Today marks three months until the day I wake up, put on an ethereal floor-length white gown, and look in the mirror to see a bride. Three months until I will become one with a man that God spent 27 years preparing for me. Which is pretty awe-inspiring when you take into account that I've only been alive for 18 years. But that's what is so marvelous about God's sovereignty. I didn't have to be born yet for God to already be preparing my groom for me! Everything He does is absolute with its own level of certainty and unique purpose.
When I become Mrs. Ruby I will be about 2 weeks away from my nineteenth birthday. When I turn twenty-one I will have been a wife for 2 years already. I vividly remember when I was younger hearing my Mam-maw (my maternal grandmother) tell me about how she fell in love with a man in his twenties at the age of 14 and how she was blown away to find he returned her feelings! They corresponded romantically through letters the whole year that she was 15 while he lived in the state of Washington and she was over 2,000 miles away in Texas. That Christmas break, when she was not even three months past her 16th birthday, he came back to her little town and asked her to marry him. By New Years Eve they were headed back to Washington in his new car as husband and wife! That timeline always blew my mind...not only was it SO.FAST., all I could think of was how young she was! Wasn't she afraid? Did she wonder if he was the right one? She didn't even have enough time in her life to know! She was a baby! Howww??!! She would always just smile with a look of love that spoke far louder than words. Though his death cut their marriage short after just 28 years, you can still feel the love she had (has) for him after 30 years later. There is no doubt that, were he still here, I would have grandparents that had been happily married and head over heels in love for almost 60 years. If she ever did answer my questions with words it was always something quite simple and straight forward; somewhere along the lines, "We had love and we figured out the rest. The Lord took care of us. "
And now, here I am. Engaged before I'm twenty to a man several years older than me. And all at once those same questions are being fired all around but now they're pointed in my direction. I suddenly understand why her answers were so simple! Because it is that simple. Here...let me break it down so you can see what I mean.
I am by no means advising everyone run out when they're 16 and start actively looking and expecting a man to sweep them off their feet and propose to them. Please don't think that! I know how discouraging singleness can be without those kinds of expectations so I don't want to plummet anyone any farther down! I've been right where you are, wondering, "WHEN WHEN WHEEEEN WILL MY PRINCE CHARMING COME?!" at the age of 16. Most people would've laughed but it was a real pain and I don't ever want to discount anyone who is dealing with that same pain. But I would advice that you take that pain before the Lord. Because, I will assure you, all the protection, love, affirmation, companionship, and completion you're yearning for really can't be fulfilled fully by another person...only Jesus Christ. But! In the same breath I want those that turn their noses up or drop their jaws when someone like me is excited about getting married early to hear me out because this is the true bone I'm trying to pick. The question of, "But what about your life? You haven't even gotten to live your life yet and now you're going to be tied down to a husband!" My number one response? Yuck. That really does make my stomach turn. What life? College? Sexual Baggage? Drunken parties? Heart Ache? Confusion? Loneliness? What life am I losing by becoming one with a man that the Lord placed directly in my life...a process that brings me to tears because it bears the fingerprints of God all over it. Every bit of life that both of us have lived apart was fashioned to fit us together in the perfect time.
People will tell me that I haven't loved Trevor long enough to know for sure that I want to love him forever. That's an interesting concept to me. Hey, I'm all for really discerning the Lord's will in a relationship and not jumping into something that is not glorifying to Him. That's why I would stress having other older married couples and your pastors involved in discussions and over-seeing what the Lord is (or is not) doing in the lives of two people who have feelings for one another. But when the Lord is clearly knitting two people together and they both clearly desire marriage and see that that is what appears to be God's intention for their relationship (and this feeling is increasingly felt by those around them) you really think staying in that state of limbo is the wisest decision?
Okay. So let's say we waited. Put a five year minimum on our "dating status" before taking the step towards engagement. Because being passionately in love with someone that you desire to be married to but continuing in a state of casual dating is the smartest option...(I apologize for my sarcasm...this subject really gets to me.) Can I turn to Scripture for a moment? 1 Corinthians 7:9 "It is better to marry than to burn with lust (or passion.)" I know that verse has, no doubt, been countless times wickedly used out of context to justify couples in foolish, rebellious, "against wise council" relationships. But let me apply this to my situation personally and honestly. I am thankful for boundaries, and Godly council, and the inward working of the Spirit, and the Lord who chastises those whom He loves and hedges them about with protection because I will tell you plain and simple...as joyous, and celebratory, and exciting, and lovely as engagement is...it is a battle. We are two fallen sinners, redeemed by the blood of our Savior, living in a corrupt world that blurs all the lines of right and wrong, purity and deceit, wholeness and emptiness. The world says its "okay" and "loving" to give yourselves to one another before or without marriage altogether. But the Word of God tells me and Trevor as redeemed individuals that to do so would grieve our Father. The flesh works against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh and it. is. hard. Even knowing how close 3 months is, I can see how some trip and fall and do not finish the race. I am deeply sorry for those couples because I know that when they seek too soon to fulfill what they believe to be beautiful desires, they are disappointed to find themselves feeling very ugly on the other side of things. Couples truly do burn with lust. Scripture wouldn't have said it if it weren't true. The word burn indicates a fire. Thinking about that this week the Lord laid upon my heart the verse in Lamentations that says, "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed." Which then made me think of the verse that says, "Our God is a consuming fire." SO! Tying together all of our context clues...Lust burns like a fire. God is also a burning, consuming fire. What keeps us from succumbing and being consumed by the fire of lust? It can surely be only one thing, the Lord's mercies! If left to our own selves without the Lord's mercies, those fiery passions could easily engulf any couple...including Trevor and I. So thankful to not be alone!! So thankful to have Trevor just as dedicated to saving ourselves for marriage as me! So thankful that when we do struggle together we run to prayer together! It is an invaluable fountain of grace that we find there at the throne and those mercies, that are new every morning, truly do keep us from being consumed. To those in the Lord who do wait years and years loving one another deeply before getting married, I'm sure you can echo my thankfulness and attribute your triumphs to His protection and I commend you for your strength...I can't imagine but I praise God for you.
Another aspect of these questions that hurts me right to my core...that marriage is less than other exciting parts of life that I could experience. That traveling to Europe, living on my own, going to college, dating lots of other people to get my "feel" of the male-kind before settling down and marrying would make my life that much more complete. Having been with Trevor for the last year, I couldn't imagine anything being more of an adventure than loving him has been! And I trust when I turn twenty-one and my teen years are behind me and I will have settled into newly wed life I prayerfully will not think that anything could be more wonderful than having him come home to me everyday...being my provider, protector, my lover, my other half, and my best friend. Proverbs tells us "He who finds a wife finds a good thing." My prayer is that Trevor may be able to say that all the days we are married just as he says it now while we are engaged. :) Marriage, when orchestrated by, entrusted to, and focused on the Lord I believe will be far more satisfying to me than whatever life others think I'll be missing. Others' stories will not have a spouse written into the plot and that's okay. The Lord writes a different story for everyone. For some He withholds until later in life. For some, He gives other things besides married love. I am personally grateful that my story includes a man for me but I do not feel like it is the perfect dream for everyone.
"For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving."
- 1 Timothy 4:4
Yes. There is a plethora of things that "normal" teenagers experience that I won't. But such is life. Every story is different. Let's not hate on each other's pages. Let's praise the Author for His wisdom and creativity in giving everyone their own chapters. I am thrilled to be counting down to my wedding day at the same time as others my age are counting down to other exciting parts of their life such as getting into their dream college, flying to New Zealand, shooting their first wedding (shout-out to all my photogs!)....whatever you're looking forward to, I rejoice with you if you are receiving it with thanksgiving to God! I won't have worn several fancy prom dresses when I slip my wedding dress on...it will be the only gown I will have ever worn up to that point. And I'm giddy that that will be so. And I do hope to travel one day...and what fun it will be to have such a gift at my side to adventure with! I do not feel robbed of a life that I didn't get to have. I feel humbled to have a life that I don't deserve.