I picked out china last week. That’s when it hit me.
I’m an engaged woman.
It’s funny how you don’t realize the actual truth of things until you experience them yourself. You can observe, you can ponder, you can formulate thoughts from afar, but you don’t know truth in its entirety until it is actually you that walk in it.
That being said, I’ve gotten a lot of questions since my fiancé popped the question. They’ve ranged from, “When’s the wedding?” to “Holy crap, what’s up with everyone getting married at the same time?” This last one is my personal favorite, because it lends itself to the answer, “Well, we had an executive board meeting and decided to monopolize everyone’s summer as best we could; we don’t actually love our future mates, we just thought we’d take over your weekends.”
But the question that hit me the hardest, the one that broke through my wisecracking exterior was, “So what’s engaged life like?”
Now, admittedly, at first I cracked some line about how it was like skipping to the head of line at Disney World and how my professors gave me all A’s, I didn’t have to do laundry anymore, and I woke up with perfect hair everyday.
After I walked away, I took a second and reevaluated my answer. What did I think engaged life was going to be like? Furthermore, what did I think married life was going to be like? And where did those ideas come from?
I spent the rest of my day weighing my childish expectations with my present reality. My entire childhood was spent being inundated with Southern ideas of marriage that began practically as soon as I hit kindergarten. Some female relative would tease me, tousle
my hair and ask, “So, Jenny, do you have a little boyfriend?” This question, by the way, still gets asked and is not any less embarrassing when you’re 21 than when you’re 6.
So, okay, the necessity of a male presence in my life has basically been at the forefront of my life. But as what? As a complimentary piece or the whole of my identity?
I had no clue until I got engaged how messed up my views on it were. I’m not saying this to promote getting engaged so that you can figure this out for yourself, I’m just pointing out how slow I am to catch on to things and how much I still have to learn about myself.
For most of my life, I railed against the idea of the opposite sex as a solution, boys as the better part of life, men as means to happiness. The truth—if I want to admit it to myself—is that I had somehow expected them to still be able to fix me in a covert way that wouldn’t reveal my self-confidence issues. In realizing this, I also realized I’d put pressure on the importance of engagement. I’d somehow figured it would solve things, make life better, make me whole. To admit that to myself was hard enough; to realize that neither an engagement nor a fiancé is the answer is an even more liberating realization.
I’d somehow figured an engagement would solve something—what exactly it was going to solve, I’m not sure. This preconceived idea could probably be traced to my assumptions of engaged life from afar—you know, the slight jealous twinge that rears its ugly head when someone gets engaged and you subconsciously figure he or she just acquired a perfect life.
My life is not, in fact, easier; my weeks are still insane, I still run around like a chicken with my head cut off, I’m still grumpy first thing in the morning, and I still drink coconut lattes.
The stripped down, mostly hidden truth is that my life is more difficult now. I’m balancing learning how to love my fiancé better every day with wedding planning, a full course load, graduation, moving, a job and, well, life.
The earlier assumption I made that got me to this point was not based on up-close observation and experience, but on envious speculation and childish thoughts. By realizing this, I’ve had to unearth the root of this lie I managed to tell myself all these years: I keep seeking affirmation and answers in creatures just as broken as myself.
When I expect completion, I cannot get it; we were never made to complete each other to the core. When I expect a complimentary piece, however, I do get it; we were designed to compliment each other in a way that reflects the full and complete picture of God. To do this, however, means seeking God for the completion and our loved ones for the tangible companionship.
This steady balancing act of completion and companionship proves to be an every day challenge; however, every day that I wake up and look to God for answers is a day that I adjust that part of me that sought completion in someone else. It’s a day that I find relief in knowing that my fiancé doesn’t have all the answers and neither do I. It’s a day that actually means living life the way it was meant to be lived: Loving people for who they are, not who we need them to be for us.