Perspectives on Life and Love Carnival: Doubting an Engagement

by Lesley on August 10, 2012 · 13 comments

in lessons learned,marriage

I love a good love story, don’t you? One of my new favorite bloggers, Modern Mrs. Darcy, is hosting a Perspectives on Life and Love blog carnival today. (Make sure you hop over there to check-it out!) Basically it means that bloggers all over the web are writing about their love stories. I’ve told you about how Jonathan and I fell in love, but there’s one part of the story I’ve kept to myself until today. I was writing this story before I decide to let you know I’ve been seeing a counselor, and I suppose it just kind of caps off a big week for me of barring my soul.

Jonathan and I talked at length last night about me sharing this, and I am grateful for his support in allowing me to write about vulnerable parts of myself that include him. I write for me, but I also write for you…in hopes that what God has done in my life will be an encouragement. So here it goes…

The doubting didn’t start until a few days after we arrived home from the Big Apple, where he’d swept me off my feet with an engagement under the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. My mom wanted to go look at wedding venues, and friends were already asking what type of dress I wanted to wear. Meanwhile, behind a big grin, I was panicked.

He had everything I was looking for in a mate—boyish charm, warm hands, a hard work ethic, humor, smarts, a great family, goofy dance skills. He adored me, and drew me closer to Jesus.  Our relationship had slowly moved from friendship to romance until one day on the streets of Florence I realized he was the one. The problem was, just because I knew he was THE ONE, marriage still seemed incredibly scary.

At the time, I told no one about my doubts—not even my friend Jenny who was also recently engaged or my mom, who had broken off an engagement when she was young. I felt shame and guilt for my hesitation, and I worried that if I verbalized the feelings to anyone I might be told he wasn’t right for me.

I wish I could tell you exactly how I worked through the doubt. I wish I could write about a dream, or a vision, or a bible verse, or a deep conversation with a stranger at the dentist’s office, but I can’t. All I know are these two things:

I decided to trust what God had already shown me, rather than my emotions.

I decided to trust that my emotions were less about Jonathan and more about how I process change.  

Here’s what I mean:

Jonathan and I had trusted our dating relationship to God since the moment we’d met at the prayer chapel. Since that night, God kept giving us reasons to be together. To follow an uneasy feeling of anxiety, rather than God’s consistent leading, would have been the biggest mistake I ever made.

Second, I knew that change had always been hard for me. It still is! Life changes take me a little while to get used to.  When we got engaged, Jonathan knew the proposal was going to happen long before I did. He had weeks to start picturing our life together. I needed time to process the change before I could get excited about wedding dresses and apartment hunting.

Over the last ten years or so, I’ve noticed that women are different in the way we process life changes.  We seem to fall into two camps. Some women dream of engagement rings; others think about having to share a bathroom and a bank account with someone forever. Some women think about maternity photo shoots and itsy bitsy baby shoes; other women think about lots of itsy bitsy big stretch marks and the costs of college. You see where I’m going, right? There are the idealists and the realists. The dreamers and the analyzers. The girls who throw all caution to the wind, and those who always pack two parachutes. Neither is better than the other but it’s best to know which one you are, and always work to find a little bit of the other.

I just want you to know that if you’re like me, a realist, and you’re anxious or doubtful over the next big change in your life—it’s okay!  Better to know that marriage can have some really tough moments (hello, cancer!) or that raising a baby is going to really test your ability to function on two hours of sleep rather than having a really hard reality fall when things aren’t as ideal as you once thought.

But, and here’s the big BUT… if you’re a realist you need to let yourself dream a little bit too. Dream about the look he’s going to give you when you walk down that aisle, or the doctor puts the baby in your arms, or you finally get into the doctorate program.  Take a step away from the planning, and the analyzing. Take a step towards the wonder and the beauty that comes when God brings change into your life.  Because it has been my experience that if you have been seeking God’s wisdom, and His timing, change is always a good thing.

A question for you: Do you struggle with processing big changes in your life, and if so, what are your tips for moving through the change?

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12 comments
Lesley
Lesley

Ladies, I really can't thank you enough for your sweet, vulnerable comments. I am struggling to set up threaded comments on my blog...and I wish they were working because I want to reply to each of you, separately. I promise I will get my act together so that I can start doing so. Thank you for helping me not feel so alone. I really appreciate each of you so much.

Joyce
Joyce

I found this through Mrs. Modern Darcy's carnival. Thought this was interesting. I am definitely a dreamer turned realist! A dreamer at the beginning of our marriage, and five years in, I definitely am a realist. Never thought that would happen! Great reminder to keep dreaming while remaining realistic, to keep trusting God rather than emotions...

Sarah Denley
Sarah Denley

This was a wonderful post. I'm a realist and change stresses me to the max. Even little changes do, so huge ones like this put my stomach in knots. I think it's awesome what you said about trusting what the Lord had already shown you instead of your feelings. That's good advice in so many areas!

Elizabeth Erazo
Elizabeth Erazo

I live off change! If I'm not changing, I'm depressed. Constantly reinventing, rediscovering, and analyzing (not the risks, just "how can I make this happen NOW?). My husband resists change, however, and I think we're close to reaching a good solid working balance between us. Thank you for sharing your story. It can be so difficult to open up those raw places, but it's only by opening up that you can hear the choruses of "Me too!" :)

Randi Riggs
Randi Riggs

I like your comparison of the dreamers versus the realists. I am very much a realist and have to work really hard at reminding myself to dream :) Thanks for your honesty!

Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy
Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

Lesley, I've enjoyed reading through your all's story! And I'm so glad you've shared this. You've articulated so well the inarticulate thoughts on this subject that have bobbed around in my brain for years, and I just know some one needs to read it.

Lauren
Lauren

I so appreciate this post, Lesley. I doubted my engagement, too, though in a different time sequence. I'm here again, as I'm figuring out this pregnancy thing. I am like you--the kind to think about spray attachments to the toilet that will blow poo out of a cloth diaper before I dream about how cute my baby's bum is going to be. The Lord gives us enormous gifts, and instead of processing the joy of that gift, we open the gift with a serious face and proceed to read the warrantee and the instruction manual before getting excited. So, your encouragement to dream more is timely. Thank you!

Sarah
Sarah

Every single time you write, I feel like it's my new favorite piece of your work. I'm a realist, through and through. And I get anxiety at the thought of even being a little dreamy. But as I get older and more confident in the gray ambiguity that life seems to throw at us, I'm learning I could use a dreamy moment here or there.

Michelle
Michelle

So true that the proposer has more time to think about it than the propose-ee: I knew my fiancee was going to propose, had helped him pick out the ring, gave him a pep talk over the phone before he went to ask my dad for my hand...and I still didn't see it coming! Came from the MMD link-up; thanks for sharing your story!

Bree
Bree

This was really, really good. Maybe because I felt the EXACT same way when Jarred proposed and am precisely the same kind of realist :) I've also come to a place of "healthy" with it. Ours too was one of those stories that you couldn't help but trust that God had orchestrated it and to walk away would have left me a lonely idiot. But that didn't mean it wasn't hard (and still isn't with all this newness). It was never him I questioned, never God I questioned, just the change and what I'd have to give up. But like you, I'm thankful I stayed the course and trusted. P.S. - I'd like to try to write for your "summer" business, but all this change has me preoccupied to say the least. Will see if I can sneak it in this weekend.

Christina
Christina

Not to sound like a broken record, but I think it's truly amazing what you share here on your blog. Note: I say not to sound like a broken record, because I think I start every comment by saying that, but it's true! You open yourself up to others, and I can imagine it must feel very vulnerable at times, but I guarantee there is at least one person every time who will read one of these posts and think "thank goodness someone else feels that way and I'm not alone." Life changes can be difficult, and as I was reading your post I was trying to determine where I fall on the realist and dreamer scale. Sometimes I think both. As my husband and I prepare for our first child I have allowed myself to picture an ideal birth, dream about holding my son for the first time and in my naive way thinking he will be so wonderful and perfect that I won't care that I'm sleep deprived. Those dreams are quickly shattered when I hear friends talk about how challenging having children are, how it's changed their relationships, and so on. Those are the moments when I allow myself to realize the hard truths and then I quietly panic. So perhaps, as you said, having some of both (understanding reality and allowing yourself to dream) is the right place to be. I am so grateful for my husband, family and close friends because those are the people I can be honest with, and when I'm dealing with change need to talk it all out. This post really spoke to me today, and I can't thank you enough for writing it.

Missy June
Missy June

I am a dreamer - but my, oh my! I struggle with change! I'm still learning to let go and trust that He has it under control!

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