Bridal Shoes

The swell of emotion took me by surprise. A mix of joy, anticipation, and sorrow was a familiar yet distant memory provoked by the simplest object — shoes.

Past, present and future intersected in a pair of dainty, lace, peep-toe bridal pumps.

My daughter’s first pair of shoes, the ones in which she took her first steps, are treasured possessions.  Those tiny feet were always ready for adventure and exploration.

As her feet grew, each shopping trip for shoes evoked emotions that at the time I didn’t understand. Unexplained tears broke loose as a mix of feelings flooded my heart. How could a simple purchase of shoes provoke such a strong swell of tender feelings? Each purchase told me that a season had passed and that my little girl was moving rapidly to her future.

Now, a June wedding is approaching complete with vibrantly colored gardens, to mark Taylor’s new beginning. As her dad escorts her down the aisle to her husband, I hope I can take it all in — that I can pause and reflect, “Well, look at you — look at the woman you’ve become” as past, present and future intersect in that moment.

I sense the tears will come signaling that a season has passed and that those dainty, lace, peep-toe bridal pumps will walk her into her future. Like the first shoes of her young life, these are the first in her life with Connor. Now, like then, her feet are ready for adventure and exploration.

Nearly 30 years have passed since her dad and I made our wedding walk down the aisle.  It seems I should have wisdom to pass along about how to have a long and successful marriage.  But I am acutely aware that our two daughters bore witness to most of our 10,000 days of married life. They’ve seen tenderness and joy marking our best days, coldness and hostility of our darkest days, and camaraderie and perseverance of our mundane days. Any wisdom offered would pale in comparison to the reality of their lives with us.

But as those dainty, lace, peep-toe pumps carry our daughter towards her new life, I reflect on what I wish I’d known 30 years ago. Marriage and oneness are still a mystery to me so I am hesitant to offer wisdom or advice.  Instead I will offer my seasoned hindsight.  I offer it as an invitation to the young bride who embarks on her new life, as grace to the naive bride that I was 30 years ago, and as a desire for the evolving woman of my present and future.  To each, I extend the following invitation as a blessing for the years ahead.

May you savor the good — slow down and be present in the moments that give joy. Treasure times of silliness and humor and allow them to multiply.

May you embrace the mundane — appreciate the rhythm and flow of ordinary days. Most of life consists of familiar routine. It may seem that ordinary days lack meaning and purpose, but know that authentic marriage is cultivating.

May you accept the troubled times — don’t fear the trials and storms that will come.   Disappointment, illness, death, brokenness and discord will happen.

After 30 years, I’m in awe of my marriage experience. But I’m also saddened by joys that I rushed past. My hope is that those dainty, lace, peep toe pumps will walk our daughter into a marriage that will fill her heart with awe. Savor the joy. Embrace the mundane. Accept the struggles. And know, through it all, God is establishing authentic marriage full of goodness and love.

Sharon Collignon has a small counseling ministry where she cares for the hearts of women. Her empathetic approach encourages growth and healing through exploration of personal stories in the context of God’s grander story. Sharon has been married to Ken for three decades and together they raised two delightful young women, Taylor and Sydney.