Probably because I didn’t join the group of single ladies grouped together to catch it. I was across the room in my seat. As usual. I think I gave up this practice somewhere around the age of 23, with only one exception.
However, this is not because I consider myself bitter or cynical.
And not because I think this is an antiquated ritual that has led to false hope and mystical thinking.
(The representation of the bouquet and garter toss is that the persons catching each would be the next to get married. This is a tradition passed on from a day when people would rip at the bride’s dress and flowers in hopes to gain her good fortune.)
I think I initially stopped participating because it felt embarrassing. Yes, let’s call all of the single women together so everyone can watch them fight over flowers…
Whereas some women can handle this gracefully, I could not. So at the tender age of 23 the feeling of embarrassment won over any other pull to participate.
I think this feeling of embarrassment stemmed from fear. I did not want people to know I desired marriage – that I desired to be a helper. To me, that (unfulfilled) desire signified weakness; as if to say I do not want to do life alone meant that I cannot do life alone.
The two statements are not the same, but the depth at which they are felt is similar.
But just because I do not want to do life alone does not mean I cannot do life alone; and neither of these statements mean I am alone. Yes, there is a sadness to an unfulfilled desire, but the sadness should not give way to fear.
And I do not claim to be the only woman to feel this or that this is only felt by women.
When I watched as the single men were called to much the same, my heart hurt a bit. They gathered together, rather awkwardly, looking confused. When the garter was tossed, landing about two feet from the groom, it was as if the single men froze. Temporarily paralyzed, no one stepped forward to pick it up. Instead, they stared at the garter and then looked to one another as if to ask, “who is going to go get it?”
With a crowd watching the group of men and wondering if the toddler would scoop it up (which he never did as he was equally disinterested), one man stepped forward to the relief of the awkward tension building and the lack of enthusiasm felt.
I don’t get to go too many weddings, but the ones I have been to have been similar.
What is it about my generation that refuses to step forward – or participate? That shies away from relationship?
Why are we afraid of finding out that we are created for relationship?
Why do we let fear be the deciding factor in our response?
Perhaps going through life without this relationship somehow makes us feel as though we are singled out because we are broken.
But we are all broken. Each person is broken. Each relationship is broken.
Could we begin to change the response? Could we redirect the focus?
What if we began to shift our response from a basis of fear to a foundation of truth? What if we began to act on the belief that God is for us, not against us? What if we began to act on the belief that God will never leave us or forsake us? What if we began to act on the belief that God loves us?
Maybe that looks like men stepping forward to receive relationship – even if it has fallen short. Maybe that looks like women engaging in reaching out in hope of a relationship being extended to them. Maybe that takes the humane shape wrapped in skin, a crooked smile and awkward laughter. Maybe that takes the shape of the Lord filling that space so full with himself the desire slowly releases into who he is.