It has officially gotten to the point where I use simple household appliances (like the stove, for instance) and think, “Woah…in very little time, I’m going to have to learn how to use a new (insert thing here).” And also, I habitually thank God for the fact that my life will not be forever overwhelmed by the tempest of wedding planning, and that things will “get back to normal,” that He’s using this process to SERIOUSLY expose my own petty desires and hard and fast comfort zones that clearly need to be stretched, cracked, and then snapped.
The other day, I traveled to Vestal in order to place an order for a wedding cake there. I managed to get myself completely lost, and in the stress of change, of several details falling through or being shifted around, and of being misunderstood too many times in a row, and having very frank and honest conversations with Jacob, I sobbed and cried and fell into thoughts of self-pity and frustration. All the while, I was thinking, “I said I wasn’t going to get this way.”
My desire of handling the stress of planning the wedding and preparing for the upcoming changes was to handle all details, all hiccups, all difficulties, and all relationships with God’s love, patience, focus, wisdom, and understanding. I would depend on Him and see Him move. I would pray off my knee caps. I would not drag His name through the mud while making this transition.
Apparently, that desire does not mean, “I’m going into this with such a humble attitude, so obviously everything is going to go perfectly.”
As I cried over the steering wheel, lost in the highways of Johnson City, without a GPS, I tried calling my Mom. No answer. Knowing my Dad had the day off, I called him, still crying. I choked back my tears and all of my feelings as I explained the situation to him. And he spoke to me in the exact tenderness and love and humor that I needed right then. And God loved me through my Dad.
He patiently talked me through how to get to Vestal, reassuring me that everything would be fine and the wedding would be wonderful…Which, of course, I wasn’t really actual concerned about the specific details of the wedding, or even what the day would look like…I was more concerned about the fact that things weren’t going according to plan, and delegating is difficult for me (which I totally knew would be one of the hardest parts of this process), and that I wasn’t handling the whole “lots of things are changing all at the same time” thing very well.
When I finally arrived at my desired destination, my talk with the cake lady was wonderful. I’ve found that I feel most loved when people see that I have a need (even if I seem like I have it all together) and say “I will take care of that.” The attitude of this lady communicated that to me, and put my self-pity to shame. Strangely enough, I knew that, virtually, God was saying the same thing to everything I was worried about. “I’ll take care of that.”
After accomplishing my task for the morning, I decided to park myself in a Dunkin Donuts at the Vestal Wal Mart and spend time with God…and drink iced coffee accompanied by a glazed doughnut.
As I sat in the Dunkin Donuts, I cried as I poured out my thoughts and feelings to God. Goodness gracious, why was I so emotional?
I felt very far from the throne of grace, very much not like Jesus, or even like the adopted daughter of the King of kings. I felt childish, bratty, and selfish, while simultaneously feeling unconsidered, unimportant, and hurt. I felt like I was seeking to give to others without their thinking of giving to me, like I was making mistake after mistake, like a hypocrite, like I was alone. I felt sad, afraid, used, and tired. And, even though several things had happened that “triggered” these feelings, they were communicating something to me that was so far from the truth.
I was very loved, and people were being very accommodating, and so many were asking me how I was, what I was thinking about, asking how they could help, and seeking to make things be wonderful. Aunt Lori and Uncle Doug were being so helpful and supportive. My parents were providing so abundantly and graciously. Jacob was being so loving and comforting. I was getting to marry a man that I thought I would never meet.
My emotions were out of hand, amplified beyond my control.
And so I ran back to the promises of God, which were, even if it were true that I was unconsidered and seen as insignificant to others, it didn’t matter. First of all, God notices and considers me. He knows my heart and understands my desires, values, fears, and struggles. And my security in that and my identity in Christ is what makes me able to love others selflessly in the first place, regardless of their behavior towards me. Second of all, I’ve been seeking to be sure I don’t adopt the perspective that, even though Jacob and I are the ones getting married, it’s about us, but the opposite: Jesus is about others, so, therefore, we ought to be about others.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others as more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
While I’m certainly not saying that I ought to be a doormat and just go with whatever anybody else wants me to do, I am saying that I shouldn’t become so caught up in having my desires met and my values respected that I am so overwhelmed by my own emotions. Yikes. If my values are disregarded, I get to work on my communication with others, but having them disregarded should not hinder me from remembering my identity in Christ and the greater reason I love and communicate with others in the first place…if that makes sense.
Throughout the day, all I wanted to do was cry (pitiful, I know), not even because of the lies about the future, about myself, about Jacob, about God were bombarding me (though they were) but because I felt an enormous pressure on my heart and mind and didn’t know what to do about it. I felt very, very alone.
“Do not laugh at me, O my enemies. For though I have fallen, I will get back up. Though I sit in the dark, the Lord is my light.” (Micah 7:8)
Later that night, I went to prayer meeting at my church and spent a long time praying with Pastor Dan and Julie’s daughter, Sadie. We prayed for Jacob, for the wedding, for all of Sadie’s friends, for her family, and for our different struggles. And the more I prayed, the more I listened to the prayers of the women around me, the pressure lifted, the lies lost their power, and the storm subsided.
The whole day provided me with an opportunity to be vulnerable with Jacob after that, during one of our last Skype dates before the wedding. There was a choice between pretending my day had been fine, and being willing to just handle the day and its repercussions on my own, and protecting myself from any kind of rejection or ridicule or embarrassment (which Jacob has never done to me during our relationship), or I could be vulnerable and honest and let God protect me as I sought to glorify Him in my relationship with Jacob. Do I let Jacob in to help and love and lead me, or do I protect myself and rob him of that opportunity?
These kinds of Skype dates almost always result in my and Jacob’s relationship being stronger, and our focus on God more concentrated and united, and this night was no exception.
Right. God has placed our love story with Him in the setting of war, and marriage is not exempt from or immune to that same war. But with this, our relationship with Him is meant to be an adventure, that overarching victory in the midst of temporary losses, and that constant comfort in the midst of lies, worries, fears, and cowardice. My…what a God.
“For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?—the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” (Psalm 18:31-34)