This past weekend, I had the privilege of standing beside one of my very best friends as she said the two powerful and pivotal words, "I do."
Ever since her engagement last December, I've imagined this day. And so much of it turned out precisely as I thought it would. Her looking positively radiant in her gorgeous white dress, the epic reunion that would unfold between college friends who haven't seen each other in years, and the amount of fun that would be had as we danced the night away.
It was a wonderful, wonderful wedding day. And I couldn't be happier for my two friends.
But here's what didn't pan out the way I expected it would.
I thought there'd be a pretty, shiny ring on that bare left hand. I thought there'd be another wedding in the books for these final few months of 2015, mine.
And at this point in the post, I'm sure there are many minds wondering why I'd confess such a personal detail of my relationship and life on the internet.
So here's why:
I want to write about this now. I want to write about this before that pretty, shiny ring takes up permanent residence on that left hand. I want to write about this before there's any wedding in the books for me. I want to write in the midst of waiting to proclaim that in a waiting season, there is absolutely hope for contentment before the happy ending.
PJ and I have talked about marriage since legitimately the night we met. Call us crazy, call us unconventional, but it's just how things worked for us. So everything I write in this post has already been processed between us. Together.
There are so many details about this time in our lives that I would love to document one day. All of the details that led to my expectations, and all of the things that I have yet to know about that brought us to where we are today. It's all such a beautiful story, and I don't believe any of it was a mistake or a coincidence.
I don't regret the amount that PJ and I have talked about marriage. I don't regret the dreams that we discussed together, the conversations that created this timeline in my mind. I don't for one second wish that things went the way I thought they would.
Let me say that one more time, even if it's just for myself.
I don't, for even one second, wish that things went the way I thought they would.
I have learned more in these past 4 months about patience and contentment than I have in my entire life. If PJ and I had gotten engaged when I thought we would, I would have missed this. I would have missed these precious things that God has been teaching me through this process.
My relationship is stronger because of this. Our communication is stronger because of this. My trust in PJ is stronger because of this.
When my plan was torn up, I started to trust.
Because when a very plan-oriented person is left without a plan, that's all she can do.
I started to trust PJ when he lovingly told me to be patient.
I started to trust him when he assured me that he is seeking God in every detail of our relationship.
And on an even bigger and more important scale, I started to trust God.
I remembered that this life isn't about my plan, it's all about His. And His plan is a good one, even and especially when it doesn't look like mine.
I've come to look at contentment as not something to strive for, but instead, something to praise God for.
Through the rough points in this waiting process, I would get so frustrated with myself. Here I was, with a boyfriend far beyond what I could ever ask or hope for, and I found myself battling discontent because I was aching for him to be more than my boyfriend.
I would get loving, good advice from others to seek contentment, and to be thankful.
And I was, I was and still am so thankful. Even through this process, I have never once stopped considering my relationship a pure gift from God Himself.
Yet my heart still had (and has) moments of aching for more, aching for the future.
So now, I have a different approach. Now, I consider contentment a gift. And therefore, whenever I find myself feeling truly and blissfully content (and it's often these days!), I stop and praise God.
I thank Him, knowing that it is nothing I can muster up on my own.
And when I don't feel it? When I'm stuck mourning my expectations, when I'm stuck wishing away my present for my future, I press in. I don't shame myself for it anymore, I simply let the tears fall. I blast the worship music. I let myself feel.
I remind myself that it will pass, and that it's okay. It's okay to mourn expectations that don't pan out, it's healthy to grieve and feel and cry.
Waiting is a part of this life, because whether we recognize it or not, we are all waiting for a perfect world where every fiber of our being is satisfied in the God who created us. Where there are no more expectations to wait on, because every expectation is met by our being in the presence of our loving Creator.
So in this life, we will wait. We will have expectations that don't pan out, and we will find ourselves battling discontentment.
But guess what else?
In this life, we can find true joy. And in this life, we can find genuine contentment.
And today's post is all about the fact that contentment does not hinge on circumstance. I am not engaged yet, and yet I spent this past Saturday praising God for that very fact.
Here I was, in a situation that could have very well sent me into a crying spiral over the fact that my plan didn't work out as I thought it would, and instead I was praising God for that very fact. Instead, I was thanking God that my plan did not work out. Because for that reason, I have learned valuable lessons that I will take with me for the rest of my life.
When our plans don't work out, we see more of His. And we remember that every. single. detail of our lives give glory to Him. Even our disappointments can be used to praise Him.
So friend, if you are in the midst of a waiting season, I hope to encourage you that contentment is in the hand of your Father, not your circumstance. And perhaps your situation is more painful than mine, and if so, I truly wish I could listen to you and hug you and wait with you.
But I truly believe that that statement still holds true. So I pray that today, you can rest in that.
Love you, friends. Thank you for venturing through this life with me, the ups and the downs and the things in between. I'm thankful that they all have purpose, and they all bring God glory.