I had waited two years for him to notice me, and three years after that for him to ask me out. Then began three more years of long distance waiting for him to ask me the question, and now I only had to wait 1 year and 2 months longer to be called his wife.
I had prayed that the Lord would help me keep my focus away from boys and on Him. Then I prayed that if I couldn't have Brent, that God would grant me a man like him. And then I prayed that God would give me the patience and trust to endure 4 years of distance from the boy I now loved. And now I prayed that God would empower us both in our final stretch; I prayed He would give us the strength to continue to wait for our wedding night.
Throughout my final year of college I was a bag of mixed emotions. I planned a wedding from a distance, I student taught, I relished time with friends I would be leaving soon, I watched my dad go through hell with his job, and I fought, and prayed, and struggled with where we would be moving after the wedding.
Graduation came and went in a flurry of square caps and fluttering gowns, and then I rushed off to Wisconsin to stand up in Renae's wedding. I sobbed through her entire ceremony at I thought of leaving her and at the rush of emotions that came as I thought of my own wedding in just three short weeks.
The waiting was over. I was going to be Brent's bride.
* * *
I watch out the window as the clouds disintegrate and the city lights come into view. Louisville, Kentucky. Lord, I'm still so unsure about this place, please give me peace in this decision while I'm here interviewing. And Lord, may my time with Brent be refreshing and peace-giving.
A short two days later, after rushing around, having an anxiety attack while driving through city traffic, interviewing and securing a job at a middle school, and checking out what Brent had been up to at his new internship, we hold one another close at the airport gate.
"You know this is the last time we ever have to say goodbye like this?" I say as I secure my grip around his waist even tighter.
His sigh and kiss on my forehead told me he knew.
* * *
"Kels? Kelsey. Wake up, sweetie. It's your wedding day!" I groggily throw the covers back and look up at my mom. I had slept like a rock as nerves and anxiety were no where to be found in my excitement for today. I had never been so sure about something. "Go jump through the shower. I have breakfast waiting for you." As mom leaves my room, I lay my hand on the empty pillow next to mine and smile-- tonight it would not be empty. Today I would become Brent's wife.
The rest of the morning and afternoon is a madhouse of hairspray, dresses, makeup, pictures, family, cakes falling over, humidity and wind. However, nothing could mess up this day. As we snap photos I look around at what my grandparents' backyard has become. The space where I used to decorate their landscape with peony petals is now decorated with folding chairs; the lawn where my grandpa used to let me ride on his lap while mowing is now scattered with tables for the reception. My childhood dream is becoming a reality. Our photographer is giving us directions and Brent comes up behind me and scoops me into his arms. We already shared a special "first moment" with one another, and now we are just enjoying one another's company before the ceremony commences. Earlier he had given me a journal he had kept since our engagement. The last entry was just for me, and had been written this morning: I want to be so good to you, always. I want to be a good husband. I want to always care for you and love and protect you. Today, at the end of the day, I want you to fall asleep in my arms knowing that you are loved, cherished, and safe.
And then, in what seems like a matter of moments, I am standing beside my dad. Though he keeps asking me if he has time to go to the bathroom before we walk down the aisle, I am so thankful that this is the man that raised me. I know he is proud to give me away, but I also know that, though unspoken, we are both a little emotional about that moment. And finally the change in music is our cue, my aunt waves us around the corner and there, in an orange setting sun, Brent waits for me at the end of the aisle. He is waiting for me, as he has waited for me for many years. We trusted the Lord would bring us to this day if we remained faithful, and now I walk down the aisle that will forever bring our waiting to an end.
I look at Brent and see in his face the perseverance that has ensured this day would come. I look at Brent and I see in his face how he beholds me in a way no man ever has or ever will. I looked at Brent and I see in his face the unknown journey we are about to embark. I look at Brent and I see in his face the love of our Heavenly Father, and I know that no matter where that unknown journey takes us-- for richer or for poorer, in sickness or in health-- that Brent will love, cherish, and protect me until death.
As my white dress trails down the aisle, I look at Brent and I see home.