I never really thought of myself as an independent person.
I’ve always been fairly introverted, yes, and have learned [aka been forced] to step out on my own quite a few times, but I never really knew how much I craved independence and freedom.
Until I got married.
When Matthew proposed to me in January of 2017 it was all excitement and fun and dress shopping and wedding planning. [okay, actually all of that wasn’t that fun. My go-with-the-flow nature didn’t exactly love the planning-a-wedding season].
But nonetheless, August 12th came and it was a beautiful day. Matthew and I covenanted to love and care for each other for better or worse in front of our friends and family. We honeymooned in Colorado and returned home to Birmingham a week later.
Then it really hit me.
One night, no more than two weeks after our wedding, I found myself lying in bed silently weeping and shaking with fear.
I was terrified.
To explain, I think some backstory is necessary.
I moved around a lot growing up. The military life took my family to multiple countries and states, inevitably cultivating in me an appreciation and love for different cultures and people. I absolutely love to travel, to see new places, and to meet people around the world.
I moved 9 or 10 times before going to college. After graduation from college I went to Uganda, moved three times before starting seminary, considered moving overseas again, and then moved to Birmingham, all in the span of 2 years.
My upbringing and life circumstances have shaped me to love the freedom of moving and exploring new places on my own.
In some ways though, my transient upbringing shaped me to dislike [and sometimes to fear] the stability and consistency of commitment.
Hence, why I was lying in bed a week after my wedding, terrified at the fact that I had committed myself to staying with one person for the rest of my life
I wasn’t feeling the lovey-dovey feelings that I thought I should be feeling a week into marriage.
Instead I felt stuck. I felt tied down. I felt guilty. I felt claustrophobic.
What if an opportunity to move or travel came up and I wanted to go? Now I had this other person who I was tied to. There were more things to consider.
The life I saw in front of me, to be honest, seemed limited and constraining.
Needless to say, those first few weeks of marriage brought up a whole lot of sin that I hadn’t realized was in my heart. I realized more and more how my natural heart state is not love. It’s not dying to myself and serving someone else and laying down my life plan and desires for his.
Instead, the feelings that surfaced were selfishness, bitterness, and frustration when I felt like I was having to give up my freedom and my dreams.
But thankfully. The Lord used the staying and the commitment as a tool of sanctification in my life.
God reminded me that love is the desire to give more for someone else, something that my heart does not naturally do.
One of my favorite writers puts it this way:
“Staying requires a different set of muscles entirely. Staying is hard, especially for people like us who naturally perk up around new scenery… God goes with us, too, but I’m realizing that there’s something particularly beautiful about seeing him in the staying.” – Caroline Saunders
I craved newness and change and felt that anything less would be boring and ordinary. I craved a life that was big and vibrant and exciting.
And I don’t necessarily think that the desire for big and vibrant and exciting is bad.
In fact, as humans created in the image of God, we have a desire for big and vibrant and exciting running through our very bones.
“Thanks to the Bible, we know the cosmic source of such longings. Genesis 1:27 tells us we were created “in the image of God.” Every person who has ever existed, therefore, is undeniably bound up with something big, dangerous, and extraordinary: God himself.” – Zach Bradley
But I’m realizing more and more that the smallest things are sometimes the biggest. The most mundane things are sometimes the most vibrant. And the most ordinary things are sometimes the most exciting.
So I’m praying for the strength to rest in the slow and ordinary. To praise God for the sanctification and the stretching. To trust him enough to let go of my need for freedom and independence and to depend fully on him.
He is good. He’s got us.