Being engaged is really, really hard. No one ever tells you that, or at least they never told me. At the end of a particularly rough day last week, Tim looked at me and said, “Now I know how people break up before the wedding. This is hard.”
I can’t wait to marry Tim, and I also can’t imagine being engaged for longer than six months, because this part of the relationship has been really difficult. And when I talk to others, they tell me that we are not abnormal in our struggles. I mean, let’s just look at this from a strictly formulaic perspective:
Take two people with completely different personalities, backgrounds, families, stories, and opinions + event planning + arguably the biggest decision of your life + family dynamics + money + personal expectations + exhaustion + individual opinions + limited seating + social expectations + cultural norms + religious norms + emotions = pretty much the worst formula ever for relational intimacy and vulnerability.
In other words, wedding planning is RIDICULOUS. Even when you consider that Tim and I see eye-to-eye on most things, our parents love us and are “for” us, and we have already expressed an unwavering commitment to each other, it is still a really difficult season of life.
The closer we get to this wedding, the more I realize that “I do” doesn’t start after the wedding ceremony. It starts the moment that you commit your future to the person standing (or kneeling) in front from you. When Tim proposed, I made a promise. Sure, I could still break that promise, but the “I will” means just as much to as the “I do”.
I have never felt more insecure, more loved, more challenged, more terrified, or more sure as I have since I said, “I will.” The best and the worst of both of us have come to the surface since Tim proposed and I accepted. I am starting to question if I will be able to keep my independence, if I will ever make a decision by myself again, and if I will really have to attend every Star Wars film premier as long as I am alive (Answers: Yes, not necessarily, EMPHATIC yes.)
Here is an example of where this has been such a gift: Last week, when I was leaving the jail, I wanted to pull into the nearby motel and confront management about repeated reports of sex trafficking happening under their own roof. As I drove closer and closer to the motel, I started thinking about how my decisions now affects someone other than myself. If I were to roll up into that motel all Rambo-style, I would not only be putting myself at risk, by my fiancé as well. What if I were to be attacked? How would that affect Tim? Was there a way to have an impact on the situation without putting my life in danger? In this situation, I was very thankful to recognize that my personal decisions affect someone else’s life because it stopped me from doing something really irresponsible.
Here is an example of where this has not felt like such a gift: While Tim and I have not “officially” combined our finances yet, we generally contribute to things together and are looking towards the future with our money. Last week, I really wanted to order some books online. I have wanted to read these books for a long time, but purchasing them would mean not having money for something Tim and I had planned for this week. Tim works really hard for his paycheck, and so do I. And we have also agreed to go ahead and prayerfully treat our money as OUR money, not as any one person’s in order to prepare for the future. So I had a choice: buy the books (nothing wrong with books), or not buy the books and stick to the plan we had made. I passed on the books, but I pouted to myself. I am going to miss doing what I want, when I want to do it. And I still could – Tim doesn’t have me on a leash – but I know I am not loving him well if I make decisions based solely on what I want.
When I said, “I will”, I was saying that to the fun things as well as the difficult things. I was saying that to the painful conversations, the awesome hugs, the sacrifices, and the gifts. As we get closer to our wedding (62 days to be exact), I am realizing more and more that I signed up for something incredible sacred and beautiful and difficult.
I am just thankful that I got to say “I will” to such an amazing human.