I’m starting this a little late. I’m just over 7 months into my 10-month engagement, but I feel the urge to write. Please don’t mistake this as a place for me to vent about wedding details, or talk about color schemes or picking the right photographer. I could never claim to be an expert on any of those areas (however, happy to share my experience if asked!) What I really want to write about is what all-too-often gets forgotten in the wedding planning craze… the Engagement.
No, not the engagement as in the day we got engaged, but these horribly beautiful and tangled up 7+ months that have been our attempt at becoming a family. I looked up the definition of engaged and there were a few options- my favorite was: “emotional involvement or commitment”.
A quick backstory: If you don’t know us (me and my future hubby- Todd) we’re everything the same and everything different. We met at work, and over a few conversations about avocados in the kitchen, we progressed into friends. Then we became friends that spent hours talking on the phone, making plans to be in the same vicinity on the weekends, and eventually accidentally kissing after a night that lasted a glass of wine too long. But it was beautiful. And when I finally admitted that I really liked this person that was pursuing time with me, it was even more than beautiful.
After 9 months of dating (wow, that sounds short) he popped the question. He says he knew right when he met me that he was going to marry me. I think that’s what gave me the confidence to blossom in our relationship- he came into it with a purpose. It wasn’t forceful; just confident, patient and intentional. The engagement weekend was a perfect blur of excitement, accomplishment and pure giddiness. He had surprised me with a weekend away to Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, so we were staying in an incredible hotel. The night that he proposed, I remember not being able to sleep a wink (and for those of you who know me, I can sleep through anything)! In my head, the whole event was already forming- the wedding date, my bridesmaids, his groomsmen, location, colors… this was all new to me! I wasn’t the girl who had her dream wedding planned, so every aspect was a new idea! I finally rolled over around 3am and he wasn’t sleeping either, so we decided to revel in our excitement and ordered a huge meal from room service and talked until morning about our big plans. I’ll remember that night forever.
Coming back to work that Monday was strange- everything in my life just changed but was still the same. Everyone had questions about the date and the dress and I felt overwhelmed, but also like I was just admitted into a new club- a “Bride to Be” club. My days were filled with phone calls to venues, photographers, DJs, negotiating contracts and managing the many flying opinions from family and friends that circled me everywhere I went. It’s humorous if you let it be, and I learned that I had to let it be.
All that said to get here, 7 months in. The trials and confrontations that God has given to my fiancé and me over the last few months have completely surprised me. At times we felt like the ground was snatched from under us. I can write about them now because we’ve landed on new, unfamiliar and what appears to be stable ground. Stable as in something we can start building on.
I guess no one warned me of this because no one’s story is the same. I’d love to give a blueprint to future bride and groom-to-be’s, but I’ve come to realize that I’m just not that smart.
Our first big fight was over a mission trip to South Africa for which I signed up. I made the commitment about 2 months before we were engaged, and blindly thought I had his support. Only once we were engaged, I found out how fearful he was and how he truly did not want me to go. What!? I’m following something I feel God laid on my heart and he’s against it? How could he!? Ok, this must be my test- God wants me to go and now he is going to make me choose between my future husband and him. How cruel! What am I supposed to do? Ok, I will choose God.
That’s how it played out in my head, and I honestly thought I had figured it out. We prayed and prayed and PRAYED, but my fiancé never got in the same boat as me. I felt tormented. I begged for peace with my decision and fought with myself over what was right. I chose God, and I knew that didn’t mean it would be easy or peaceful (all I had to do was re-read the stories of His disciples to know that choosing Him does not equal a life of comfort and ease). But there was something else- it felt like I missed the point even though I had figured it all out. This was a test. And I was going to follow God and pass with flying colors no matter what, dangit.
Yea, not so much. And then after MONTHS of tear-streaked fights with each other and wrestling with this and lying on the floor in prayer, God did something really cool. He made me change my prayer. I prayed “Lord, I’m not going to go to South Africa. I’m stubborn, committed, and the last person to back out of anything. Maybe I should back out of this. How do you feel about that? What do you want from me?” And I waited. And then, I felt peace. Now I do realize, this peace could have come from the fact that I knew it would make my fiancé happy, and knew that there would be no more arguments and we could close the book. And I’m sure some relief came from that. However, I chose to wait a few days and sit with the decision before telling anyone. I kept asking God for reassurance and I kept receiving it in many different ways. On the night I decided to tell Todd he cut me off before I could speak. He said that he had been praying and knew he needed to support me even if he was scared. So he donated to my trip the night before. I was overwhelmed with joy and knew that I could count on him to support me, yet I was also confident in the decision that God gave me. I told him, “I’m not going to South Africa.” He was confused and worried that I made the decision for him. I told him about the lesson for me here and how it wasn’t the one I expected. For me, going to a foreign country and loving on children in poverty is easy. I’m not afraid, and I’ve always been up for an adventure. What is hard for me is sacrificing my need for excitement, adventure and big stories and putting someone else’s need before my own. For me there are two big lessons here. Lesson #1: Put my future-husband first (though not before God). Lesson #2: Listen to God and discover what he is teaching ME. Don’t try to outsmart what God has planned.
To me, this story- this trial, this is engagement. Loving each other enough to change your perspective. Loving each other enough to go all the way through to the end of a disagreement.