Engagement is hard.
Yes, it’s exciting, but it’s also hard. Frustrating to keep disappointment at bay when dates aren’t lining up. Difficult to avoid the comparison game with other peoples’ wedding plans. Hard to be patient when the love of your life doesn’t understand you absolutely need to invite all 200 of your closest friends.
But even harder when a pandemic hits and you’re left with no plan at all.
God had gifted us with the next season of our relationship and we couldn’t wait to step into it. I wanted a beautiful day because it was easier for me to see God’s hand in beautiful things. In our excitement to be married, we’d planned it all out within two months. And we had done just that —crafted a beautiful day—and I would not budge, even when the pandemic swept through our marriage preparation classes. I held onto the hope that everything would go back to normal as we sent cancellations out to all of our guests. It was a surreal feeling telling people that yes, we were still getting married, but no, they couldn’t come to witness it.
After all, what was the point of this big day if my community wasn’t there to celebrate with me in person? Take photos and upload it to Instagram? A little part of me had been preparing and planning for my wedding my entire life. And it wasn’t fair that I had to change it. I wanted to be surrounded by all our family and friends as newlyweds and I needed to share my joy with them and bask in their congratulations. And if I was really honest, I felt that my wedding was going to be less beautiful, less exciting and less joyful without it. Was I wrong to feel cheated out of my wedding day? Why wasn’t I getting what I thought I deserved?
I didn’t know it then but I was longing for others to validate my wedding day. Their absence would mean I had failed. I yearned for their approval and affirmation and in the process, grown proud and boastful in the planning.
I was preparing for my wedding, not my marriage. Somewhere along the way, I’d lost focus on our marriage plans and zoomed in on the wedding plans only. It was okay to delight in the details but I was past that, mulling over every little thing and getting so worked up over pieces no one would notice but me. I was lost in the desires of my human heart and missing out on the bigger and more beautiful things God was doing in my life—He was re-aligning the desires of my heart to His.
This shift in perspective helped us ask the hard questions when re-planning our wedding and keep us from seeing the end goal when the decisions got even harder. What adjustments would honour our family stuck across borders and at home best? How did we keep our list of people to a 50-person limit? How could we put the Sacrament back in the spotlight on our wedding day?
In some ways, we have planned two weddings. As the pieces of this new plan come together, I’ve seen some beautiful things I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. How humility is slowly developed over many occasions of asking for help–especially when I’d rather do it on my own. It was a gift to receive Christ’s love through my family and closest friends again and again as they willingly went out of their way to help. How freeing it is to be vulnerable and share my fears, insecurities, doubts to both my spouse-to-be and God.
And in it all, our mindset has shifted from our plans for our wedding to God’s plans for our marriage.
It’s been a surprisingly incredible gift to be rid of the pressure of the “perfect” wedding. Sometimes in life, we hold so tightly to the things we think will make us happy. We get mad when God seems to take them away. But He never fails to show me that He has something far more stunning, rich, and fulfilling than I could have ever planned myself.
Our journey to the altar has been unexpected but a great lesson in faithfully entrusting our hopes, our desires, our lives to God again and again. Trusting God with our plans, handing control back to God didn’t make our plans any less grand, instead, He’s stretched and expanded them to be something even greater.
“If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great.” - Pope Benedict