Sermon tonight very good. Peter spoke on Philippians 4. Always like it when Peter preaches: he gets right into the guts of the passage. “Paul knew the secret of being content,” he said, “because he knew Christ and Christ was his strength—in times of plenty and times of struggle.”
Christ was his strength. I like that. Wish I could be more content.
Why oh why do I not have a boyfriend???
Came home from work to find Kim in the dining room tearing her hair out over the reception seating arrangements. Mark was in the kitchen calmly making tea. Told him it was supposed to be my turn to cook. Got shooed away. “Go see if you can help Kim figure it out,” he said, as if the placement of guests were an algebraic puzzle.
Did not want to go help Kim. Did not want to listen to Kim moan about her second cousins (twice removed) who had to be invited—all fourteen of them—because Kim's mother insisted, even though no one in the family had laid eyes on them in twenty years. Did not want to be reminded yet again that, even though I met Mark first and then introduced him to Kim, God had other plans.
Went to help her anyway. Spent half an hour trying out every possible permutation of table seating for Kim's family (“I can't put Uncle Fred next to Great-Aunt Molly; she's never forgiven him for running over her cat with a lawnmower.”) before Mark emerged with three bowls of steaming chili coconut basil chicken on rice and a perfect solution to the seating problem: “Why don't we put your family with my family? Your Great-Aunt Molly could go next to my grandma.” Kim promptly declared Mark to be a genius and swept my seating suggestions onto the floor in her delight.
Spent rest of evening in front of the telly.
One month 'til the wedding.
Have stoically decided not to worry about boyfriend problem and enjoy being single. Must repeat to self when tempted to self-pity, “I am part of the bride of Christ. I am part of the bride of Christ.”
New guy at Bible Study tonight—very cute: brown curly hair and foresty green eyes. Name's Chris (short for “Christian”). Friend of Luke and Sarah's. Just moved to the area and wants to start coming to our church. Stepped on his foot by accident when breezing into the kitchen to serve everyone by making them cups of tea. He was talking to Luke near the door. Got all red and embarrassed. He was very nice about it—made some joke which I can't remember because I was trying to look blithe and busy, taking out milk and sugar and filling up the kettle. Wondered aloud why the red light wouldn't go on. Luke tactfully reached past me and flicked the powerpoint switch. Oh Lord, Chris is going to think I'm such an idiot! Tried to look inconspicuous for rest of study—did not open mouth.
Ridiculous to be worrying about what some strange guy thinks of me; should care more about what God thinks of me. Got inspired by Luke saying last night that he tries to read the Bible all the way through every year: “That way, in five years, you would have read the Bible five times. You start to pick up different things you never noticed before.”
Sat down with Bible this evening and read through Genesis 1-12. Who needs men when I have God?
Mark taking Kim to do “dinner and a movie” tonight to celebrate their last month of engagement. At first Kim didn't want to go—“I've got too much to do before the wedding!” She was eventually persuaded when I promised to stuff 200 little gold bags full of wedding chocolates and gold confetti stars while she was out. “Thanks heaps, Bridge, you're a saint!” she said as she was going out the door. Spent the next three hours stuffing bags while watching You've Got Mail! on the telly. Got gold stars all over the lounge room floor and ran out of chocolates so I was only able to make 150. Left note for Kim. Read Genesis 13-25 and went to bed early.
Good thing I went to bed early. Kim was up with the sun, freaking out about wedding chocolates. Was on the phone to Mark, her mum and her other two bridesmaids for three hours this morning. Walked passed to hear her say, “No we can't just get any sort of chocolates. They've got to match! Otherwise people will wonder why they got different ones to everyone else.” Tried to reassure her between phone calls that her guests wouldn't care. Reminded her that her makeup and hair trial was at 11 and she still wasn't dressed. She promptly forgot about the chocolates and jumped in the shower.
Was late to the hairdresser's. Nicole and Sally very forgiving, commiserating with Kim about the chocolate disaster. Hairdresser got booking wrong: booked for three girls (one bride, two bridesmaids) instead of four (one bride, three bridesmaids). Kim's hair trial was going to take twice as long as everyone else's and Nic and Sal were on a tight schedule. (“Bridget, would you mind ...?”) Ended up twiddling my thumbs and reading silly women's magazines while waiting. Took them three hours to do all of us. Final results on me were no where near as glamourous as on Nic and Sal but then they have the tall slim curvy figure to support the barrel curl thing which Kim wanted us to have. My pear-shaped thick-thighed Rubenesque stature just doesn't cut it.
Sometimes wish there was no resurrection of the body; definitely don't want mine back
Ah ... Sunday, the day of rest! Was going to sleep in but was awakened by loud noise in the hall. Poked my head blearily out the door to find Kim shooing me back to bed, mouthing “Sorry!” while Mark, Greg (his best man) and Josh (one of his groomsmen) broke their backs trying to carry a large wooden wardrobe into Kim's room. Mark's furniture is slowly colonising this flat. Must start looking for a new place soon.
Asked around before church if anyone knew of anyone wanting a flatmate. Sarah said she'd keep her ears open for me. She knew of two girls who were thinking of moving out of home so they could be closer to Uni but they weren't going to do that until July. Anyway I'm not sure if living with Uni students is a good idea since they usually move on or move out in a couple of years. I'd like to find somewhere where I could stay put for at least five turns around the sun. I've spent eighteen months living with Kim and before that it was one year and before that it was six months ... I'm a bit sick of hauling my furniture in and out of places.
We started a new sermon series tonight on “Knowing God”. Think Andrew was inspired from reading J.I. Packer. Unfortunately fell asleep during his talk so have no idea what he said. I always fall asleep in Andrew's sermons, no matter how hard I try to stay awake. It's not that knowing God is an extremely boring topic. It's something about his voice, so soothing and monotone. Reminds me of those relaxation tapes my mum used to make me listen to.
During supper spotted Mark and Chris standing in a corner deep in conversation. (How does Mark know Chris???) Tried to remain unnoticed but was waved over.
“Bridget, do you remember me telling you about my ‘mysterious’ third groomsman whom I've known since primary school and who's been in Canada for the last two years?” said Mark. “Well, he's finally come back and he's now coming to our church. Chris, this is Bridget. Bridget, this is Chris.”
“Oh, we've already met—at Luke and Sarah's on Thursday. She makes a mean cup of tea,” said Chris.
At just that moment, I couldn't help looking up into his very green eyes that remind me of alpine forests and then—(oh Lord!)—he smiled at me!
Mark looked surprised but quickly recovered. “Good! I'm glad you guys have already met and gotten to know each other. It makes it easier—especially since you've got less than a month to practise for the bridal waltz.”
“B—bridal waltz?” I stammered.
“Yes, Bridget, you remember ... you'll be dancing with Chris.”
Came home from work and was immediately pounced upon by Kim. “You didn't tell me you met Mark's friend Chris last Thursday!” she said.
“I didn't know he was Mark's friend. I thought he was Luke and Sarah's friend.”
“He's that too,” she said, following me around the flat as I dumped my stuff and went into the kitchen for a drink. “In fact, he knows just about everyone in the church—two degrees of separation, Christian circles and all that. What did you think of him?”
“He's a nice guy,” I said, then drained my apple juice in one gulp.
“And?” said Kim, a little too eagerly.
“He made a very amusing joke after I stepped on his foot.”
“Oh.” She sounded somewhat disappointed. Then busied herself by flipping through a bridal magazine while I started preparing dinner. “He's our age, you know. Very clever. Did his Honours on the Peloponnesian War and got the University Medal. Could have gone on to do a PhD but then he decided to take up teaching and go overseas to do part-time Bible college. I think he was also involved with some ministry to street kids there. Spent hours hanging out with them, talking to them about Jesus. Pretty impressive, hey?”
I muttered something noncommittal while peeling carrots over the sink. Kim paused.
“He's single, you know. You guys would be good together. Why don't you ask him out?”
I am part of the bride of Christ.
I am part of the bride of Christ.
I am part of the bride of Christ!
God, it's very hard to be single when you put exceptionally good-looking men in my path.
Especially good-looking men that my friends want to set me up with.
It's not that I don't appreciate your efforts ... or theirs ... but ...
Are you trying to tell me something?
Spent too long getting ready for Bible study (thinking about Chris's smile) so was slightly late. Thought that nobody would notice because everyone's usually late anyway. Not this week: all eyes were on me when I came through the door. (“Bridget! We were just about to send out a search party for you!”)
Forced myself to pay attention and not be distracted by Chris' presence by trying to answer every question for Luke's study on 1 Peter 1 and the salvation of Christ. Felt quite pleased with self; hadn't done or said anything embarrassing and was displaying Godly wisdom and extensive Bible knowledge.
Afterwards, decided to serve everyone by washing up all the coffee mugs. Couldn't get them all in one round and was going to go out again for the rest but found that Chris, who had followed me into the kitchen, had already done it.
“Good study,” he said, grabbing a tea towel while I filled the sink with detergent and hot water. “Sometimes I forget what great hope we have in Christ.”
“Mmph,” I mumbled, trying not to look at him.
“Makes you want to go out and tell everyone about Jesus.”
“Yes,” I said weakly. Chris was leaning back against the sink thoughtfully drying a mug, close enough to touch.
“Bridget, have you ever been to China?”
“No. Have you?”
“Once, on a short-term mission trip for a month. That was a couple of years ago. It's been my goal ever since to go back. They badly need the gospel there. They need to hear about the hope they have in Jesus.”
I finished washing the mugs and drained the sink. “Are you thinking of staying there long-term?”
“Yes. Possibly for the rest of my life. What about you?”
Spent most of today imagining myself living in China as Chris's wife, living off rice and noodles and wearing those gorgeous silk cheong sams. Snapped out of it when I flicked on the telly to watch the news. Some academic was talking about China's human rights abuses. Kim walked in just then, glanced at the screen and said, “I'm so glad we don't live there. I don't know how I'd handle being imprisoned and tortured for Christ.”
Sat down with my Bible after dinner. Resolved to stop being so obsessed about Chris. Simply ridiculous; if I were as obsessed about God as I seem to be about Chris, I would spend more time thinking about him. Sobering thought.
Read Genesis 26-36. Poor Jacob. Seems like he's better off with no wife rather than two wives.
Why don't guys seem to like me? I thought Christian guys are supposed to be looking for 1 Peter 3-type attractiveness —
“the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.” I know I don't have the figure of a supermodel (I don't really have a figure full stop) but I think I have the gentle and quiet spirit thing. Don't I?
Feel like Rachel: “Give me boyfriend, or I shall die!”
Took us eight hours today to fold and bind all the programs with gauzy gold ribbon and star-shaped press-studs which were annoyingly difficult to press together. Probably wouldn't have taken so long had Kim not insisted that each program have four press-studs equally spaced along the folded edge of the program alternating with the ribbon which had to be tied into an elegant double-bow.
Not that it was tedious listening to Nic and Sal talk about their goings-on at work and Nic's recent trip to Hong Kong for staff training. Asked her if she had a chance to go in to China. Turns out she's mad about the place; gushed about it for a whole hour. Changed my mind about going there after listening to her. A little persecution is good for one's soul, right?
Mark and his groomsmen, who had been trying on suits, turned up in the evening bearing boxes of gourmet pizza and Braveheart. Heard Chris remark that there was nothing attractive about Sophie Marceau.
Very satisfactory evening.
Had a lovely morning sleeping in. Was on welcoming for church. Said hi to Chris when he came in and handed him a bulletin. He got cornered by Julia (pretty, thin, younger than me) before he'd even sat down. They talked for ages and ages. Julia kept laughing and flicking back her long blonde hair. Aargh! How can he stand it?! She's so ... so ...
Pretty, thin and younger than me.
(Stupid Christian men.)
Was determined to stay awake this time for Andrew's sermon but even though I got plenty of rest the night before, I still nodded off. Good thing I wasn't in the front row. At supper, ran into Sarah at the biscuit table.
“What did you think of the sermon tonight?”
At this point Chris accidentally bumped into me and I sloshed tea all over my shirt. He apologised ever so sweetly—went to get a sponge to mop up and even had a new cup of tea ready for me when I got back from the ladies'.
“So what did you think of the sermon?” he said, offering me a dark chocolate Tim Tam.
“I ... uh ... actually, I fell asleep.”
He threw back his head and laughed.
(He has a nice laugh. It's the kind of laugh that makes you want to laugh with him.)
“That's funny ... I fell asleep too!”
Couldn't stop laughing for about ten minutes.
Terrible, really, when you think about it; poor Andrew doing all that hard work for two ungrateful sinners who can't keep their eyes open in church.
(At least I'm not the only one.)
Chris and Greg were over this evening, helping to move more of Mark's stuff into the flat. Most of it's in boxes in the garage but several key bits of furniture had to be juggled around to make room for Mark's entertainment unit (complete with widescreen plasma TV and DVD player) and Mark's extra-comfy two-seater chenille lounges. Ooh, I'm going to have fun when they're away on their honeymoon!
Chris was taking an awfully long time to get the cushions for Mark's lounges and lock up his van. Mark was worried that the takeaway Indian he'd brought for dinner would get too cold so he sent me out to investigate. Found Chris on the first floor landing talking to one of our neighbours, a young man from Taiwan who moved in about a month ago. Approaching them, realised Chris was sharing the gospel, talking animatedly about Jesus. Didn't know whether to interrupt but thought I'd look foolish going back up the stairs again.
Luckily Chris glanced up to see me and waved me over. “Bridget, have you met Danny? He's studying accounting at the Uni.”
“Hi. Nice to meet you,” I said and shook hands with him.
“Nice to meet you,” said Danny. “I see you around—you live upstairs.”
“Yes—I've seen you around too. Your cooking always smells so good.”
Danny laughed. Chris, in the meantime, had been scribbling on the back of a train ticket he'd pulled out of his wallet. He handed it to Danny and said, “I'd love to talk to you more about Jesus. Here's my number. Give me a call when you're free.”
Danny took the card and promised to call. The phone started ringing in his flat just then so we said goodbye and headed back up to mine.
“Sorry I took so long,” said Chris as we were climbing the stairs.
As if any follower of Christ should have to apologise for doing evangelism! God, I can't help it—I'm starting to like him more and more ...
Had a revelation today: Godliness is actually extremely sexy. There's nothing more attractive than a man who fears God and who lives his life to please him in loving others, putting others before himself and bringing glory to the Lord.
Jesus must have been an incredibly sexy man.
(Is that a blasphemous thought?)
Funny enough, tonight's study, which was from 1 Peter 2, was all about being godly:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” Luke talked a bit about how, as God's “priests”, we are his representatives here on earth and, therefore, it is important to live lives pleasing to him so that we don't cause others to stumble. “Isn't it inappropriate that God's people should display malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander,” he said. “We have received mercy from God the most high. We have been made his people—we who were once not his people.”
Felt bad about my uncharitable thoughts about Julia. Spent some time this evening talking to God about it and asking for his forgiveness. Also asked him to help me become more godly. Maybe then men might find me incredibly sexy. Maybe not.
Read Genesis 37-39 this evening. As I was falling asleep, wondered idly if Joseph looked anything like Chris since chapter 39 describes him as being
“handsome in form and appearance”. Dreamed that all the brothers—including myself—were bowing down to Chris. Woke with a start.
Think I'm in very great danger of setting up Chris as an idol in my life. Don't want to worship him instead of worshipping God. But this floaty infatuated feeling makes me happy. Lord, help me to give up this crush.
Kim's hen's night tonight. Went out to a Chinese restaurant for dinner and then came back to our place to watch Charlie's Angels on Mark's DVD player. Most of the girls from church came—including Julia. Was feeling much friendlier towards her until she opened her mouth:
“Oh yes, Chris was telling me all this stuff about the Peloponnesian War ... he said one of the politicians was known as ‘Squidhead’ because that's what he looked like from behind.”
“Saw Chris on Wednesday night at the church. Did you know he volunteers to help put out the chairs for the women's craft group every week?”
“You know how Ben's living with Chris now? He says Chris gets up every morning at 6 to watch the sunrise, read his Bible and pray.”
Wanted to throttle her but then realised I was not entitled to be jealous. It's not like God's jealousy where he has every right to be passionate about the fidelity of his chosen people. Whereas we all belong to God, I do not belong to Chris. He definitely doesn't belong to me.
Mark came to take Kim out for the day—to get away from all the wedding preparations and celebrate their last week of engagement. Is it only one week until the wedding? Aaargh! I still haven't found anywhere to live. In addition, I still have to practise this bridal waltz thing so I don't stuff up and make a total fool of myself in front of two hundred people.
Rang Sarah who very generously offered to come over for lunch and practise with me. Unfortunately she couldn't work out how to do the boy's part so we both pretended to be Sleeping Beauty and swanned around the lounge room with our arms held out in waltz position, humming,
“I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream.”
Spent the afternoon together eating popcorn on Mark's chenille lounges. Talked to her about my struggles with being single and my obsession with Chris. Sarah's a good listener—she sat there without saying anything while I yabbered away, occasionally nodding sympathetically. At the end of my ramble, she said, “I know you may find it hard to hear this—especially coming from me, a wife—but God has gifted you greatly at this point in your life. You're independent, unattached and unburdened by the cares of marriage. You've got the time and leisure to serve God and his people without the distractions of husband and children. Tomorrow, should God choose to send you to Africa to do mission work for three years, you could pack up and go and you wouldn't have to worry about bringing your family too. You're free to obey God in ways that married people cannot. That is a great gift.”
What sounds trite when other people say it always sounds convincing when Sarah says it. She and I prayed together before she left and I felt much better.
Ended up sitting next to Chris in church. Didn't fall asleep during Andrew's sermon because we kept poking each other to keep us from nodding off. Andrew spoke on God's unchangeableness—his “immutability”: “Our God is exactly the same God who spoke to Abraham in the desert,” he said. “He's exactly the same God who gave the law to Moses on Mount Sinai. He's exactly the same God who works by his Spirit to touch our lives. He does not change. He is not like us humans who go through times of suffering and times of joy and are made all the wiser for them. Nothing—no experience, no world event—can ever change God.
“Because God doesn't change, God is always faithful. He is faithful to his purpose in calling all mankind to himself and subjecting the whole earth to his rule. He is faithful to his promises and continually works to bring about their fulfilment. He is faithful to his people, even when we rebel against him and run after other gods. No one could be more faithful than God.
“Are you being faithful to him?”
Went up and thanked Andrew afterwards. Got into an interesting discussion with him about whether God changes his mind. Later on, saw Julia talking to Chris by the bookstall. Surprised myself by not caring.
Went home and read Genesis 40-50. One book down, 65 to go.
Nic and Sal over tonight to help make placecards out of ivory cardboard and gold embossing materials. We all ate dinner together early and then got down to it, sitting at the dining table chatting away while our fingers got all gluey and smudged with gold paint. Seamstress showed up at 8 with Kim's finished wedding dress. Much excitement and squealing when Kim emerged, wearing it. Got all teary-eyed then; she looked so beautiful and radiant! Mark is in for a lovely surprise.
Kim wouldn't let us near her given that we were covered with bits of gold and embossing dust. (“You might get it dirty!”) Dress was quickly removed, wrapped in plastic and secured in Mark's giant wardrobe. “No one is allowed to see it again until the day!” she said. Felt a bit disappointed—really wanted to touch and admire the dress, stroke the fabric, etc. I don't think I'll ever get to wear anything that elegant. Ever.
Of course Chris likes Julia more than me. She's nicer to look at, she's not as heavy to carry over the threshold and she's probably got more childbearing years left in her than I do.
Read Exodus 1-12 this evening. Think some of the ten plagues have come to visit me: the plague of age, the plague of zits, the plague of fat and—ha!—the plague of two left feet. Earlier, tried on my bridesmaid's dress and shoes in privacy of own room. Shouldn't have stood in front of the wall-length mirror. My stomach sticks out too much and my hips are bony in all the wrong places. Did not dare turn around to see what everything looked like from behind.
Practised waltzing in high heels and nearly twisted my ankle. Maybe things will be different when I actually have a partner but I doubt it. Can just imagine the leather in Chris's shoes slowly wearing away from my continual treading on his toes. Seems appropriate since that's how we met.
Feel old, ugly, bloated and profane.
Bible study tonight was very subdued—maybe because of the subject matter (suffering for doing good as Jesus did) but I also think everyone was tired.
Made up my mind to pay less attention to Chris—especially after verse 11 of 1 Peter 2 was read out:
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”
During prayer time, Chris asked if we could pray for the persecuted church in China. Said he'd gotten an email that morning from Voice of the Martyrs asking for urgent prayer because one of the church leaders had been imprisoned under false charges.
Don't think I'd make Chris a suitable wife; not ready to be martyred for the faith.
Was awakened at 6:30 this morning by Kim who burst into my room moaning about gaining half a kilo and breaking a nail. “And I haven't confirmed the honeymoon reservations yet!” she wailed. “Oh Bridget, I can't get married like this! I just know everything's going to fall apart. Maybe Mark and I should just elope.”
Managed to calm her down by pointing out that the weight gain was probably just a result of nerves (“Don't most engaged couples suffer from poor indigestion just prior to their weddings?”) Also booked her in for a French polish with the nail lady at our local salon. (“Nic says she's very good.”) Left for work a little late having scribbled down a “To Ring” list for Kim.
Came home to find Kim had already made dinner (even though it was my night to cook). She was very apologetic for waking me up so early. We had a good chat—just like old times before Mark appeared on the scene. Feel like Kim hasn't been herself in months and months.
“Bridget, I just want to thank you for being there for me. I know it hasn't been easy for you with all this wedding mayhem and my hysterics ... I just want you to know that I really appreciate how calm and reliable you are. I really appreciate everything you've done for Mark and me. It's a great privilege to have you there among all the people I love standing by me when I say my vows on Saturday. I'm going to miss you heaps when you move out!”
Got all teary-eyed again then. I really am going to miss her. I'm happy that she's going to start this new life with Mark, being married and all, but I can't help feeling sad that our time together is almost over. In a couple of days, she'll be gone.
Read Exodus 21-40 before bed—hard long slog! Was looking through my diary and realised why I've been so down and cranky this week: I'm premenstrual. Wish God had left hormones out of creation.
One more day 'til the wedding.
Had day off work today to go with Kim, Nic and Sal to the flower markets early in the morning. Picked up the most gorgeous pink oriental lilies that match the bridesmaid dresses. They smell absolutely divine. Kim got some giant white cabbage roses and camellia leaves for her bouquet. She decided to have a combination of roses and lilies for the church and reception flowers.
We dropped everything off at Luke and Sarah's at 11. Sarah couldn't stop raving about the flowers and said she was really looking forward to arranging the bouquets and everything else. We went straight from there to church for the rehearsal. Mark and the boys were a bit late (Kim gave them a half-hearted scolding, much to Peter's amusement) but everything else went smoothly. Weird feeling—being escorted by Chris up the aisle during the recessional.
We finished just in time for the musicians to arrive for their practice time. Julia was singing and she sounded fantastic, as usual. Kim wanted to stay to make sure that they were perfect but we were all hungry and finally Mark was able to persuade her to leave so we could all go to lunch together.
Spent the afternoon decorating the church and the hall. Kim had bought all this really lovely gauzy material that she wanted to drape everywhere. We made some of it into bows for the pews and the rest we hung over the entrance and back wall. Then Mark took Kim out to dinner to celebrate their last night of being engaged.
Had a nice quiet evening watching When Harry Met Sally on the telly. Started reading Leviticus before bed. After a while, realised I wasn't taking anything in and all I could remember was some stuff about blood and fat. Decided to go to sleep.
Kim was up early, determined to relax herself by having an aromatherapy bubble bath. Nic and Sal showed up at 7:30, their hair freshly washed. Was making them coffee when suddenly heard loud screech coming from bathroom. Kim ran out in her dressing gown yelling, “I've got a zit! I've got a zit!” Took us ages to calm her down. Sal suggested spraying Windex on it like in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Kim was taken with the idea but then we discovered we don't actually keep Windex in the house.
“Maybe Jif would do instead?”
“What about Mr. Sheen?”
“This is ridiculous,” said Nic. “It's only a tiny zit. A little makeup will cover it up just fine.”
Left situation in her capable hands while I went to have my shower. Stood there enjoying the hot water and steam. Getting married is far too stressful. Thought about what Sarah said about being free from care.
As soon as I was dressed, we drove to the hairdresser's who got the booking right this time and did us all in an hour and a half. The lady who did me must have used up half a can of hairspray to get all the curls to sit properly. Final result didn't look too bad.
Makeup was next, then nails. Didn't recognise myself in the mirror. Head started aching from too many bobby pins. Was sure I was going to set off every metal detector in the area. We got back home at 12 and had some lunch. Sarah dropped round the bouquets and complimented us on how we looked. She reassured Kim that the other floral arrangements had been delivered to the church and reception venue on time.
Mark called just then and Kim started freaking out. (“What is it? What's happened? Has something gone wrong?”) Turned out he just wanted to say, “I love you,” and to celebrate their last couple of hours of being engaged. Had to cut their conversation short by reminding them the photographer was arriving soon. We got into our dresses and shoes and then Kim presented us all with necklaces of pearly white beads connected together with silver thread. She also gave us matching earrings and bracelets.
“They're to say thank you for all your love and support and hard work,” said Kim. She looked like she was going to burst into tears but we reminded her that she mustn't smudge her mascara. Photographer arrived then, closely followed by Kim's parents. Much oohing and aahing and photo-taking ensued.
Limo arrived to take us all to the church. Kim was ecstatic that we were actually on time—couldn't stop raving about it for about ten minutes. And then we all got out, had photos with the car, had photos outside the church and in the foyer and finally ...
It was me just walking down the aisle with a smile plastered over my face. Didn't realise Mark and Kim invited so many people ... so many pairs of eyes staring at me. Looked ahead and there was Mark and the other guys in their suits, all lined up at the front. Chris looked exceptionally fine. Made me feel weak at the knees. Had this sudden fantasy of walking down the aisle to marry him. Told brain to snap out of it and concentrate on not falling over or stepping on dress with high heels.
The rest of the service was something of a blur—the vows, the kiss, Peter's talk, the signing of the register. It all felt sort of unreal until Peter announced to the congregation, “Would you please be upstanding. I now present to you Mr and Mrs Mark and Kim Stafford!” and the recessional music started playing. Everyone clapped and cheered and threw streamers. Chris was soon at my side, taking my elbow and steering me down the aisle after everyone else where we emerged into blinking sunlight and wedding bubbles dancing in the air.
During afternoon tea, there was a constant stream of people coming up to admire my dress/hair/jewellery/bouquet and to gush about how beautiful and radiant Kim looked—what a lovely couple they were—what a gorgeous wedding. Before I knew it, Nic was waving me over into the wedding cars and we were off to take photos near the beach.
It was FREEZING cold!!! I was shivering so much that Chris took pity on me and gave me his jacket when we weren't actually in front of the camera. The storm clouds rolled in and the first drops began to fall just as we were finishing up so we piled back in the cars and headed off to the reception.
We were introduced inside couple by couple. Luke was MC. “Chris Patterson and Bridget James!” he called out as we entered. Very strange hearing our names together. Food was absolutely delicious. Kim's dad did a speech, Mark's dad did a speech, Greg did a speech and then Mark did a speech which, had it not been Mark, would have sounded incredibly soppy (“I just want to thank everyone for coming and celebrating our first night together as a married couple.”) Kim tossed her bouquet (which Julia caught, not me). They cut the cake and then it was time for the—*gulp!*—bridal waltz.
“I'm not sure I can do this,” I whispered to Chris as we got up.
“Don't worry,” he whispered back. “No one's going to be looking at us anyway.” He took my hand and we kind of shuffled around the dance floor in a semi-graceful manner. I managed to avoid his toes. Was very relieved when everyone else got up to dance and we could be normal. Noticed Julia prying Chris away so she could dance with him.
Before I knew it, Mark and Kim were about to leave. Luke asked everyone to form a circle and the bride and groom went around it shaking hands and saying goodbye to everyone. Got a very enthusiastic hug and kiss from Kim who whispered in my ear, “I'm so happy!” When Mark came to me, he gave me a quick embrace and said, “Thanks so much, Bridget, for everything you've done. Especially for looking after my wife so well.” Was quite surprised—especially since I don't think I did a very good job of “looking after” Kim.
Everyone went outside to wave off the newlyweds, then trooped back inside to gather up their stuff and say goodbye before leaving. I just had to sit down and take off my shoes. My feet were killing me, my hair was killing me and I could feel a full-blown PMS headache coming on. I put my head in my hands and closed my eyes.
“Bridget, are you all right?”
Chris had sat down in the chair next to me. I opened my eyes, raised my head and tried to smile. (Lord, why did you have to make this particular individual so incredibly attractive?)
“Just a bit tired. It's been such a full-on day. No chance to stop and just ... sit for a while.”
“I know what you mean,” he said, pouring water into an empty glass and handing it to me. “This wedding's been such a production. Makes me think twice about getting married.”
“Do you ... er ... want to? Eventually?” I asked tentatively. Chris poured himself a glass and sat there looking at it for a couple of seconds.
“I don't know,” he said. “Part of me would like to find someone to be my lifelong companion and mother of my children. But then there's China to consider and I'd really think long and hard before taking a wife there and raising a family. Part of me is just happy the way I am. For now, being single seems like the best thing for me. I'm not ready yet for the responsibilities of marriage. I'm not ready yet to share my life with someone else. The very thought of having kids freaks me out ... I'm definitely not ready to be a father.”
He hesitated, then looked up at me so I was, once again, struck by how green his eyes were. “Bridget, I just want to say I really enjoy talking to you. I really enjoy being friends. Since I've started coming to your church, at least half a dozen girls have asked me out. It's put me into some very uncomfortable situations. With you, there's none of this teenage infatuation ... I can just be myself.”
“Mmph,” I mumbled, sinking a bit lower in my chair.
“I think it's important to have friendships with people of the opposite sex, don't you?”
“Mmph,” I said again.
“God has given us only so much time,” he continued as if he hadn't heard. “I want to spend what time he's given me in serving him—encouraging his people, advancing his kingdom, bringing glory to his name. The more I walk with him, the more I realise how awesome he is. He has displayed such great faithfulness to me—to us, Bridget!—faithfulness greater than that of any husband or wife. I love him and I seek to love him more.”
“Bridget!” Sarah was calling. “We've packed all the presents in the car. You ready to go?”
“I'm babysitting the gifts 'til they get back,” I said as I put on my shoes again and stood up. “Sometime between then and now I have to find a new place to live.”
“Are you looking for a flatmate?” Chris asked.
“Yes I am, actually. Do you know of anyone?”
“My sister, Elizabeth. She wants to move to this area because it's closer to work. Are you free any time this week? I'll bring her over to meet you. I have to visit your neighbour, Danny, anyway—he called last night.”
“That would be wonderful,” I said, hardly believing what I was hearing. God really does provide. His faithfulness to me was dazzling.
“I'll talk to you about it tomorrow night at church. See you then.”
Got dropped off at home by Luke and Sarah who made a point of coming in with me so I wouldn't feel depressed about returning to an empty flat. They stayed long enough for Sarah to pick all the bobby pins out of my hair and get me settled. It was nice being fussed over.
Sat down and talked to God for a bit before going to bed. I never do it enough but when I do, I never regret it. Thanked him for being so wonderful and for looking after me so well. Asked him to help me to live a life pleasing to him. As I was getting up, had a fleeting notion that God was smiling down on me.
Thought about Chris's words as I got into bed. Particularly the bit about being friends and how important it is to have friendships with people with the opposite sex with whom one can be oneself. I thought about what he said about not being ready for marriage. I'd never really considered that before. Perhaps I'm not really ready either. Perhaps I'm not really ready to be responsible for someone else as well as myself. Perhaps I'm not really ready to share my life with someone else.
I want to be happy just the way I am. I want to be like Paul—content in all situations, “in times of plenty and in times of struggle”. “Just being friends” with Chris sounds like a good start. Perhaps?
Julia will be most disappointed.
Karen has never been able to keep a diary and she admires people like Bridget who can.