It finally happened. By “it” I mean very thing all of my grandparents, aunts, and uncles have been hounding me about for the last few years: I made the commitment to love one woman for the rest of my life and put a ring on her finger. As I write this I am thrilled that Jesus gave me my sweetheart, Inna, (you can read a little about her at her blog here.) I had a formal engagement dinner at which our combined family and pastors were witnesses of my love and pledge. My fiancée and I were also brought up on stage the next day in front of five hundred people. And to top the cake we also became “Facebook official” which finally culminated in our exposure to just about everyone in the world. Now that Thursday has hit us and we are back in the daily grind it seems like not too much has changed, but as I look past the speedy weekend I find I am different. Wiser. Older. So let me share the top things Jesus is teaching me in this period of my life:
1. Life passes quickly
We have all heard the phrase that “life is short” yet it’s hard to understand this when you have your “whole life ahead of you.” I am still very young but I am transitioning from a life of singleness to that of a husband. I’m done with childhood, being a teenager, and single young guy. The only three steps left to go are father, grandfather, and then dead guy. Life is short; I don’t want to waste it seeking only my pleasure and selfish ambitions. I don’t want to waste it trying to accomplish everything and not have time to relax and live peacefully.
2. God is really gracious.. and really sovereign
Looking over the last quarter of a century and reflected on the many times Inna and I were physically threatened and I am shocked that we are both alive. When she was a young teen she was in the front passenger seat of car in which the driver was fatally injured, she walked out without a scratch. I had a heart problem that mysteriously disappeared during my latter childhood. Stories like these fill my memory. Besides the obvious near misses is the simple fact that we are both sinners, deserving death, and yet we are alive. We have had opportunities for our lives to be extinguished every single day, and not one of them materialized. God is gracious and in His sovereignty He led us together, keeping us safe along the way. How can I or you not trust Him?
3. News travels very fast
It was a big secret that I proposed to Inna. At first we told our parents, siblings, and just a few friends. Just a little bit later, before the official engagement dinner (and the Facebook official status) I ran into to someone I didn’t even know and she said “Hey I hear you are engaged with Inna.” How did they find out? Another person, whom I also barely knew, told them. I’m not even going to try to trace this stuff back. News travels really fast. Welcome to the 21st century, there are no more secrets.
4. Not everyone will always remain your friend
When you are just a kid you often pledge to be “best friends forever.” I have had many best friends, and I still love them dearly but we are not as close as we were at some point, and we will never be closer than me and my future wife. Even as I got engaged a few of my single friends seemingly put a red “X” over my name and said a slow obituary as if sensing that my days of being a “wingman” in their relentless search for the perfect wife are over. Truth be told, you can’t please everyone or make everyone your best friend, but Jesus will always remain.
5. There are amazing people in your life
While you may lose friends in your life, some friends are as close as a brother and changes in your life will show you who they are. I found that some friends are nothing short of a blessing. My family is also amazing. I haven’t been as close as I would like to with my extended family. Yet for this day everyone put aside their plans and came to support me. As with all families, there are always differences of opinio, but you know what? It doesn’t matter. We are family and our bond in not in our sameness but our grandfather/family lineage. That’s the whole point of family, to serve as a model for a church in which we share a bond not because we are all photocopies of each other but because we share the same Father.
6. We are obsessed with the start, and neglect finishing well.
Wedding planning is hard. Enough said. There are so many expectations to meet that it’s a wonder there are couples who brave the onslaught and actually get married. People have told me that it’s our first day and so we ought to go the extra mile (or thousand dollars) to make our wedding day truly special. It struck me that in our culture there is an overzealous emphasis on creating a grandiose display that celebrates the start of something. Whether it be a church launch, the founding of an organization, or the beginning of a marriage, we want the big bang in the beginning. The bible tells us to focus not on starting well, but finishing well. Whether it’s your church, family, or business don’t follow culture and carelessly plunge into…. If you really want to show off in marriage, don’t spend $20K on the best decorations, spend your life showing people true love, respect, and humility in your marriage.