with equal parts compassion & hilarity

Being loved well

Near the end of my wedding reception, I was walking away from the stage towards the back of the room. It was like most wedding receptions; the masses of crowds had mostly filtered out leaving the space half empty, the remaining people milled around with beers and chex mix in their hands, and the music continued to play for the tipsy bridesmaids. People were happy if not slightly drunk from the keg of Coors and the air smelled like laughter, sweat, and homemade pie. I hadn’t peed all night because I was nervous to try to shimmy out of my dress so that’s where I was headed when I passed the table where the bridesmaids’ significant others were lounging at. 

I was ready to offer a smile and quick hello as I passed by, but it took me a moment to realize that they weren’t. The guys were sitting at the same table in the way that guys do; one chair in between them, notoriously silent. Beads of sweat fell from their brows as a result of their button-down shirts and the heat of the reception hall. Small smiles spilled from their mouths.

The pair had become friends on that day, if only for that day—spouses of the bridal party members seem to always become quick friends. I don’t even think they saw me approach—even in my glaringly white dress and all. No, their eyes were fixed on the dance floor, where my two tipsy bridesmaids, their beloveds, held hands and spun and hip-checked each other to the beat of the music.

I momentarily forgot my bathroom mission and turned to watch them watch ever so briefly. I was filled with appreciation and joy that my two bridesmaids had chosen to love men who look at them the way they deserved to be looked at. I tried, too, to look at my bridesmaids and see what their men were seeing at that moment. I can’t say that what I saw was exactly the same, but what I saw was this: my two lovely friends in long dusty rose dresses dancing and doubling over in laughter at themselves and each other.

They radiated joy and silliness along with compassion and intelligence. They were beautiful in the way that they always are, but the darkened room seemed to make them shine even more. I wonder too if the way their men looked at them made them appear more beautiful as well. They were unaware of the guys looking at them—too in the moment of dominating the dance floor, but being loved well makes a person all the freer to be themselves, unabashedly and wholly beautiful.

Am I loving my people that well? In a way that encourages them to be all the more comfortably their unique and talented selves? In a way that prompts unabashed and whole beauty?

Header image: Sophie Grace Photography

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