It's been a rough few days in the life of me. Learning lessons days. So when the She & Him version of "Blue Christmas" came on this morning, it’s no wonder I lost it, and started bawling my eyes out. I had just pulled it all together, and was wiping away the winding rivers of mascara coal streaking down my cheeks when the next song hit and it was Dianna Krall singing "Count Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep". Baaaaaaawwwww!!!!
Maybe if Christmas was here already I'd feel a little better. I know Christmas is a very depressing time for a lot of people, but I could never imagine being sad during the best time of the year. Goooo empathy!!! Twinkling lights in the trees, snow glistening on the ground, the smell of pine and winter berries in the air, carols humming in the background everywhere you go. All those lights. I was made to live in Christmas.
Yet, even today, in this gorgeous fall weather, with regally colored trees turning all around me, I'm trying to tell myself to buck up buttercup and smile. But you see, I'm having to be an adult, and a mature one at that. And the pangs of finally growing up, at almost 40, are more than I want to deal with some days. I'm a great big grown up womanly Peter Pan minus the elf ears and pointy shoes.
I guess you could say it started a few months ago when I made the most adult decision of my life and my fiancé and I moved in together. It was an adult decision at that time because of the feedback I received from concerned friends, regarding the religious and moral consequences of that decision. Coming to terms with what I believed and having the gumption to stand up for it was a pretty big move for me and for the first time in my life I felt like my faith was really put to the test, as were my beliefs. And though we have our critics still, I've learned to deal with it.
With that decision came the responsibility of having to actually run a household too. Within weeks I found out just what mom's and wives all around the world face on a daily basis - I was now keeping house for someone other than myself and it was a lot more work and sacrifice than I anticipated. Gone were the days of clothes everywhere (kitchen table chairs make good staging areas for morning outfits). Gone were the days of eating like a bachelorette (ice cream is a food group, and one meant specifically for breakfast and the occasional dinner). Gone were the days of doing whatever I wanted, no matter what the consequences were, because I had to think of my darling fiancé, and what was also best for him. I’ve grown up a lot in the last few months, learning to put my own bad habits aside and be the wifely woman I was meant to be. It’s not easy – I love cooking, hate cleaning, have more shoes than C’s whole family combined and am okay with dropping clothes in the middle of a hallway. He, on the other hand, is a master salad and omelet maker, but may not be the tidiest in the kitchen (see how nicely I said that?), takes three minutes tops to get ready in the mornings, and is never grumpy. Life, as they say, goes on.
As the months pass, we’re finding ways to work with each other, and to let love rule. Above all else, let love rule. I’ll say it again – LET. LOVE. RULE. And so things have gotten a little easier, and as May draws closer we’ve been having a lot of fun planning our wedding. We hit a few snags securing a venue, but last weekend we found the perfect place to get married, and signed the contract. Really, all could not be going smoother with wedding plans, and we’re both really excited to have a super fun fantastical awesomeness wedding.
Then yesterday hit – and things changed significantly for me at work. SIGNIFICANTLY. I still have a job, and I still have a job I love. I just have a job that I love that pays about 1/3 less than it did till now. And with these significant changes, so came a huge change in our new household budget. And with those changes, all of a sudden, gone are my dreams and plans for a beautiful, unique, bohemian, romantic, slightly steampunk wedding. In the commitment we’ve made to incur no debt in getting married, we’ve decided to pay for the wedding out of our own pockets with whatever we can save between now and May. Based on these recent work changes, that should come out to be about $29.
And that, my friends, is the reason I’m bawling my eyes out at Christmas songs this morning. Because I am really struggling with the feelings of materialistic want, and the subsequent feelings of guilt, that come from wanting a big, beautiful wedding. Something big, and dreamy, and completely photogenic and off-the-charts. But in the big scheme of things, something slightly unrealistic and unnecessary.
Last night, as Craig and I were just lying there, vying for the same pillow, in the quiet fall night air, he asked me about the wedding. I think we both knew the news was too new, too raw, to approach in the light of the living room, where we would be forced to talk about it and deal with it like big people do. Just like you don’t say the word cancer in a country song, my fiancé has learned me well enough to know you don’t say the words “scale back” or “elope” unless you’re in the dark, about to fall asleep with a fort wall of pillows between you.
I put on my best optimistic voice, swallowing back any tears and told him it just meant that we’d have to make some pretty big changes to what we were planning. I’d have to find another dress, and we'd have to look at another photographer, and another deejay, and other flowers, and we’d be eating Dickeys instead of a fancy caterer and what did he think of people having to stand during the ceremony instead of sitting? And there in the quiet dark, he said the words that really just cut to my heart like a knife of truth. He said it doesn’t matter to him what kind of wedding we have. He just wants to be married to me.
Sorry, I’m about to lose it again.
Here I spent the whole night lying awake, feeling sorry for myself, because I didn’t know how I, the keeper of the books, the cleaner of the kitchen, was going to make everything work out alright. And all he’s been thinking is that he loves me and wants me to be his wife. Now granted, there’s definitely a part of me that pops up and says “It’s easy to focus on love when you’re not looking at the bills piling up or trying to find a way to feed 152 guests”. But you know what? I hate that part of me. I really like the love-focused part, and that’s the part that C brings out in me. The part that remembers to let love rule. He lets love rule.
So this morning, I woke up, and hurried to make our smoothies, and I rushed out the door, and the minute I sat down at work I started to feel sorry for myself again, and worry about how I’m going to pull off this miracle wedding. Then I remembered his voice, repeating to me those words “I just want to be married to you.”
And the more I thought about it, and prayed about it, I realized, I just want to be married to him too. That’s all I want in this life, to be Mrs. J, and to be really good to him day in and day out. To bless him as much as he blesses me every day. To honor the God who created us by letting love rule and to take the love we have and share it with a world without love. And though I want a big, elaborate, beautiful wedding, I realized this morning I want it for all the wrong reasons. When I stopped to pray about why I really want an impressive, beautiful wedding, the Lord reminded me it’s not for the memories we’ll carry with us throughout the years – those are made every day as we laugh, and love and live together. It’s not for the joyous experience of that day’s celebration either – since I know that the feelings of joy I desire for us and our guests are not created by really nice centerpieces but by the feeling of love and joy in the air, love and joy that we create and radiate. I realized, for the first time since he proposed, that I want a gorgeous, creative, unique wedding not for C & I, but for the people who I can picture gossiping about it afterwards, deconstructing it piece by piece. I can see their faces in my mind even as I type this and I sort of wish I could just punch them. Stupid faces.
These are the people who, when they got engaged, went around flaunting their ring, hand extended for all to admire. The people who, at their own weddings, showed no hospitality to me, as a “welcome guest”, but who’s tight lipped smiles made me realize I was only there as a matter of etiquette, not friendship. The people who, let’s face it, I’m not really even friends with anyways. I want a dream wedding to hush those critics, and to ensure that I don’t fall prey to their overly critical comments after the fact. To be sure that they could never have one negative thing to say about how things were done at my wedding. The true irony of the matter is this though – Those people aren’t even on the guest list anyways. I’ve never imagined inviting them, preferring to give their spot to the people in my life I do care about. And whether they were there, or just stalking our pictures on Facebook, I know deep down that they will have their trite little comments no matter what I do. I’m sure my current living situation is just the “I told you so” they’ve been waiting for. I told these people “so long” a long time ago, knowing that nothing I do will ever please them. So why am I caught up in trying now?
As I stopped to pray about it this morning, the thought reoccurred to me “Things don’t matter – people do.” Let. Love. Rule. Find a way to love these people, but realize that I don’t need to stress myself out trying to impress them. Oh the pitfalls of the modern American woman. Compare, compare, compare. I need to know that the day is about love, shared between a man and a woman, and with everyone else in their life, as it is given to them by their Creator, not about table overlays and customized wedding favors and who's examining them or talking about them afterwards. How freeing this realization was. And just think, it was only a few hours ago I was repeating Philippians 4:6 & 7 to myself like a mantra, over and over again. I think it was the Thanksgiving part (in combination with another friend’s Facebook post this morning about the transforming power of gratitude) that did it. I feel like a weight has lifted, I feel so much lighter. And relieved, and at peace.
I know that we will get married. In 2013. And though I know I have my work cut out for me, with a lot of challenges ahead, like I said it’s lesson learning time, and I’m growing up. It’s only sad that it’s taken 30-some years to happen. When someone asked me recently, in light of our decision to live together, how my relationship with C makes me a better Christian, I said that I’m learning so much through it, growing so much through it, that it can’t not make me a better person and Christ follower. There’s been a lot of lesson learning days lately. There’s a lifetime full of them ahead - today was just one of them. But I get to walk on this road with a man who’s only want right now is to marry me, and who teaches me, through his own example, daily, what it means to love. He shows me God’s love every day. He lets love rule.