This month we reach the half-way point in our engagement, just over six months gone and just over six months left to go. No, we wouldn’t have chosen to wait over a year to get married. Our original date was 11 months exactly, and even that was long, but it was either two-three months to plan a wedding from over the ocean, move across the world, and say goodbye to my home of the last seven years, or wait.
The past six months have been hard. In some ways, it’s been easier than our courtship. Far fewer sleepless nights and heart-wrestling, though they haven’t been without them. The first three months were somewhat shaky as some previously quieted fears were reawakened with much more intensity.
But everything has either highlighted or further taught us that we are only a shadow.
Our waiting and longing is a shadow of the church waiting for Christ’s return.
Our desires are only shadows of what our desires for Him should be.
Our love, though it will last as long as we both shall live, is only an instant in eternity.
Our marriage will one day pass away, and though we pray for many years, it could be only a short time of marriage, or none at all.
All of that is hard to swallow. It’s hard to remember that as much as we miss each other and as much as we love each other, Christ must have first place. It’s hard to remember when you’re so full of joy that there is greater joy than this and so we can’t cling too tightly to what’s earthly.
Shadows are greatest when you know how great the thing that causes the shadow is. But we are content with mud pies when there is a feast if we think the shadow is better than the reality. At first learning that tastes bitter, but it becomes sweeter and freeing when you’re not clinging to something that will pass away.
The balance between permanent and passing is a very strange one, but it’s one that must be found.
In the months where I was learning to remind myself to have it – or to learn even that it needed to be there, or what it looked like when I didn’t have it – there was a lot of fear. It’s so easy to fall into idolizing marriage to another person without even realizing it, and then you become fearful and clingy. And more tearful when reading stories of people who have suffered loss in their marriage, whether through death, injury, or anything else. Those stories are more beautiful to me now because I have a small understanding of what it might feel like, and with that the amount of strength and reliance on God a couple needs to get through it.
We also are growing in knowing what we can and can’t (or should and shouldn’t) say sometimes, things that either aren’t good to share now or even between married couples. A lot of that is more how to say it than whether you say it or not.
And we’re learning to be content in the waiting – finding the balance between a rightful longing for being married but also not being complacent in things now. Part of that is pacing ourselves in areas like physical contact – weighing if “more” is worth it – thinking about while we want to do more than hold hands, we also know that then other things will be harder – so we have to consider if it’s worth it.
We’ve enjoyed seeing each other twice since the trip when we got engaged – once I visited him in the states, and then I also got to see him nearby. I am so thankful for a father who is a pilot and we can fly for very little and at a moments’ notice!
But the upside to having a long engagement is that I have a long time to say goodbye to Dubai. It’s bittersweet, to think about leaving home, and to know so many things are “lasts.” I want to savor each moment, and yet I want it to go by so fast at the same time.
Sometimes I feel a bit like this, as in “I can’t wait to be married to Ezra! … I’m going to hate being away from Dubai… Wedding planning is great! … we should just elope…”
I also often think or sing this song to myself.
And the most frequently asked question is…
How’s wedding planning?
We’ve checked off lots of boxes: booked venues and photographer, figured out flowers, decorations, and cake, designed invitations and favors, the registry is done (lesson learned: do your research all the way before you start putting stuff on so you don’t have to change it or transfer things to a different registry), we know what everyone’s wearing, know how we’re working out complexities in getting our marriage license (we had to get the paperwork filled out and notarized in April!)… some moments it feels like there’s not much left to do, other moments the amount left feels overwhelming. People have been so kind, generous, and helpful. A friend has helped us make our designs look more professional, the venues and photographer have been willing to work with a crazy schedule, my grandmother found us our cake baker after the first one was only gluten-free (but a fabulous gluten-free baker!), and the woman doing our flowers really knows her stuff and is great to work with, and I love that we get to support a local small business in my grandma’s church, not to mention that I love her farm.
What’s been frustrating is trying to find things that don’t exist (modest, sage green bridesmaid dresses under $50?) or trying to decide on things I don’t really have an opinion on (centerpieces! So thankful for my mother and grandmother who were creative enough to figure that out).
Logistics have sometimes been insane from overseas, but the internet is a wonderful tool and the venues and vendors have been flexible with forms of contact, contracts, and all sorts of other things.
Most of the time I still love to talk about wedding plans (what’s public – there are a few things I want to keep as surprises!), although I don’t like it if that’s all I talk about with a person. With a year to plan the wedding, the rest of my life has also kept on going, and I’m more than just a bride.