Thursday, February 7, 2013

The truth about being engaged

On 9 May 2011, my [then] boyfriend got down on one knee on the beach, with the Indian Ocean in the background, and asked me to marry him. I eagerly and oh-so-happily said yes! Friends were taking pictures, the sun had come out for a few moments after raining for hours, and the wind was lightly blowing…it was perfect! We quickly went home and Skyped with my parents, called his, and popped some champagne with friends. It was SO exciting; I was in total shock. My fiancé and I couldn’t stop smiling, and I couldn’t stop looking at my left hand. It really was one of the most wonderful days ever.
The next few days and couple weeks were just as blissful. We were flooded with messages on Facebook and email, and smothered with hugs from friends and family we saw over those following couple of weeks. We started to plan our wedding – just very general thoughts and ideas – which was like planning your best birthday party but 1,000 times better. I hate to use such a cliché phrase, but we really were on cloud nine.
And as those beginning weeks passed, the real planning was in full swing, and well, we were confronted with the reality of a Christian engagement – a wonderful and magical time – which no one had warned us about. I want to make sure I don’t lose the fact in this post that being engaged was definitely an incredibly special and fun time in our life that (prayerfully) we’ll only get to experience once. But there were aspects of it that totally caught me by surprise, and that I kind of wish someone had told me about.
So, that’s what I’m here to do: If you’re a Christian – a true disciple of Jesus – I want to present an honest picture of what being engaged is like. Although this was just our experience (so take it with a grain of salt), I have a feeling we’re not the only ones out there with the following experience. So, read on, or don’t; but if you ever get engaged, I hope some of these thoughts are helpful to you.
In no particular order…

1)      Being engaged is absolutely wonderful and SO exciting! Actually, it’s surreal. If you’re like me, you probably spend a lot of time in your 20/30 years of life seeing other people fall in love, be engaged, and get married – and now it’s happening to you! When?! How?! And not everyone gets that in their life. You are where you are by God’s grace and kindness.
Planning a wedding, however, can be frustrating, difficult, and/or discouraging at times. (Not all the time!) J Things go wrong, venues are mean, EVERYONE has their opinion and really wants you to use it, and most likely, you have a budget (which means your grand ideas and décor will have to be scaled down immensely…which is a definitely a bummer). One of those things, or something else, WILL happen to you. I have never heard of a wedding that didn’t have even one small hiccup. One or more of those things may have happened to us. If you really want to know, email me, and I will tell you in the form of advice for your future. J
Know that it’s coming and when it does, don’t freak out – focus on that blessing of falling in love and getting married. That’s why you’re getting married anyway: to marry an incredible man or woman. Not to plan a wedding. J

2)      If you are a disciple of Jesus, then I would expect that you are waiting until marriage to be intimate. I thought that for some reason, once we got engaged, waiting and staying pure would be easier because the end is in sight. It’s not; it’s harder. Emotions are heightened, the end in sight is exciting, and Satan wants so hard to make you mess up. His days to trap you in that area are numbered, so he is going to throw everything he’s got at you. Resist! I promise: it is UNBELIEVABLY worth it. You have one chance as a disciple, to do it right; and if you can wait, you will see that God really knows what he’s talking about. His plan is perfect. I know it’s hard, but again, try and focus on the blessings you’re receiving. Focusing on those makes it a bit easier to think, “I can wait a few more months longer” - and actually do it. (Something my fiancé and I did was make a list of 10 things we would or would not do together…ie: We would not be in a house alone, at all….and we gave the list to three married couples in our life, and decided that if we broke one of the “rules” we would confess it to all three couples. Let me tell you: the fear of confessing something to all of them was motivation enough not to do them!)

3)      (Completely person opinion here, so I think this is more of a side note: six months (or longer) is too long to be engaged. Gordon and I were engaged almost exactly six months. We wanted to get married sooner but with my family being in the US and our wedding in South Africa, we could only work around certain dates for the wedding – and I’m so grateful we did because it allowed people to be involved that would otherwise might have not been able to. But I think the reason most people choose a long engagement is because they think they need so much time to plan a wedding, when in reality, they don’t. Three or four months is plenty of time to plan a wedding, under normal circumstances. But if your engagement needs to be longer for other reasons or circumstances, just be aware that temptation gets harder, not easier.)

4)      If you are a disciple of Jesus, then I also would expect that you are getting some form of pre-marital counselling. This too is a massive blessing! (I’m not saying that because it sounds good but I actually I hated it...I actually mean it.) Yes, it was hard, but it was THE BEST thing we could do to prepare. (Even better than painting our kitchen red or me getting the walk-in closet for myself and G getting the cupboard.) How wonderful to be able to work out any issues, concerns, questions, fears, confusions about marriage before you’re actually in it!? Pre-marital counselling is a blessing, but that does not mean it is easy or comfortable. If you want to grow and become the best wife or husband you can be, God will show you plenty to work on and change. Embrace it. Gordon and I joke that we dealt with so much/got everything out (or in other words, had enough bumps) before we got married, so our first year will be perfect! Ha – we know that’s not true, but so far, so good. J

And just a few, brief wedding pointers:

5)      The details don’t matter. Really. You won’t care after you’re married if the aisle was absolutely covered in petals or not (a detail I wanted but it just didn't quite happen), or your bridesmaids dresses were the right shade of coral (I have seen this happen). Don’t freak out during the planning, and try not to stress other people out with such details; you might be a bit embarrassed afterwards.
6)      Be flexible. If there is a detail that a family member who is really close to you wants in the wedding, and it’s not something that is going to start a fire or make your hair turn blue, probably use it. The relationship is more important than the detail.
7)      Stay in your budget. You’re starting a life together and the wedding is one day; don’t put yourself in debt over one day, when the debt will follow you for a long time.
8)      Delegate/include lots of people. This takes the stress off of you and makes people feel so loved and special.
9)      Honeymoon (again personal opinion): don’t go somewhere where there is lots to do. You’ll be too tired and feel bad if you don’t have the energy to do or see all those things.  
10)   Remember that all of this is about the person you’re marrying. Stay focused on them; why you love them, why you’re grateful for them.

Being engaged is so fun and exciting, but being married is far better! I truly feel that way (even though I would love to get married all over again)!

Any other thoughts/tips/ideas for engaged couples?

Love from the Southern Hemisphere,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Talk to me. :)