Grant proposed to me on December 13th and I am officially an engaged woman! Wedding planning has me stoked (probably a tad too stressed, as well), and I know that being engaged is supposed to be an exciting, celebratory time. And I am excited and celebrating.
But I’d be lying if I said that Grant and I are having the time of our lives. I pray to God that this is not all there is.
Because relationships are not easy. They are back-breakingly hard.
And if you are dying to be in my shoes, I want you to know that sometimes I’d really like to be in yours.
This is where everyone scolds me for getting engaged. You’re not ready! Are you sure he’s the right one? This is an awful attitude to have when you’re getting married.
But is it so awful? To have the realization NOW that love feels almost impossible sometimes than have that realization AFTER we vow to spend the rest of our lives together?
I’m thankful that my eyes are opened continually to the selfishness of my nature and the selfishness of his. I’m perhaps even glad that we fight and raise our voices and feel hurt from the weight of each other’s weaknesses.
Why? Because when I say “I do” to this man, I’ll know that I really mean it. I’ll know that this commitment I am declaring before God and my loved ones hasn’t been made in blind love. It’s been made through tears and anger and fears and some bitterness, too.
I believe that the decision to marry someone is a commitment that should not be made when you’re happy. It should be made when you’re in your lowest of lows, when you’ve seen some of the tough stuff that this commitment will ask of you and bring into your life.
Although I know marriage is not all there is to life, I do believe God designed it to be a beautiful and life-long demonstration of Christ’s love for us. And in case you are unaware, Christ loves us through EVERYTHING. Our good times, our best behavior, and also our weakest and darkest moments. It doesn’t make sense. And Grant and I want to love each other in this nonsensical way, too.
We must be crazy because we are nowhere near ready to be married. We are young and immature and bad at love. Yet we are ready for marriage in the regard of signing up for this ludicrous idea of lifelong love anyway… because that’s the kind of commitment that I know marriage takes.
After watching married couples struggle and fight and divorce and mourn, I know that the ones who remain committed to each other must be crazy. And not crazy in love. They’re so crazy that they plot murder while somehow not acting on it. They’re wrapped up in a terrifying, almost-ridiculous commitment that watches love walk out the door again and again yet still hopes and still stands firm.
I’ve only begun making this commitment to Grant. It’s something you do with an officiant and some witnesses, but it’s also a decision you continue to make and live with for the rest of your life. And I want to take the next step.
Because I know this is one back-breaking, gut-wrenching commitment that will take me places I didn’t want to go and then carry me to places I never want to leave.
The reality is that relationships and marriages will face opposition and bring you some of the worst pain you’ve ever known all while being one of the greatest adventures you could ever ask to be on.
Because even though it’s far from perfect, it’s with him. And even though you will have thoughts of walking away during tough nights and loud fights, you will realize you wouldn’t want it any other way. Easier, maybe. But not if it means a different man at a different time in a different place. You see the beauty in where you are, the holy ground you both have been standing on.
And you realize that this desire to fight for just one chance with this one man is love.
Faithful, tried and true love with room to grow.
This is where Grant and I are at. I know we have so much left to learn. We’ve hardly even started figuring out this whole dating thing, let alone this permanent doing-life-together thing called marriage.
But we’ve figured out that it has to be done together. Join or die.
Are you in this with me?
Yes, I say.
Are you in this with me?
Yes, he replies.
It somehow becomes enough. When you know that you have a God beside you and going before you, you start to see things in a different way.
Thoughts of giving up become prayers of surrender. Signs of failure become opportunities for growth. A growing faithfulness to each other becomes an increased awareness of God’s faithfulness to us.
I’m sharing these things because I want you to know why I am marrying Grant, but I am also sharing these things because I want you to know what it might be like when you’re engaged. If you’re wishing to be in my shoes because you don’t yet have a ring on your finger, I want to emphasize one thing.
Having a ring on my finger has not made a single thing better. It’s just made things more real.
And I don’t know about you, but I need more of reality. I need to see things as they really are so I can stop standing in one place and wishing for something to magically happen instead of doing the work that I know building a life together requires.
I need constant reminders that love isn’t magic. Love is a beautiful gift from God and of God that we’re still figuring out how to wield. That’s why we need to be on our knees, praying out of desperation for the things only God can do. That’s why we need to be alert, aware of the attacks of satan that have been trying to strangle Grant and I since day one.
When I first got a taste of this reality, I hated love. I hated Grant. I hated the promises I made. I hated this ring. Take it back! I wanted to scream. But after pushing through that hate and that bitterness and that fear and those doubts, I began to figure out that I do love being engaged to this man. Despite the harshness of reality and the lack of magic in this ring, I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s a conclusion I’ll have to keep coming back to for the rest of my life. That’s marriage.
If some of these things sound like dumb reasons to get married, then I guess we’re getting married for some dumb reasons. But regardless of whether we have the best of reasons or the absolute worst, I know we’ll stay married for beautiful, wise reasons.
Christ is in it for the long haul and so are we.