Debussy’s First Arabesque sings to me, even before the doors are pulled apart, even before I put one foot in front of the other, resting on my dad’s arm. The laughing, dancing melody swirls down the 100-foot aisle, wraps itself around me like magic and pulls me forward. It must take two minutes, but it feels like 10 seconds. The faces are a blur, but I can tell they’re stretched into euphoric smiles.
And then I see him.
Navy suit. Coral bow tie. Kind, moist eyes. Strong, steadfast smile.
There’s a sudden, warm wetness in my eyes, as well as an unexpected urge to giggle. Is this really happening or is it just a beautiful dream?
Little Girl Dreams
As a little girl, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a missionary, and I wanted to get married by age 20.
I started scouting for Mr. Right around age nine, a little cougar prowling after the Sunday school boys with their trusty slingshots and tattered, oversized Bibles. What got me through high school were my dreams of walking down the aisle in a sparkly pink dress to a handsome prince.
So when I walked down the aisle at age 29, not only was it nine years “late,” but it was also nothing like I dreamed it would be.
It was better.
In order to explain, I have to fill you in on those nine years called my 20s.
My Single 20s
My early 20s were full of whimpered complaints to God and lonely aches. Nighttime was the worst. That’s when the loneliness was suffocating in intensity, and I’d wake up feeling like I couldn’t breathe in the overwhelming emptiness.
I kept asking God why I had to be single, why I hadn’t met anyone I could see myself marrying. In return, He kept asking me to trust Him. As He built my trust through small answered prayers, it seemed He was remaking a Verizon commercial: “Can you trust me now? How about now?”
Halfway through my 20s, after working a full-time job for four years, getting my master’s degree, embarking on several mission trips and leading girls’ Bible studies, I released my first book: The Insatiable Quest for Beauty. My dad then suggested I quit my job and try speaking full-time. “After all,” he said, “you’re single. What do you have to lose?”
And then it all snapped into place. I floated on purpose, a sense of destiny. Singleness held meaning and promise instead of empty barrenness.
But still…the nights. The long nights by myself in strange hotels. The feeling of suffocating in my loneliness. The sense that my husband was missing out on so many adventures that he could be sharing with me.
God didn’t take away the loneliness. He didn’t tell me I should give up my desire for marriage in order to be truly content. Instead, He showed me that He was the One sharing all these moments with me. He was the One who made the emptiness full.
There’s so much I took away from this time. Things like: Life is full of waiting seasons and unmet desires, which draw us closer to the Lord, if we’ll let them. Or that contentment isn’t losing our desire for something; it’s simply a surrendered state of heart. Those things are true. But there was only one thing that changed everything for me:
I realized that this was my Father-daughter time.
I got to do life as just me and God for a short season. (It didn’t feel short at the time, when everyone else seemed to have a man, but in retrospect it seemed sweet and brief, like I was just getting the hang of it, and then it was over.)
We made memories together—God and me. We cried and laughed together, shared everything together. I thought I was missing out on so much life that I could be sharing with my future husband, only to realize I wasn’t missing anything. I was sharing all of it already!
There are still more adventures to come with my Father, but now there are three of us instead of two. It’s just different now.
Worth the Wait
And that’s why I’m thankful, here in my white dress, soaring toward my soon-to-be husband on the melodic wings of Debussy. Because instead of letting my Father-daughter time pass me by, I embraced it.
Please don’t misunderstand—marrying young is a gift from God. But waiting to marry later? I learned that is also a gift.
Today is nine years later than I originally thought it should be, but it’s perfect, just like I wrote last night in my diary:
“It has been worth every single day, month, and year that I’ve waited. None of that time has been empty or meaningless. All of it has been full. I could cry thinking about it: how every moment has been shared with you, Lord. We’ve spent these last 29 years together, just you and me, a Father-daughter team. We’ve had so many adventures, and I’ve gotten to know you so much more. I am so grateful this dream took so long in coming. And now that it’s here, it’s sweeter than I ever thought it would be. Thank you. It was totally worth the wait.”
[Photos by Chelsea Ahl Photography]