What can engagement teach you about marriage and personal growth?
I remember that evening, bounding into my mom’s house late in the night.
It was a dark African night.
A few brave stars twinkled down, seemingly singing along with the sparkling new ring on my middle finger.
I had it all planned out in my head – the squeals, the thrill, the joy, the smiles and congratulations upon sharing with my family about my engagement.
Walking in the streets of Nairobi, the Kenyan capital on a breezy Christmas Eve, I had not expected my fiance to suddenly pull me into one of the classy hotels of the city.
“Oh let’s just ride up the elevators, see what’s up there!” He countered my resistance.
He knew me well – knew that I didn’t like rabbit trails. Or looking silly.
But minutes later, I was inside the hotel.
But instead of a long ride up, he took me to the pool area.
Where he proposed.
With a poem and a ring.
And an empty pool, with no lights.
The hotel had decided to clean the pool that day.
But it was perfect for me.
After the engagement
But my mother was perplexed by my ring.
“Does that mean you are married?”
My mum, in her days rings were reserved for marriage vows not engagement.
There were no squeals from my sisters either.
They looked at me, hesitant and reserved, wondering what in the world I had just done.
And I stood there waiting for someone to jump up and squeal.
In all my dreaming, I had never imagined being required to explain my engagement to my family.
And down the line I’d also remember how it never crossed my mind on that Christmas Eve, that I was announcing an engagement 10 month after loosing our dad.
And that I was the first girl in our family to walk down the aisle.
The messy part of leaving and cleaving
Now I see that evening for what it was.
The beginning of leaving.
In preparation for the journey of cleaving.
Still, being the one that was doing the leaving, I did not understand or comprehend the weight of “being left”.
I was heading out of the door and I wanted a great send off!
A few into marriage you’d think I’ve learned better.
But I haven’t.
In moments of stretch, I still expect my husband to feel my pain, bear with me and extend more grace than I am willing to give him in his time of need.
Personal growth can be messy but I still behave as if it’s only messy for me.
“Embrace the mess!”
My friend Beth Steffaniak of Messy Marriage blog says,
“It wasn’t until I realized how God was using “hardships” as refining tools in my life—making my life and marriage more about Him (Christ) and less about me and my satisfaction or image in this life—that I could embrace “messy marriage.”
More and more I am learning to embrace messy growth seasons, not as an excuse or a crutch, but as an opportunity for deeper growth.
I am learning to forgive myself when I don’t measure up. Like most people, it’s easy to forgive others but not myself.
As for my family and I, we began to learn some important lessons that day.
Like you don’t have to understand everything in order to release.
Love and trust will smoothen the bumpiest of rides.
How about you, have an engagement story to tell? : ) Any pre-wedding lessons that have carried over into marriage?
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