In nearly 75 days, I get to marry my very best friend. How crazy is that?!
You know what else is crazy? The engagement process.
As soon as Josh slipped a ring on my finger, we were immediately members of a new club, initiated with hugs, well wishes and so much advice. Usually, these words of wisdom fell into two camps:
- Enjoy every moment of this special time in your lives.
Admittedly, I will always be a hopeless romantic when it comes to love and marriage. The last five months, however, have won my sympathies for the latter.
Originally, I thought we would sail through this time of hashing out the details of flowers and dresses in unadulterated pre-marital bliss. Oh, how precious and naïve I was only a few short months ago.
Engagement has truly been one of the most difficult seasons for us. I know in about 10 years, I will look back on this blog post (maybe) and belly laugh at the thought of this time being “hard” but for the purposes of here and now, it has rocked our world.
I struggle with making decisions to begin with. Why on earth I thought deciding 1000 (literally!) tiny details would be stress-free is beyond me. Pair that with about five different opinions on those decisions, and you can understand why I cringe every time I know I have to check my to-do list on TheKnot.com. Trying to establish my thoughts and feelings, while simultaneously managing the emotional expectations of others has proven to be a task too difficult at times – and that is only the surface stuff.
Dig a little deeper than the immediate details, and preparing our hearts for marriage is a whole other ball game. Leaving and cleaving has been difficult for us in different ways. For instance, I had a tearful conversation with my mom upon her informing me that I would no longer need to call my dad to fix my car – clearly, I need sleep. Silly as it is, it’s another small step forward in relying on my husband for things I never even considered. Likewise, Josh is dealing with similar revelations, with less tears, I think.
Though on the outside our family cultures look similar, Josh and I operate in very different ways. Yet we keep trying, futilely, to bring habits from our respective families to the table while trying to create our own way of doing things; selfishly thinking, my way is better. Sometimes this comes out in big ways, like communicating through an argument. Other times, it’s something as silly as the proper way to dice a tomato. Either way, self-centeredness is at the core.
As part of our pre-marital counseling, we have been listening to Tim Keller’s sermon series entitled “Marriage.” Keller takes you through Ephesians 5:21-30 and discusses God’s understanding of marriage.
In the beginning of the passage, Paul says “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” He uses this as an assumption and basis for everything concerning marriage. That is to say, our human nature is not capable, apart from the Holy Spirit, of the humility and willingness it takes to lay down our own desires for the sake of other people. Essentially, our natural tendency toward self-centeredness cannot be part of the equation.
I did not make it through the first 15 minutes of the first sermon without having to pause in the middle of my notes and ask God to soften my heart. It brought to mind all of the arguments that have been had, all of the times I’ve sulked for feeling short-changed; and how difficult marriage will be for us if we do not learn to lean on Christ for the ability to push ourselves out of the center for the other person, over and over again; to have a heart that is already postured to give, even if the other person’s is not.
I know there are some who will read this and smile, remembering their own first years of marriage and the bittersweet lessons that it brings. Others might know the sting of selfishness all to well, and the havoc it wreaked on now broken relationships. There may be a few who are standing in the fire with us, being refined by new ways of thinking about one another, considering them in ways that never occurred to you, and striving to love them like Jesus loves does. To all of you, I ask that you pray for Josh and I, as we make our way to August and begin a new (and truly wonderful) chapter of life together – and know that I am praying for you.