“Here we go,” I muttered to myself as I clutched the long skirt of my plum dress in my manicured hand. I walked toward one of my best friends in all the world. She was a stunning bride – her hair curled, her eyes shining, her joy contagious. It was truly an honor to stand by her side as a bridesmaid.
She held a pale purple bouquet over her head and posed for a mini photo shoot with the photographer, while those of us who had never had a wedding of our own – the maid of honor, the flower girl, a few other female guests, and me – gathered behind her.
Earlier, I’d offered her money if she would just turn around and hand me the bouquet. Figured it could go into the honeymoon fund. She’d just laughed.
Though I’ve jokingly offered bribes to brides over the years, I’ve never actually caught the bouquet. It doesn’t matter that I’m tall or that I can have laser-focus when needed. It’s just never happened for me. It’s part of wedding reception tradition: the girl who catches the bouquet is said to be the next one to get married.
Of course, that’s not how life works. God doesn’t glance up from disc-jockeying some tectonic plates or something and say, “Oh, she’s next. Alexa, remind me to start working on that.”
It’s all in good fun. But at the same time, in some small way, it matters to me.
[This is the part where we pull some folding chairs into the vulnerability circle and get real]
I have my share of date stories. I’ve been taken out for a nice dinner, given gifts, and treated with admiration, but none of those kind, generous guys have been The One. And that’s fine with me. I don’t regret any of it.
Yet weddings do a really good job of pointing out what I don’t have. That unfulfilled dream, that hope deferred, that birthday candle wish. That middle-of-the-night whispered prayer.
That little bouquet seems to mock me every time: “You’re all alone. No guy loves you. You’ll never know this kind of happiness.”
In those moments (usually with Beyoncé singing for all the single ladies to put their hands up) when I’m surrounded by little girls who believe in Prince Charming and happily-ever-after, and when I’m standing next to girls with boyfriends waiting back at the table, I’m most susceptible to those lies.
And my heart always hums this prayer: Do you see me down here, God?
Every time the bouquet sails in a direction that is not in the direction of where I stand with a smile plastered on my face like a piece of duct tape hiding my real feelings, I feel my heart sink toward my stomach.
Then the catcher of that clump of flowers – the lucky winner – poses with the bride. She most likely imagines the coming day when she’ll be the one tossing the flowers over her shoulder to all the single ladies who put their hands up.
In case this realness makes me sound like a cynic, please know I’m not. I’m a hopeless romantic at heart. I love weddings and all the special details surrounding them. I get teary-eyed watching the groom watch his bride walk toward him down the aisle.
I love sweetness and tenderness, the white dress and unity candle, the dream come true and the start of forever.
It’s just that pesky bouquet toss.
But back to my friend’s wedding…
There I stood with the other single girls, waiting on the bouquet. Not bribing the bride, but just letting things happen.
The photographer snapped that picture. The bouquet sailed through the air. I reached out, and…
Dear reader, I caught the bouquet.
It landed in my hands, the bride turned around, and we threw ourselves at each other in a hold-on-tight hug.
We laughed and grinned and the photographer snapped pictures of the hoopla. The bride glanced over at me and said one of those best friend things that only the two of us would understand, and it made tears spring into my eyes. There was the picture with the guy who caught the garter and then I carried that bouquet back to the wedding party table where a taco was waiting for me.
I know catching that bouquet doesn’t mean I’ll get married next. But as I drove home that night with my makeup melting off my face and my hair rebelling against the bobby pins, I whispered, “Thank you, God, for seeing me.”
It was just a wedding tradition. Just a little detail. But I’m a big believer that God does everything with intention, and that He wants to show us how much He loves us in those little details He designs.
So when I caught the bouquet, I heard God speak. It was more of a deep-down knowing, but I heard Him as clearly as if He’d stood in front of me and said, “I love you, kid.”
I heard Him whisper to my heart, “You’re mine. I haven’t forgotten about you. I care about your dreams, and I see you.”
That last part is actually one of God’s names in the Bible: The God Who Sees Me. Or, El Roi in Hebrew.
This name is spoken by a lonely woman named Hagar, who we read about in Genesis 16. God had promised a man named Abram and his wife Sarai a son, but as they got older, they got impatient. Sarai told Abram to sleep with Hagar, Sarai’s maid, and have a son that way. Hagar got pregnant, and bad blood brewed between the two women. Sarai treated Hagar so badly that she ran away and camped out in the wilderness by a spring.
She was pregnant and alone, with no way to support herself or her unborn child. She had nowhere to go.
But then the angel of the Lord showed up right in front of her, told her to go fix things with Sarai, and gave her some promises about the baby she carried.
Hagar called out to God and said: “You are the God who sees me. I have now seen the One who sees me.”
She called God El Roi. The God Who Sees Me.
In the middle of her loneliness, God let her know He hadn’t forgotten her. What a tender, sacred moment when God spoke through the details of her life.
My situation at the wedding was very different from Hagar’s, but like Hagar, I saw God at work in the details of my situation. How unbelievably kind of Him to remind me He’s near and that He cares for me.
When I got home, I placed the bouquet in a cup on my desk. Not as a reminder to make a Pinterest wedding board since my prince is on his way, but as a reminder that God cares about even the smallest details of my life.
Because He is El Roi. He is the God Who Sees Me.
And He sees you, too.