply grateful for an experience that gutted my heart of what was unclean and painful and filled it with so much more.
On October 20th, my best friends and family all rallied together. We all wore white. We all boarded a dinner cruise in the Newport harbor. We danced, and laughed, and shared memories to last a life time. We joked that the man-made harbor was fake and so are weddings (totally kidding, ya’ll, some weddings are real!). I am now wearing a ring that signifies my freedom. Freedom to be who I am, a dorky, red lipstick wearing, passionate person. This event was called a Better Than a Wedding Party and that it truly was. It also may have been a Tyler Perry movie in the making but that is in the works!
Did I plan on things going this way? Hell no. I know now that this may have been the only way. My life is filled with so much more now. My heart is at peace, and has healed from a season at war. My days are filled with my friends, my family, and the promise of so many better tomorrows. I can see that the people in my life were used to their best capacity. Your strengths were my strengths. Thank you for letting me lean on you, thank you for understanding what was impossible to understand. Thank you for not giving up on me.
The day that was supposed to bind me to one actually served to bind me to many, many more beautiful people. I am learning to be present in every moment of this season of grace. I stood with my hands empty and they are being filled
with treasure. My life will never be the same and this weekend couldn’t have been better.