The other day I was talking to my friend on the phone, catching up on the latest news about her job, her new home, and her new husband. We had a great conversation reminiscing about her wedding and then I found myself saying something very odd. I told her, "My scar is healing up quite nicely." Suddenly a thought occurred to me. "I know this may sound strange, but to be honest, I'm kind of proud of my scars."
She was puzzled and gave a little laugh. "Proud of them?"
I had to explain. "Yes, because it reminds me of an amazing day. Your wedding day. A long awaited answer to prayer. It was a day that was so beautiful and happy. Plus, it reminds me of how loving and merciful our Lord is. The incident could have been a lot worse..."
The incident I'm talking about is something that occurred on one of the best days I have seen in 2020. It has certainly been a roller coaster of a year. Too many things have happened that I would never care to see again in any other year. But seeing my best friend marry her soulmate this past August brought great joy to my heart.
The day dawned beautiful and sunny. Rae was beaming with happiness when I walked into the room and greeted her as she was getting her hair curled and pinned up. Her white dress hung from the light fixture nearby, a picture of purity and innocence, a long awaited dream that was finally coming true. We had only been 13 and 15 years old when we had first become pen pals. A man from my church had somehow gotten her address while visiting her church and asked me if I would care to write this young girl who needed a friend. I needed a friend too. We had both prayed for somebody to come into our lives, never imagining that a friendship of such long distance would work out so well. But God knew. Never underestimate what He can do. And how He is going to do it. His ways are never our ways.
In 1998 I married Joe, and Rae was one of my bridesmaids. Though she was happy for me, it hurt her to see me get married when she had no prospects in sight. It did hurt our friendship a bit as we both had very different lives after that. As my children came one after the other, she still had nobody on the horizon. For twenty-two years she watched me live a happily married life, even attending my daughter Alaina's birth in 2002. It was an amazing time for her, but still that ache in her heart put a little wall up between us. It was hard for her to relate to circumstances I told her about. It just made her want to get married all the more.
Fast forward to the end of 2019. She sent me a text about a gentleman she had met. She was not sure about what the future held for her and him, but there was something different about this guy. I could tell by her texts. I read between the lines. I had been praying for years with her, believing the Lord would bring someone special to her. Each year I would say, "Lord, let this be the year. Please let Rae find her soulmate!" Hope sprang up in my heart when her texts became more in depth about him. I heard the change in her voice, and in my heart I knew it was for real this time. My prayer changed to the plea, "Lord, please don't let this man break her heart! She has been through so much heartbreak already. Please don't let him hurt my friend!"
By the end of February, it was official. They were engaged. And very happy. An August wedding was set and wedding preparations began to unfold. She asked me to be her matron of honor. It brought tears to my eyes to think that it would be my turn to be by the side of my best friend as she said her long awaited wedding vows. As I looked into the specifics of what I was to do as her matron of honor, I found it was my job to put together a bridal shower. How was I going to do that being 14 hours away from her? I decided to ask Joe. Not my Joe, but her Joe. Isn't it funny that God decided to give her a Joe too? We have so much in common, being we both play the flute, love to write, love to read, etc, and now we have husbands with the same name. And the same sense of humor. Imagine that!
So, Joe (and Rae's mom and dad, as well as the two other bridesmaids) helped me put together a wonderful surprise shower for her and we pulled it off, completely giving her the surprise of her life. It had been years since we had seen each other, so to see her three good friends, two from the East Coast, standing there in front of her was a shock. The look on her face was priceless! It was a day we will never forget.
Fast forward to August 29th. The day dawned beautiful and sunny. Rae was beaming with happiness when I walked into the room and greeted her....oh wait, I said that already. It was worth repeating. My best friend was getting married! Oh, what an answer to prayer! The entire day was filled with answers to prayer. It was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever attended. I won't go into all the details of the entire day but the joy and happiness of the bride and groom was a sight to behold. It all ended too fast and soon the two were getting ready to walk through a sparkler line where they would climb into a horse drawn carriage and leave for their honeymoon. I had my phone camera on and was handed a couple of sparklers. I held the phone up to capture their walk through and then it happened. Somehow the sparkler I was holding broke. Now, I was wearing quite a high necked dress so it really puzzles me as how this all happened, but the burning sparkler piece fell onto my neck, and down the front of my dress. Meanwhile, I still had the camera on, though all you can see is the grass. You hear a gasp, then, "Joe! It fell down my dress!"
I glanced down and saw the chiffon at the bottom of my dress beginning to light up. All I could think of was the fact that I was going to be engulfed in flames in a matter of seconds. Joe thought so too. He quickly snuffed out the flame on the skirt part, then without even hesitating, reached into my dress and pulled out the burning piece of sparkler. You may smirk, but he did it with such rapid speed and unconcern for burning himself that he is my hero. He told me later that he would know when he found it by feeling the burn. I wish I could say I enjoyed watching the newlyweds leave in their carriage but the pain set in after that. I took off across the field, up over the hill, and hurried to the pavilion where they were packing up all the food from the reception.
"I need ice! Do you have any available?" I asked as soon as I got there. I had left Joe in the dust as I had raced for relief. Upon hearing what had happened, the ladies quickly gave me a bag of ice that instantly took away my pain, as long as I kept the cold pack on the burns. Then I remembered that I had tea tree oil in my car. The roller kind that would be easy to rubbed over the burns. I quickly asked Joe to unlock the car. I spread the oil all over my burns and then put the ice back on. I sent a text to the other bridesmaids telling them what happened, not realizing that Rae was part of the group chat too. I did not mean to worry her like that. I did not want to spoil her wedding day with the news that I had been hurt. But she quickly responded, telling me that she and Joe were praying for me. As did the other bridesmaids. And within two hours of the incident the pain was totally gone. It did not look pretty, but that would heal in time.
It has been a month and a half since that day now, and my scars have faded. The biggest one is just a little white spot under my collar bone. But that scar serves to remind me of many things: it reminds me of answered prayer - our timing is not God's timing. His ways are perfect. He will provide above and beyond what we can even think or imagine. It also reminds me of that wonderful day when my sweet friend Rae said her vows and became one with her long awaited husband. It reminds me that God works out every detail, right down to even the smallest one, like having me put the tea tree oil in my purse so I would have it for that very moment. And it reminds me that the incident could have been so much worse - I could have gone up in flames and burnt more of my body then just a little part of my neck and chest but He was so merciful to me. And for that very reason I can say that I'm proud of the scars He gave me as a reminder that God is always good. And God is always right. But last of all, I am thankful and proud for the scars He took for me on the cross so that I could become a daughter of the king. He is an amazing Father, isn't He?