Like all the other stories I love to tell, this is [Part 3 of] a story of redemption, fulfilled hope, and an amazing God, who knows and hears His people.
We’ve been engaged for a month and a half now. We say I do in 5 months and 7 days (according to the Wedding Party App) or 161 days (according to The Knot app) on October 14th, 2016 at 5:30 pm. We’re neck deep into wedding planning AND future planning (aka buying a house, the bain of our existence).
We have an amazingly magical venue that my perfect soon-to-be mother-in-law found for us that looks exactly like something she found on my Pinterest that I pinned YEARS ago (free blessing). We have a DJ (free blessing). We have cakes (majorly discounted blessing). I said yes to a perfect fairytale dress (partially paid for blessing)! We have a caterer and florist (who is giving us way more for what we are paying than she probably should). A wax seal has been acquired. We have a wedding website. An adorable custom Harry Potter themed cake topper from Etsy has been ordered. We completed a marriage enrichment class. We have a photographer. We’re reading marriage books. A return address stamp for stamping invitations has been ordered. Our honeymoon travel and lodging are booked. (We’re going to New England IN THE PEAK OF AUTUMN! Flying into Providence, Rhode Island, staying in Cape Cod in Davenport, Massachusetts and visiting lots of amazing stuff like Martha’s Vineyard.We scored a major Southwest cheap flight deal and are using a family timeshare for another MAJOR discount.) Engagement pictures are happening soon. We’ll be starting more in depth marriage counseling soon. There are bridesmaids, groomsmen, a proxy, a director, ministers, and a parade of kids ready to help us celebrate our day. Showers are being planned. Tuxes are being ordered. Gifts are being purchased. Registries are being completed (Target, Belk, and JCPenney down, Bed Bath and Beyond still to be completed. Also, no one ever mentioned how EXHAUSTING registering is.). Money is being saved out the wazoo; we’re paying for everything ourselves and God is giving us supernatural abilities to save like never before and blessing us like crazy through other people. AND MORE PLANS AND THINGS AND TO DO LISTS GALORE!
It’s busy, amazing, hectic, beautiful, overwhelming, humbling, financially straining and requires major trust that the Lord will provide, warm and fuzzy, and a little stressful at times.
BUT here are the things I know:
1. I love William Allen Twiner III and am called to love him forever. When I wrote that blog post that I didn’t know was for him, I said this:
“I say a lot of things, I make a lot of lists, I think and overthink almost everything, I have a lot of ideas, but here’s what really matters more than anything else – I need you to love Jesus more than you will ever love me. God is love. And I don’t want any sort of version of love that exists without God. We need the Holy Spirit in our corner fighting our battles, keeping us holy, interceding for us, and doing the changing of our insides (hearts, brains, souls, habits, etc) – work that we can’t do ourselves. Jesus has to be the center – the everything. You can’t lead and love me like Christ loves the Church and I can’t submit to your leadership and love without Jesus. We can’t forgive 70 times seven without remembering the depths of our wretchedness that Jesus died to forgive and redeem. I am certain that it will be impossible for you to love me forever without the Holy Spirit on your team (and vice versa, we’re flawed humans!). Marriage is a picture of the Gospel, and we simply can’t do it without being wrecked every day in all of our moments by the power of the Gospel. Love Jesus and let’s always push each other to Him. ALWAYS.”
I love his beard, his smile, his squinty eyes, his face, his heart, his soul, and his laugh. I love how he loves me. I love that he believes in me and see the best in me. I love that he wants me to finish my seminary degree. I love how he loves his family. I love how he knows scripture more than I do. I love that he’s ridiculous and pretentious, but would do anything for anyone. I love that he’s a protector and a provider. I think he’s handsome and hot. I love how he loves the Church. I love that he’s a closet nerd and loves reading and knowing things. I love that he wants me to write a book AND wants us to write a book together (WHAT?! who is this man??). But more than any of that, I love that in every way possible he meets every one of the requirements I wrote about before I knew they were about him. He loves Jesus more than he loves me and he knows we can’t do this thing called marriage without the Holy Spirit.
2. I’m a bride. At the end of every day, at the end of any given moment, no matter how stressful or hard or overwhelming it has been. I AM A BRIDE. I am secure. I am loved. I am chosen. When I look back at our proposal pictures, I don’t see the things I see when I normally look at pictures of myself. I don’t see double chins, arm fat, eyes that are too squinty, teeth that aren’t white enough, or a stomach that’s too squishy. I see a girl who is beaming and knows she is loved. I see a blushing bride.
And then it hits me. EVERY. TIME… I was already a bride! YOU were/are already a bride. WE are the bride of Christ. Oh to see ourselves the way Jesus sees us. Oh to be able to go to that place, the place of knowing that no matter what, at the end of the day we are secure, loved, and chosen. Oh to radiantly beam and bask in the love of our Savior and to see that glow vs all of our flaws when we look at ourselves.
3. Marriage and the road to marriage are meant to be a picture of the Gospel! Just as William’s love and my status as his bride push me to understand God’s love deeper, so it is, or should be, with marriage. As all the decent marriage books say, the purpose of marriage isn’t to make us happy, it’s to make us holy. It is not to fulfill our happily ever after dreams. I do think I will live happily ever after with Mr. Twiner in the “in good times and in bad” sort of way. But I also know already just from being his fiance, that this road is going to continuously refine us and make us more holy.
I am NOT an expert on all things wedding or love or marriage expert (I’ve been married negative years!). But I know that this marriage, as with all of the other things God calls His children to, is meant to be used for His glory. I believe and KNOW with all of my heart and William and I are stronger together than we were apart. I believe that God is going to use us more in ministry together than he did separately (which if you know us, is saying a lot! Neither of us shied away from ministry because were single). I know that just like the Gospel, it’s going to be hard and beautiful all at the same time, but sanctifying and refining if we let it! In every way possible, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, it will be a perpetual blessing. For blessings aren’t just the good things! And our definition of good isn’t God’s. Being blessed is to be aware of God’s presence and goodness in all of it, the beautiful and hard parts.
To my married friends: don’t give up! I believe that God can and wants to use your marriage to refine you and make you holy. He wants to use it to demonstrate and declare the Gospel to the world. He can make all things new. He doesn’t waste anything. He can redeem and restore. You are blessed!
To my single friends: don’t give up! I pray for you more now than I ever have before. If you want to be married, it’s okay to want that! I think it’s okay to pray for it. I think it’s okay if for a season praying for it hurts and you can’t for a little while. Hope against hope that God will give it to you, but trust and believe that IF he doesn’t, HE IS STILL GOOD. Know that your life is abundant and useful exactly as is. But also, give people chances! Everyone deserves a first date. Don’t settle! If you are looking for the perfect person, you’re going to be looking forever. Go with your instincts, but not your fears. Risk is worth it sometimes. Sometimes it’s not though. The Holy Spirit is capable and willing of guiding you, invite Him to do so, let Him. Don’t be frivolous with your purity because you think you’ll be single forever. And if you have been, restored purity is possible. Marriage isn’t the end game. It’s a calling. And when God calls you to it and you get to fall in love with the person you’re called to forever with, IT. IS. WORTH. IT. It’s worth all the waiting. It’s worth all the heart ache. It’s worth the agony. You are whole and worthy just as you are. You are blessed!