Last week, I got to be part of the wedding of one of my best friends in Oregon (I have a few best friends, so don’t get any wrong ideas, other best friends).
Emily and I have known each other for about 10 years, so helping with wedding prep and MC-ing her reception were really fun and special and meaningful. After her wedding to Sam, I had an especially sappy moment and wrote her a letter. Here it is, except for a bit that was meant just for me and her.
Nov 22, 2015
Today is the day after your wedding, so I thought I’d finally write your card. (I like that we’re the kind of friends who give gifts and cards randomly, instead of on special days.)
This past week, I’ve been getting kind of nostalgic about our friendship, remembering the dinners we’ve had, the dreams we’ve shared, the weddings we’ve planned. Most of all, I remember getting together every week for a couple of years for Bible study, just the two of us. Bible study, or – as we often called it – “talking about Jesus and boys.”
At the time, you and I were in our mid-to-late 20’s, and we both loved weddings. I remember hours and hours spent planning our weddings, other people’s weddings, and our future relationships. Yes, we planned our relationships – and even sketched out ideas of our ideal men.
But we didn’t just talk about it, we prayed about it. We’d curl up on the settee or the couch, or we’d hold hands across the table at the restaurant, or we’d sprawl out on your parents’ living room floor – and we’d pray and pray and pray. We’d beg God to protect our men and our hearts, and we’d call out for the strength to trust His timing.
The prayer we’d pray over and over throughout the years was, “God, help our men to not be out there doing something stupid with their lives right now.” We showered our future husbands with prayers like, “God, let him redeem the time of his singleness right now,” “Surround him with people who will give him wise counsel while he’s waiting for me,” “Give him the desire to pursue godliness and responsibility instead of fleeting worldly pleasures,” and “be forming him now to be the man I’m supposed to meet when I finally do.”
We prayed most of those things for ourselves, too.
I moved away five years ago, and though we’ve stayed in touch, we’ve found other bosom friends and Bible study buddies. We’ve met men we thought might be “the one,” only to realize they were “the wrong one.” We’re both in our 30’s now, and we’ve grown up a bit – realizing that when we let God plan our relationships and sketch out our ideal men, He doesn’t really pay attention to our plans. That used to frustrate us, but now it comforts us.
A couple of months ago, I got a text from you, “Two weeks ago, I met this guy, and he rocked my world.”
A couple of weeks after that, I got a picture of an engagement ring.
One day after that, I talked with you as you told me that, 24 hours after getting engaged, you already had the ring, dress, venue, colors, time of day, pastor, pre-marital counseling appointments, new apartment for after the wedding, and photographer all lined up. Thirty-one years of wedding planning, now set super efficiently into motion. You told me about Sam, and I heard how wonderfully happy you were – not just about the wedding, but about this man who had rocked your world.
I finally got to meet Sam this past Wednesday, and I got to see what the big deal was about him. On Friday at your rehearsal, you cried as you practiced walking down the aisle with your dad, and I grinned, knowing the feeling that was culminating inside your heart. That same feeling (though probably a smaller form of it) hit me later in the rehearsal, and I had to blink back tears as God reminded me all at once of the hours and hours and years spent on our faces before Him, begging for this experience, pleading not just for weddings but for lives spent with godly men who would cherish us and love Him more than they would love us.
At the rehearsal dinner, I spent more time with Sam, and I realized (a few weeks later than you) that this man was the answer to our prayers. God had heard our prayers, Emily.
Despite our whining and impatience and occasional doubts about the goodness of God’s plan, He’d heard our prayers and taken them seriously. Of course I know your story better than I know Sam’s, but I look back on the last decade of your life and our friendship and see all the ways He was perfectly protecting your heart and preparing you for this man in His timing.
On your wedding day, I blinked back tears many, many times as the thought re-hit me: this is what we had been praying for. God heard us. God heard our prayers. God was listening, and He answered beyond our wildest expectations.
You were quite simply one of the most beautiful, gracious brides I’ve ever, ever met (and you know I’ve met dozens upon dozens, if not hundreds). Throughout the bride brain and wedding drama and those moments when the bridezilla threatened to break through, you and God found the strength to say nice things to the people around you and make people feel appreciated for helping and being there for you and Sam.
Honestly, being a small part of your wedding week and wedding day was one of the greatest pleasures and honors of my 32-year-old life. Almost as big as the honor of praying with you every week for two years.
As I got in my car at 10:45 on your wedding night and started driving back, I finally let all those blinked-back tears flow. I was so thankful to God that He’d heard the cries of our hearts, the groaning without words, the longings of the years and years and decades of singleness.
I was happy that your singleness is over, I was glad your wedding had gone well, I was crazy exhausted because you’d kept me past my bedtime four nights in a row, but mostly I was utterly overwhelmed at the very tangible proof that God answers prayers.
As I drove and tears streamed down my face, all I could say was, “God, You’re so good. You’re so good.”
I love you, Emily Payne Kotwicki. I want you to love your new life as a married woman, even on the bad days. And I’ll continue to pray for you and your man, knowing that our God hears me.
Charity J Edwards
At a Friendsgiving celebration earlier this week, someone asked me what I was most thankful for about God. I said, I was most thankful that He hears our prayers.
God didn’t just hear our prayers all those years ago and then be like, “Oh yeah, I guess maybe I should get around to answering them now.” He heard our prayers for Sam and for Emily at that time and formed them at that time and in all the years since to be the people they were meant to be when they met each other on August 28, 2015.
Because God loved us so much, He sent His Son Jesus to be the mediator between us and Him. Because of Jesus, God hears my prayers. And for that, I’m beyond grateful.