Life has been busy. Attempting to start and run a business, engagement, wedding planning, and house buying will consume your days believe it or not. I have only posted 3 blogs this entire year. I’ve written 11. Eight of those blogs are just sitting in my draft folder because I don’t have the time to come back and re-read them and edit them to finality. Thankfully, wedding planning and business running have taken a lull until the new year and the spirit and excitement of Christmas has my cup full and my heart reflective. I know after January 1st the days will fall off the calendar leading up to our wedding day.
Our wedding day. I can’t believe I’m getting married. I’m approaching the sweet day that I’ve been part of for so many friends, and had conceded not to have for myself for a long time, if ever. I’m getting the day that for the past 5 years, I’ve been too afraid to dream about because of the sting of disappointment associated with a relationship that had failed many times over. I saw no way to ever love anyone besides Justin, and I saw no way for us to ever reconcile. I saw no path to us having a day like this.
I’m not saying that to idolize marriage, or say that at 25 I felt like everyone was married but me, because I didn’t. I have been so uninterested in anyone outside of my [fiancee] for the past decade of life that outside of him, I didn’t even really long for a relationship. In complete sincerity, one Christmas my Grandpa questioned my sexual orientation due to my apparent lack of interest in dating males. I’m also pretty independent and ok with an alternative route, and getting married later because travel, adventure, independence, etc. was something that I was fine with. Disclaimer: Later in Georgia terms is 29. Later in everywhere else in the world terms is late 30s. There was never an issue of me longing for marriage at 25 because I only ever wanted that with one person, and it was impossible to even have a functioning relationship with that person. As I stood by my friends, one by one, full of anticipation, beauty, and joy, and so well loved by the man standing at the altar waiting for them, it always pressed on my heart “You will never have this”. If I imagined a wedding day at all, it was one of compromise and fear, that I would be crying walking down the aisle not because of overwhelming joy, but because the person at the other end of the aisle wasn’t who I wanted it to be. Oh the the things we can conjure up in our minds. So with those thoughts surrounding marriage for me, no, it wasn’t something that I greatly desired, and it was something that I feared – for multiple reasons. As many of my best friends can attest to, I am always the one who is uncomfortable and clammy and has a churning stomach on a wedding day. It has always been a “stay away from the bride because you are far from the essence of calm” situation. Not to mention the person I was in love with was always standing on the opposite side of the same wedding party, which intensified my feelings of panic.
Now, my feelings of panic and dread have turned into feelings of anticipation. I never imagined I could feel so ready to sign up for a husband.
In 2015, I was mourning the life that I am currently living. I remember driving down Sepulveda Blvd in Los Angeles, listening to some country song and thinking football games, acting like a jorts wearing redneck, and beach weekends in south Georgia aren’t going to be my life. My kids aren’t going to grow up knowing my best friends or knowing how to ride 4 wheelers and play in the mud. I just felt so stripped of every picture that I had of what my life would look like. But now that picture is enhanced, and the life that I mourned is resurrected, sweeter to me now than it ever could have been before. Justin and I both have moments that are completely normal, everyday happenings that we are both grateful for in a way that we wouldn’t experience, had our road been different.
We recently went out to dinner at a busy restaurant, standing packed like sardines into an entry way with other people, and servers zooming by. There were couples everywhere, which is normal, but we were both thinking, and verbally expressed later, that we were so grateful to be there with each other and not having to force small talk with someone we weren’t really interested in; something we were both too familiar with. The Holiday season for me used to have a gaping hole in it. You know that break ups, or deaths, or just missing anyone in general is amplified around the holidays, and that was no different for me. Since 2008 my Christmas season was basically pulling me out of the world of distractions that I lived in (school, work, sorority, UGA things) and brought me face to face with how deeply I missed my best friend. The holiday season of 2016 has looked very different, and I’ve let myself bask in the gratefulness that I feel that I don’t have to miss him; that I celebrate with him now. It is literally the biggest blessing that I can pick up the phone and call him any time I want.
Our story was twisted and mangled for so long. Even now sometimes when I speak the details out loud to someone I am acutely aware of what kind of mess we came out of. The miracle in that is that I am not aware of the mess we came out of on a daily basis, that it’s far removed from us. That mangled, twisted, messy, broken past makes the present sweeter. I get to be grateful for things that I would’ve so easily taken for granted had I never known what it meant to lack and to long. I am overwhelmingly thankful that I can lay on the couch with my soon to be husband, watch movies and order El Taco 1000 times and never get tired of it because I know what it’s like to be without that.
I get to see how God so beautifully orchestrated my story specifically. To break me down to rebuild, to give me a new, solid foundation. I can finally understand that the years of uncertainty were good, and needed. They built a level of intimacy with Jesus that I couldn’t have known otherwise. Those years prepared me to be a better and stronger woman, because I am not emotionally co-dependent, and I understand that my stability and security does not, can not, and will not ever come from my partner or my friends, but from My God.
I have seen mourning turned into dancing. I have seen promises that were hard for me to believe in, come to fruition. I am more able to fully believe the words of God because I’ve experienced their power, and how they nourish my emaciated spirit in times of desperate drought. My desires and my dreams were broken down to cracked remnants and given up; now they are whole and the thought of the future brings me joy where it once brought fear. Jesus used utter brokenness to bring the wholeness that I never could have attained outside of Him. I am living Ephesians 3:20 right now. “Now, to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think….to Him be the glory”. I never thought reconciliation was possible.
I am not implying marriage is the end all, be all. I am not delusional in thinking that marriage is a fairy tale, or an easy thing. We are already getting a taste of the hard things of marriage, and I know it’s the beginning of the most challenging part of most of our lives. I just want to celebrate what the Lord has done in making my life with Justin now better than I ever imagined it could be. I want to celebrate the fact that the Lord used years of brokenness and stripping me down to nothing but Him, to truly show me His face. To prepare me for life, and to teach me that every thing is orchestrated by Him. Whether it’s painful and hard, and looks like mascara running down your face as you run to your bedroom every night after work to hit your knees, or calling you to leave everything you know behind to get away with only Him. As hard as the last decade has been, and as much as I would never want to relive it, I wouldn’t change it.
I understand Job when He says “I have heard of You by hearing of the ear, But now my eyes see You” – Job 42:5. I say this to encourage anyone who is in the fire of refinement; the refinement process is painful and hard. But I know that anyone who has been in a season of deep struggling for more than a year can attest to the fact that it draws you into Jesus. The season of refinement allows you to see His face and experience His provision more tangibly than anything else. And dear friends, I can attest that the hard things make a season of abundance that much sweeter.
“…you, who through faith are sheilded by God’s power….in this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” – 1 Peter 6-7.