Tuesday, May 17, 2011

the story of job

This past semester, I took Old Testament. I know, a senior in Wilbur William's Old Testament class, pretty funny. I had little choice in the matter, being a double major in nursing and addictions counseling (well, that was my choice), but I take a little pride in my very last college final being Old Testament. Weird, I know.

If you're wondering why I'm writing about Old Testament the Monday before my wedding, I've had an interesting beginning to my wedding week. At first, I wasn't going to share that I'm feeling sick. In fact, earlier today at the doctor's office, I told my mom that I didn't want us telling anyone. My plan was by the time people start arrive for the wedding they'd have no idea - I can definitely kick in excited and peppy Emilie by Wednesday. But over the past two days, my body has taken a hard toll of the common cold, blowing snot, sore throat, sneezing, itchy ears, picture perfect case. It's hard feeling achy on such an exciting week - there was a lot of denial at first as if I could completely ignore the fact that my head feels ten pounds heavier than normal due to the congestion.

Perhaps, I didn't want my body to feel this way because I didn't want to hear it's because I'm stressed. My pride tends to want to be able to hold it together. Plus, no one especially a bride likes to be told they are stressed. While I haven't felt as stressed about the wedding as I did about graduating college (weird, I know), I probably should recognize that there's some left over stress from school spilling into the wedding and compromising my immune system. So, yes, I fully admit that I don't feel good, and the past two days have left me a bit exhausted, but let me tell you the bittersweetness of this situation.

In Old Testament, we finished the semester with by far my favorite lecture of Wilbur. He told the story of Job, and I think it's the only OT class I came remotely close to crying (just to clarify, that is not my criteria for a good class, which we can talk about later). Wilbur stated over and over again that there are certain things that God allows certain individuals to endure such heavy pain, and we have no idea why. It isn't punishment for sin, but Wilbur believes God allows them to endure more than someone who couldn't handle it. Perhaps later God will use them to support another suffering individual. I've seen and heard this in so many ways especially throughout this past semester: a terrifying act of abuse of a young college student, an emotional and physical challenging beginning to a pregnancy, a healthy baby drastically being stillborn after the mother fell, the earthquake in Japan, very hard things.

In a moment like this when I have a little ol' cold the week of my wedding, I tend to think of those who are by far in more pain than I. I ask myself how these people will heal from such losses and hurt. Through my small trial this weekend, I've felt God's healing through such precious relationships. This is what I've experienced:

"Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great" (from Job 2:11-13).

Clearly, I'm not suffering as Job did, but like him, I have felt community surround me. The past two to three days I have been tired and emotional. But God has been so faithful. I am so thankful for friends who have helped baking monster cookie favors, assemble mix cd favors, make little flags. Blessed by my parents and family who have sewn napkins, made table runners, painted signs, picked me up east end cokes, washed mason jars. Especially yesterday and today, the little notes of encouragement completely unexpected: a voicemail from my youth pastor, an email from my favorite high school teacher, encouragement postcards from my closest friends, a close family friend of Logan's parents sending me the most beautiful wedding advice (along with a cute elementary photo of Logan), random text messages, facebook messages, such beautiful words.

As the wedding approaches, I completely believe every act of kindness has been part of God's timing. I realize in the story of Job that his friends later say some good and not so good things to him, blames him that he deserves to suffer, and God eventually rebukes Job's friends. However in chapter two of Job, I am amazed by the way in which God uses others to speak into lives and carry burdens. I'm such a little sociologist and look at people through the lens of society and environment, the people and places that have shaped them. By no means is that the only thing that defines us, and of course, people may disappoint us, but it is so beautiful how we uphold one another.

Before I was engaged and throughout this wedding preparation, I've thought and said over and over that I wanted my wedding to be threaded with community, created and celebrated by those Logan and I love and who have loved us so well. I've had to rely and depend on so many people. In these past few days without friends even knowing the things I'm feeling or experiencing, I've been overwhelmed with love and support. Funny enough, this is exactly how I imagined our wedding.

For those who have given us words of encouragement, spent evenings baking and crafting, given us beautiful things for our future home, loved us so deeply, we thank you. Those three words feel so small, but we are immensely thankful and very blessed. Thank you, thank you for celebrating with us.

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