Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Big M-word (Marriage)

This is a long one... so.... tough through it with me haha.

I made a conscious decision about half-way through high school that I wanted to withhold from "finding the man of my dreams" until after college, so that I could focus on my career and get somewhere in life. When I graduated high school, I was surprised to see so many people my age getting married. My parents were happy to hear that I thought they were all crazy-- I mean, if I got married at that time I would be giving up on all my dreams and what-if's and could-be's. I couldn't imagine giving up my dreams to go to France and living on my own to find my identity out here in this crazy world. I'm a pretty independent person who finds joy in doing things on her own, so I looked forward to taking on the world by myself.

I seriously judged these people for jumping into marriage so young.

This world preaches to us to wait for marriage because it supposedly "is the end of your life as you know it". Marriage is when you have to give up your dreams and get into the hard stuff of life. You are forced to think about the negatives of marriage-- what if you hate it? What if you marry the wrong guy? What if you get a divorce? And really, the only thing that people enthuse about marriage is the wedding. You have to have the perfect dress, the perfect venue, the perfect reception. However, perfect marriages are not something that is talked about a lot.

You see some of the older couples who have just celebrated their 50th anniversary and you think, "Wow. Thats really great." yet everywhere you turn in your generation, that sacred idea is being torn apart. Marriage is only a certificate these days, not a covenant that God has ordained.

I went through my first year of college confident that I would be single for the rest of my life (haha). Not finding the man of my dreams would probably lead me to finding the man of my nightmares if I was lonely enough. And there were days (lots of days) where I was just plain lonely. For a girl who hasn't had many romantic relationships, its easy to think that Prince Charming just isn't out there. I fought between "WHERE IS MY PRINCE?!" and "I'M A STRONG INDEPENDENT WOMAN WHO DON'T NEED NO MAN." My friends and roommates can attest to this. All my life, I've been fed by the ladies in my life that we grow up to become wives and when you grow up hearing "When you're married one day.... " you look forward to finding your mate. Even when your worldly view doesn't want anything to do with marriage yet. Its confusing.

So the summer after my Freshman year, I find him. Yes, him. It was a whirlwind of my world turning upside down (in a good way) and making me rethink all of my life plans. You know, people say that fairytale love stories aren't real anymore, but I'm here to say that ours is. Falling in love with him was easy. Uncomplicated. Graceful. I didn't have the anxiety of whether he felt the same or not, he was always open and honest with me and that was the foundation of our relationship. Within a month, we knew that we had found the person we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with. Meaning, marriage was spoken of that early. To anyone reading this, I'm sure you gasped.

"What?! You think you're going to marry someone after you've been dating a month?! You're stupid, immature, and full of it."

I struggled with this. I was preaching the "You just know" mentality while the world was telling me "You don't know someone until you've been with them at least 2 years". And I know its true that you don't truly know everything about someone until you've been together for a long time, but it was different for us. We did everything possible to make sure there were no walls between us. We were 100% transparent. 100% honest. 100% giving. 100% aware of what was ahead. Immediately, we were in prayer of our future. Our present. Our knowledge gained from the past. It was a long-distance relationship that summer because he lived a good hour and a half away but we stayed in contact throughout every day as much as possible. Talked on the phone every night as we went to sleep.

I found this quote by Elbert Hubbard which kind of jarred me.

The one thing that stood out to me in this quote is this: since when is the whole idea of marriage a mistake? Sure, if you're getting married for the wrong reasons. But if you love someone, truly love someone and can't go a day without them and would do anything for them- why is marrying them a mistake?

Here's what I know to be true about marriage: The sooner you get married, the sooner you can stop living for someone other than yourself. Marriage is not selfish- its the exact opposite.

It is 100% accepted between my man and I that our covenant to each other begins now. I've been preached to that the engagement is when you decide whether or not you're actually going to be with this person forever but our relationship has been different than anything anyone has ever preached to me. 

We didn't start out normal. We found each other through uncoincidentally attending the same church, barely knew each other on our first date, prayed with each other in the parking lot of Amelies on the first date and within two weeks, we were convinced we were falling deep in love with each other. Within a month, we knew God had led us to each other for a divine purpose. Telling my parents that I knew I was going to marry this man they didn't know was hard. Lectures and arguments proceeded. We couldn't really see eye to eye on the matter because frankly, they weren't in the midst of our relationship so they didn't really know our hearts. 

I expected judgement from everyone. Mainly for the fact that I was once that judger. Not everyone has a love story like ours and not everyone can understand or empathize with it. And relationships are between 2 people (excuse me, 3 people including God)-- not 500. So when people were surprised to find us in a serious relationship months into it, I didn't take offense. Everyone on Facebook simply does not need to know when we make promises to each other. 

Were it not for me being in college and my entire family telling me everyday we have to wait until I'm done with school until we get married, we probably would have been engaged by 6 months. We tried to be cautious, however. We tried to take it one day at a time. We accepted that us getting married was an event far far away... until the days away from each other became harder. Goodbyes felt impossible to say. We felt so drawn to each other, we literally would cry before parting if we knew it would be more than a week before we saw each other again. I never thought I was the person to have that sort of relationship... that feeling like you literally can't live without someone. But there I was... and still am. We got to a point that the word "goodbye" was not an option, and replaced it with "See you soon". Marriage began to creep to the forefront of our hearts.

1 Timothy 4 says "Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead. They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth. Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer."

Over a year ago, if you had told me my brain was in a tug of war with my heart over marriage, I would have scoffed. But I had become a different person, I had a different mindset. I knew we would have little support from the world if we decided to get married sooner than later. The troubles of this world can overshadow the Godly decision to take part in a covenant. Reality is tough. We weren't blind to the high possibility of pain and failure.

In the midst of this tug of war within both me and my man, we witnessed the sacred covenant of marriage being ripped to shreds all around us. We agreed that God had put us together to lift up His original creation of marriage... to proclaim the goodness of God in a covenant. Knowing how flawed we were (are), knowing how often we fail our Savior... we knew this was a chance to bring glory to Him. Maybe in a way that wasn't pleasing to everyone, but in a way we knew was pleasing to Him.

God has revealed so much about myself and more importantly, His character, through our relationship. I thought I was patient, I was shown how impatient I am. I thought I was a decent person, I was shown how truly self-serving I am. Despite all my faults, I was given so much grace. Not only through my sweet Savior Jesus, but through the love of my sweet man, who took all of my crazy in his hands and loved it selflessly, with grace. I was given a man who proclaimed Jesus over us from the beginning and through every day of our relationship. 

Today, I'm smiling with gratefulness in my heart... for the sleepless nights of prayer, for the days of uncertainty, for the moments of doubt, for the confusion in my mind, for the long...long...long... wait.
Some people have to wait longer. Some people have different circumstances. Some people simply aren't able to get married. I thought that was gonna be us. But I knew God wanted us together and so I knew that He would provide.

Today, that gratefulness in my heart for the difficult past few months is because the harvest is finally here. We have support, we have encouragement, we have loving people loving us through this decision and I can't help but cry such happy tears. I am filled with such joy.

I'm engaged. And soon, I will be married to the best man I've ever known. 
And as wonderful as this journey has been, it also hasn't been all rainbows and butterflies.
We've had to really trust God with our situation. It hasn't been easy. We had OUR plans, but God seems to always have a different one. And its always better.

Every difficult time in my life is defined by this: a lack of trust. 
God wanted me to trust Him with everything surrounding marriage before He could give us the opportunity to get married. 
And I'd be a liar if I said I completely trust Him with everything. 
I still doubt. I still question a lot of stuff.  
But I also think that God understands my doubt. He understands my questions. He understands my anxiety, and also my family's anxiety. 
But He's here. He always has been and always will be. 
I felt Him that first night in the parking lot of Amelies. I cried the whole way home because I knew that something special--something different --was happening. 

You don't have to believe me. You don't have to support us. 
But my sweet, sweet Father is with us. He is for us. 
And we're asking to take part in a journey that a lot of people depart from before the trip is finished. 
Together, we're standing saying "Here we are God, send US".

With God, ALL things are possible.