For Tabitha, a year before her wedding day

Dear Tabitha,

I think you know just how excited I am that in one year’s time, I will get to be part of a very special day (so so so excited). You are incredibly precious to me and I am honoured to be able to share in your joy – both the daily joy of being your friend, and the joy of what will be happening this time next year. I wanted to share with you some of my prayers for this time as you prepare to get married, because this time of waiting and the process of preparation is just as important as the day of celebration that is to come.

Tabitha, I pray that you would be getting ready for the ride ahead. That you would be ready for the imperfection and mess that is love. Be ready for the photographer to be a no-show, for the vicar marrying you and James to have a funny voice, for your friends (me very much included) to say all the wrong things, for the food to be mediocre and for your dress to tear. Be ready for every carefully made wedding plan to fall apart at the seams. And also be ready for the day that comes much later, when you wake up five months after getting married, when your hopes that James will get more handsome with age are already fading (teasing, sorry James!). Be ready for all the disagreements, and the disappointments, and the sorrow and frustration that comes when two different people become one, as the brokenness of each of you suddenly becomes that much starker.

You have chosen a great guy to marry (well done you!), and he matches up to the high standards he needs to meet to be worthy of you. But now, I pray that you would be getting ready to have low expectations. Be ready to find out that love is more farming than fairy-tale (hopefully it’ll suit the BioNatSci and the Geographer in each of you). Be ready to get up early everyday to till the soil and tend to the land, whatever the weather. Be ready to get down on your knees and pray for the rain. Be ready for the work of cultivating love, and always be prepared to be the one who loves the most.

As Christ died for the both of you, lay down your lives for each other. Do this in the broad sense of how you set-up your life together, sharing hopes and dreams and triumphs and tragedy and laughter and silence. But also do this in the small sense. The small sense of making the other breakfast, of taking the bins out, of filing a tax return, in the sense of all the things that are the routine and the mundane. Even be ready to go to a geotechnical engineer conference instead of one about cuttlefish(!). Be ready to make continual sacrifices in the name of love.

But, beautiful Tabitha, in all of this, keep your eager and earnest heart, your excitement, tenderness and enthusiasm. For after all of the hard work, the waiting, the exhaustion, the sacrifice, the seemingly endless tilling of the soil – comes the harvest. May you one day be able to look out at the fields of your marriage (your labour of love, if you will) and see golden crops across the horizon. May you and James together stake everything you have on the truth of the gospel and reap the rewards. Would people look upon you two and see in you the love that Christ has for his church, and be drawn in by the joy and the grace by which you two face the world.

So be ready for the hard work, and be ready for challenge. But also be ready for adventure. Be ready for celebration. And be glad, for the love that you give to James and others will always be exceeded by that love which is given freely to you. And the strength that you need to have now, next year and thereafter will always come from the most steadfast of sources. And, when the photographer is a no-show, don’t worry because we’ll work something out. When the vicar has a funny voice, laugh because it’ll be a funny story told in the years to come. When your friends (including me), say all the wrong things, be comforted by the fact we mean well and love you dearly. When the food is mediocre, remember that you are fed by the bread of life through which lasting satisfaction comes. And when your dress tears, rejoice! Your beauty comes not from the dress you will wear but from the beauty of your heart and who you are made to be. I pray that you would be full of joy on your wedding day, whatever happens, because you are marrying a wonderful man and together you know the riches of God’s grace.

I pray that you would be getting ready to see the faithfulness of God in all that is to come. Be ready to be surprised, to be awed, to be overcome by all that Jesus has done for the two of you and all that he has yet to do.

And finally, above all else, I pray that in all things you would hold fast to the cross, for the cross is the model of perfect love. And holding onto the cross is always the very best way to be getting ready.

Tabitha, I pray for readiness, and for every blessing upon this next year.

All my love,

Rachel

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