Shannon McDermott/ Christian Author Website (www.shannonmcdermott.com)
My husband. He’s tall. He’s dark. He’s handsome. I think. Actually, I don’t know. I may not have met him yet. He could be a short, balding blond with a dimpled cheek. If you find him, please call me at 1-777-HUSBAND. Reward offered. If you are that guy – the one who hasn’t shown up yet – your M.I.A. status is completely unacceptable to your future wife.
– Cheryl McKay, Finally the Bride
A missing poster, it must be said, is better than a wanted poster. On the other hand, even a wanted poster is better than being put on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. That will come later, in chapter six. The missing poster is the beginning – the opening salvo of Finally the Bride.
In Finally the Bride, Cheryl McKay takes on the plight of those who have to be single without the Apostle Paul’s special gift for it. She begins by “introducing the impatient one”: herself. She’s single, in her thirties, and everyone has a diagnosis as to what’s causing that. Maybe you can relate. If you feel the sting of those well-meaning people, telling a single woman what her problem is – you probably do.
Using her life as a baseline, Cheryl McKay spends the next twelve chapters exploring singleness in all its facts and feelings. She writes about the upside and the downside, the advantages and the vulnerabilities. She writes about how to best prepare for marriage; she writes about living the single years to their fullest.
She writes the most about God. Here we come to the main idea of the book. God, Cheryl tells us, cares about our hearts and will write our love stories – if we let Him have the pen. Surrender. Let God have His way.
Sometimes God’s way is a hard one for us to walk. Cheryl writes very openly about how she grappled with God’s script-writing for her life. Although singleness is always in view, Finally the Bride is broader than that. It transcends marital status as Cheryl brings us through her journey of waiting, of yielding, of learning to trust God even when His will was painful to her.
Yet and still, the book is written primarily for single women. There’s much advice, and I found it valuable. I would like to highlight two pieces of it – one on the practical side, one on the spiritual.
For the practical, she cautions women about the pitfalls of close friendships with men. (Briefly:here. More thoroughly: read the book!) I chose this because it is important and rarely heard. It’s needed – especially in our society, where the loss of old rules has left the sexes mingling with new ambiguity.
For the spiritual – well, let me quote the book: “God is a romancer. No one can match His love. No one in this world can love me more than Him. None. My search to find a love greater is fruitless. God’s love is unmatched. We search for many things to fill our God-sized holes. Only He can fill. Only He can fulfill. Only He can reach.”
In all this, Cheryl McKay does not write as a theologian or a commentator; she doesn’t write from a distance. She writes as one woman to another – and as a woman who herself is still waiting. Despite what the title may suggest, she was not finally a bride while penning these chapters.
That is the first twelve chapters. Then the book changes a little. The last few chapters read much more like an autobiography – but with a twist. Cheryl McKay wrote as events unfolded in her life – wrote each installment of the story without knowing how it would end. So these chapters have a real-time feel to them that is fresh and enormously compelling.
The book’s last chapter is written by Christopher Price. He gives another side of Cheryl’s story, as well as advice to both single men and women. It is an excellent addition to the book, as is the appendix. The appendix is a collection of stories – written by the women who experienced them – of God’s romance scripts. I wish there had been more.
Finally the Bride is a wonderful book. Cheryl McKay is a fluent writer, able in bringing depth, feeling, and humor. Her focus on God is encouraging and good medicine for the unwillingly single (and, for that matter, everyone else). There’s a rare realness and immediacy to this book. I recommend it to anyone waiting to be the bride – and even to those waiting for something else. Surrendering to God’s good sovereignty is a lesson we all need.