Authors: Melody Carlson
“But you were wrong about me,” I reminded her.
“But I'm right about Jenny.”
“Come on, Liz. I thought you'd gotten more open-minded than this.”
“Maybe I'm just jealous,” she said.
I laughed. “Yeah. If anyone should be jealous, it should be me. You left me for Leon long before I even knew Jenny was transferring here.”
“Oh, you probably would've dumped me for her anyway.” But I could tell by the spark in her eye that she was just doing her typical chain-jerking now.
But at least we agreed to have a weekly coffee date-every Tuesday at seven-just to keep up.
And so I got to tell her my big news last night. I couldn't wait to hear her reaction. Especially since she's always telling me that what I need is a good boyfriend. Of course, I know by this she means sex. But that's just her.
“No way!” Liz shrieked so loudly that everyone in Starbucks jumped.
“Shh.” I waved my ring finger in front of her face to quiet her down.
“Oh-mi-gosh!” She stared at the ring, then looked up at me with disbelief. “This is the real deal.”
“The real deal.” I grinned.
“And you know without a doubt that Josh is really ‘the one.’”
“I think I've always known.”
She rolled her eyes. “What a hopeless romantic.”
I shrugged. “Hey, someone has to be.”
“Well, don't even ask me how it's going with Leon.”
“How's it going?”
“I said don't ask.”
“But I thought you meant-”
I nodded. “Okay then.” And so, trying to avoid the Leon subject, I began to tell her about the engagement picnic and how it rained and how I ruined my new shoes, but the whole time I could tell that something was troubling her. Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer.
“Liz,” I began carefully. “You don't have to talk about it, but I know you too well. I know that something's really wrong.”
She sighed and looked away. “Oh, I don't know…”
“Is it Leon?” I felt myself getting mad now. “Is he cheating on you, Liz?”
She frowned, but knowing Liz's history with picking out guys who are total jerks, I knew this was a very real possibility. But she just mutely shook her head.
“Oh.” Now I was at a loss. “But you seem so sad.”
She sighed again. “Look, Leon is really great, Caitlin. He's good to me. He's thoughtful. He's probably the best boyfriend I've ever had.”
Now it's hard to respond to something like that. On one hand, I'm relieved that Leon's not another stupid jerk. But on the other hand, I feel as though she's settling for less than God's best for her. But then again it's not like she's even invited God into her life, so she obviously has no idea what He has to offer.
Really, it can be so frustrating trying to encourage someone in this position. It's like you're telling them about this really great restaurant while you know they have no money and will refuse to accept charity. Just the same, I love Liz too much to say nothing. I mean, I pray for her all the time. And I honestly believe God has a fantastic plan for her life. If she'd only just get it.
“So, if Leon's so great…what's the problem, Liz?”
“I think it's me.”
“Oh.” I watched her as she swirled the last of her coffee around in the bottom of the cup. “Are you cheating on him?” I finally asked what seemed like the obvious next question.
I felt somewhat relieved that this made her laugh. “No, I'm not cheating. Thanks for the vote of confidence.”
“Well, it's not as if you've never done anything like that before.”
“Yeah, you're right. But believe it or not, I've grown up a little since then.”
I nodded. “I know. So really, what's wrong?”
“I don't know exactly. It's just that there's something missing. Like maybe Leon's not really the one. Not the way Josh seems to be the one for you anyway.” Now she stared at me, giving me that same narrow-eyed skeptical look that I've grown so familiar with over the past three years. “I'll bet you guys still haven't even slept together.”
I laughed. “That's a bet you could make some money on. Of course, you might be hard-pressed to get anyone to bet against you.”
“And I suppose you don't plan on sleeping together until the big white night?”
She shook her head as she let out a cuss word, then quickly apologized. Not that I was shocked. I mean, since I've known her, Liz has always had a mouth on her.
“It's just that I believe God has led me to live like this, Liz,” I explained for like the hundredth time. “And I'm glad. Really, waiting works for me.”
“Yeah, yeah. I know the spiel.”
“Okay, Liz, if you don't think Leon is the one, and it's not working…then why are you still with him?”
“Convenience, I guess.”
I nodded as I considered her response. “I suppose it might seem convenient.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Oh, you know. It
like the easy thing to do, like it doesn't matter one way or the other, like it all works out in the end. But you know as well as anyone that you always have to pay in the end. I mean, either you get hurt, or the guy gets hurt, or you both get hurt. It's always the same, Liz.”
“And what if?” I suddenly thought of something.
“What if what?”
“Well, what if there really is a right guy for you? I mean, what if some amazing guy is made just for you, but you are so busy being in a
relationship that you totally miss it? What if?”
She frowned. “Yeah, you bet. Some Mr. Right is out there looking for me even as we speak.”
“You don't know, Liz; he could be. He might be here right now.” Then I did this scope-it-out glance, like I was trying to see if any cool-looking guy might be sitting right there in Starbucks, and Liz just laughed.
“And you think I'll miss Mr. Right because I'm stuck with Leon.”
“Okay, let's just suppose your theory holds water, which I seriously doubt. How am I supposed to recognize this perfect dude when I see him anyway? Will he have a sign on his forehead or maybe a T-shirt that says Mr. Right across his massive chest?”
“I think you'll only get the answer to that question once you're hooked up with God, Liz.”
She nodded with this knowing look. “Yeah, I figured we'd end up here before long.”
I shrugged. “Hey, you know who I am.”
But instead of getting irritated, she jus smiled. “Yeah, and it's kind of nice that you never let me down either.”
So now I realize that I have a couple of friends whose lives aren't going so well. And it reminds me that I need to keep thinking about other people and not get so focused on my own life. I mean, it's cool that Josh and I are getting married. But right now I'm still in college. I still have friends who need me to be here for them. And I need to lean on God for my strength more than ever. I guess it was sort of a wake-up call. In other words, and as usual, it's not all about me.
DEAR GOD, THANKS FOR REMINDING ME THAT MY LIFE ISN'T JUST ABOUT BEING ENGAGED TO A WONDERFUL GUY. HELP ME TO KEEP MY EYES ON YOU AND TO BE THERE FOR MY FRIENDS. SHOW ME HOW I CAN HELP BOTH LIZ AND JENNY. AMEN.
Josh drove over
to the university to pick me up from school yesterday. I can't believe how glad I was to see him. It seemed like it had been more than a mere five days since we'd been together. After I hugged him for about five minutes (or maybe just two), I told him the official date for our wedding.
“How does the first of June sound?”
“My graduation is May 27,” I told him. “And I know that's packing it in pretty close, less than a week to get home and do all the last-minute wedding things, but wouldn't it be great to be down at the mission by mid-June?”
“Does that mean we get a two-week honeymoon?”
I laughed. “Do you think we can afford two weeks?”
“Maybe if we find some fleabag motel down in Mexico or sleep on the beach.”
“Wow, that sounds so romantic.”
He grinned. “Hey, if it was with you, it would be very romantic.”
Well, I'm sure that made me blush, so I quickly changed the subject. “You can't pick me up and take me home every weekend,” I said as we entered the free-way.
“Believe me, I'm not complaining. Leaving in the afternoon like this is great for me, since I only have morning classes on Fridays. But you have a job, and it eats up a lot of your time to drive back and forth like this, Josh. Really, I don't expect it.”
“I know. And you're right. I probably won't be able to do it every weekend. But I just had to see you again. For one thing, I kept worrying that none of this was real.”
“But we e-mailed.”
“I know. But I needed to see you with my own eyes, Caitlin.”
I smiled. “Like I said, I'm not complaining.”
And believe me, I am totally glad to be home again. Everyone here is so excited about the engagement and the upcoming wedding. It's a total departure from what's going on back at school. To be honest, I sort of feel like a princess when I come home. My mom sat me down with some ideas for the wedding. Okay, some were a little corny, like craft projects she might be better off doing with her second graders at school.
Then Josh's mom invited my mom and me for lunch
today, and afterward we went to a new bridal shop to look at wedding gowns. And even though I don't agree with Joy's ideas that “money shouldn't matter” when it comes to getting the perfect dress, I must admit that she has pretty good taste.
“You are a classic, Caitlin,” she told me as she held up this beautiful white satin gown. “You'll look best in something smooth and sophisticated like this.”
“I'm not sure about strapless.” I held up the gown in front of the mirror. Although as I admired how the gown flowed gracefully to the floor, I was sure I could be talked into this style.
“I'm with you, Caitlin,” my mom said quickly. “I think something with a little more shoulder would be nice.” She had already removed another dress from the rack. And okay, I have to admit it looked a little too fluffy and prissy to me. But I smiled as I held it up in the mirror.
“Oh, that's be so sweet on you,” said my mom.
“No, no,” said Joy. “It's much too ingénue for her.”
“Ingénue?” my mom queried.
“Too young. Too sweet. Too little girlish.”
My mom just looked at her.
“But don't worry,” said Joy. “This is only one store and a small one at that.” I kind of smiled at the sales girl who'd been trying to help us.
“And I'm sure Caitlin has lots of time,” said my mom.
“If we go into the city, we'll have lots more gowns to choose from,” said Joy. “I only thought that Caitlin should start looking at styles so she'll have some idea of what
she's looking for.” Joy pulled out another dress and held it up, but it looked more like an evening gown to me.
“Do you want to try anything on, honey?” My mom's voice strongly hinted that she was ready to leave.
“Not really.” I glanced at my watch. “Lunch was nice and this was fun, but I told Aunt Steph that I'd stop by and visit her this afternoon.”
My mom smiled as she hung the princess dress back up.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” said Joy. “I have some wedding things for you, Caitlin. They're in my car.”
The “wedding things” turned out to be a slick shopping bag full of new brides' magazines and several thick, glossy “wedding planning” books that appear to cover everything from French pedicures to appropriate ice sculptures. Not only that, but Joy went to the trouble to stick little Post-it notes on various pages that she felt were good ideas. Of course, I didn't actually look through these things until I was in the privacy of my own room. No need rubbing my mom's nose in it.
So, I can see this isn't going to be easy. And I don't really want to complain to Josh about his mother's input. I realize she's just trying to help. And to be fair, she does have some good ideas, and her taste (well, other than those big-ticket items) is probably more like mine than my mother's. Naturally, I can't admit this to Mom.
That's what made me decide to ask Aunt Steph's opinion while I'm at her house. After I tell her my little story of the wedding gown skirmish, and after she recovers from laughing, she reminds me that it's my wedding.
“Well, yours and Josh's.” She cradles little Clayton on her lap. He's about three years old now and appears to be nearly asleep. “He missed his nap today,” she whispers as she gracefully moves him to the couch. Then she stands up and sighs. “Of course, a wedding is about families too.”
“I know. And really, I want everyone to be happy and have a good time. But I think it's going to be tricky.”
She sits back down across from me. “I guess you and Josh will have to settle on your priorities.”
“Like what? You've helped with weddings at the church, Steph. What do you tell people to do?”
“Well, the weddings at our church are usually fairly simple affairs,” she says. “Not everyone wants to get married in an old retail building.”
I nod. “That's another thing. Josh's parents really want us to get married in their church.”
“Is that Saint Matthew's?”
“It is a gorgeous old church, Caitlin. I just love the old stone and stained glass and all that wood in the sanctuary.”
“I know, I know. But I want to be married at Faith Fellowship, and I want Pastor Tony to officiate.”
“I suppose I'm a little biased, but I do think you should have Tony too.” She smiles as she glances at the wedding picture of Tony and her on the mantel. “After all, he is family.”
“Right. And he's also Josh's boss.”
“That's true. But Saint Matthew's
a beautiful church, Caitlin.” She pauses to consider something. “Maybe you guys could compromise a little. Maybe Saint Matthew's would allow Tony to do the ceremony there.”
“Do you think?”
She shrugs. “He's done weddings in other churches. I could ask him about it.”