Posted in Uncategorized

Unsolicited Thoughts on Weddings

Besides all of the other thoughts I’ve gone through since being home (see my last post), I’ve also been working through the process of finishing wedding planning. I’m getting married April 23rd, so the countdown is less than two months.

And this process has given me a lot of thoughts about weddings. Seeing as I already have this blog, and that this is also part of “my life’s biggest adventure” I will take this as an opportunity to share those feelings.

1. I cannot convince myself to care about the wedding as much as other people do. And that makes me feel somehow inadequate.

I am, by nature, not prone to perfectionism, sweating the details, or getting worked up easily. I am, by context of the last year of my life, now even less able to process or relate to other people’s questions or concerns about seasonally-appropriate color schemes. I have friends and family who are getting married months after me, but who already have personalized stamps on their invites, or who give “#120days” “#99days” updates to their followers on instagram. I am not choosing to not be one of those people, I simply can’t be.

And that makes me feel like I’m not good enough. Like I don’t love Andrew enough, like I’m not excited enough to get married because I don’t have a bedazzled phone case that says “Bride.” My lack of opinion on style of flatware, or my bridal party’s shoes is interpreted by our too-busy culture as a fault. Which table setting is more me? None of them, as I am not a table setting.

2. My lack of choices is a choice.

I did not choose my bridesmaids dresses, I gave them a color scheme. This could be easily chalked up to my aforementioned distaste for details, but its more than that. I knew my sister would not be comfortable in a dress, and would rather wear a suit. I will not make her conform to my ideas of femininity, nor will I ask her to conform to what the guys are wearing. She, and everyone else, is free to wear whatever makes her feel comfortable and beautiful/handsome/like a total fox. Some of my bridesmaids will wear made-to-order Nordstroms dresses in the perfect shade of blue. Some will wear a dress from H&M they already owned. They will both look beautiful.

I refuse to force any of these women I love into something they don’t want to wear, because I value my pictures more than their comfort. This is not about apathy, its about inclusion.

3. I did not forget to register for crystal. 

My mother’s friends have been rather dissatisfied with my registry. Its about 30 items at Target, and includes things like Jenga. It does not include the vast majority of things I was supposed to register for, like crystal, china, linens, etc. Here’s my little secret about the registry: I would rather you not buy any of it. My wedding website features 3 non-profits (including IJM, of course) that we ask our guests to consider donating to as our gift. This is not a an empty gesture. What could be a more powerful way to celebrate love then by acting in love for those who need it most? Knowing that relief will come to the oppressed, aid to the sick, support to the child, because of my wedding, seems like a beautiful way to honor the blessing God has given us in each other. It sets our precedent, that our love is not meant only to be a blessing to us, but to give us the capacity us love others, and glorify God. My mother has told me that some of her friends are just buying me things I did not register for because they think I need them, and was either too foolish, forgetful, or uninformed to know that I was supposed to register for them.

I did not forget to register for crystal. But if you buy it for me, I will return it and Andrew and I will donate the funds from your generous gift to a worthy non-profit. This is not about foolishness, its about charity. 

4. It does not have to be good enough for anyone else.

In a Pinterest-consumed wedding culture, its really easy to get wrapped up in all of the hype around every tiny aspect of your wedding. Everything has to be cute and perfect, from the monogrammed over-sized button-downs for your bridesmaids to get ready in, to your chalkboard drink menu, to your perfect first-look picture. But here’s the thing, all of those things seem simple enough when you’re pinning them one-by-one, but when it actually comes to planning, you look at that board, and realized you emotionally committed to DIY-ing like 200 different things. That’s just not going to happen.

Those weddings on pinterest had a few “pinterest worthy” moments or things, as all weddings do, and they were captured and put online. Now as a bride, you’re looking at the internet, thinking you have to have all of these things in your one wedding. You Frankenstein the best moments from 85 different weddings and then think yours can be even cuter than that monster you’ve created. Its crazy, and unrealistic, and makes everyone either lose their minds, feel inadequate, or (usually) both.

No one expects you to do all that. No one will know if you just buy your centerpieces. There will be no panel of infinity scarf-wearing judges who come and see how many of your dreams you realized. No one will criticize you for not writing your fiance a letter the night before your wedding that he can read while being photographed in black-and-white.

I suppose that’s the theme of this whole post. It doesn’t have to be good enough for anyone else. There is no correct way to celebrate love. A wedding is nothing more than a big party you get to invite anyone you want to, to mark the start of spending the rest of your life with your favorite person.

This is not about perfection, its about celebration. 

So Cheers, friends, and hope I see you there!

 

 

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Posted in Learning

Better Than Life

Because your goodness is better than life, my lips will sing your praise.

Psalm 63:6

I spent the past year living in Thailand, working for International Justice Mission, as an intern with their Child Sexual Assault and exploitation team.
My first week, I sat in my first team meeting. We discussed a referral we had received. A 12 year old girl had turned up at her parents house, pregnant, after being missing for six months. I saw my hands shake as I scribbled notes, about where she was held captive, about who could potentially be charged, over which jurisdiction we would file under. No one else in the team reacted in any visible, emotional way, this was their job. And now it was mine.

 

Because your goodness is better than life, My lips will sing your praise.

I remember when we went out to her family’s house two weeks later. I’d been in the field for 3 days – it was in a tiny village on a moutainside, the view was breathtaking. While our social workers talked to the girl and her family, our investigator and I worked in an outside kitchen on lunch; me because I didn’t speak Thai, him because he was a man. We laughed and cooked all morning, over a gas burner and four foot wok on the packed earth.
I remember watching a young man die in a motorbike accident on the way home, and our team telling me they couldn’t stop. It was too dangerous to stop here. We prayed as we drove past.

 

Because your goodness is better than life, My lips will sing your praise.

I remember the way one of our social workers held my hand as we walked into trial together. I remember the way another flipped over a stack of files on my desk because there were snacks in the lobby. I remember the way she ran her fingers through her hair and held her face in her hands, with her elbows on her desk, staring at nothing at all.

 

Because your goodness is better than life, My lips will sing your praise.

I remember us all sitting on the floor of the office, singing 90’s worship songs together, all in our own languages. The way we all prayed, every day, for miracles. For convictions, breakthroughs, for the impossible, in a way that was not ashamed of our God, of how great He was. That was unafraid of being bold in our asking, because we had no plan B. I remember the ones answered in more powerful ways than we could imagine, I remember the ones that weren’t.

 

Because your goodness is better than life, My lips will sing your praise.

I remember weekend trips to mountain ranges and caves. I remember riding elephants and learning to rock-climb. I remember making wonderful new friends who changed the way I understood kingdom work. My peers were now Nigerian church-planters, guys just out of the military documenting war crimes in Myanmar, fun wild adventurous people who had decided to follow Jesus no matter where he led them, and who were not the least bit impressed by me.
I remember going to weddings, long road trips with close friends. Laughter, closeness, the time that Ajan Winyou caught an 8ft python, and decided he wanted to show it to us, so he brought it to work, and released it in the meeting room.
I remember all of us piling into one house for big communal dinners, and how an acoustic guitar and a projector stolen from the office made for a decent karaoke set-up. I remember when our investigator would invite me over to his house to teach me to cook in exchange for babysitting his daughters.

 

Because your goodness is better than life, My lips will sing your praise.

I remember trying to convince that investigator to wear a bulletproof vest, even though I knew he wouldn’t listen to me. I checked my phone every 30 seconds, palms sweating and imagined every door shutting, engine revving, was gunshots. I remember being in my apartment, when a small child on the floor below started screaming. I stood paralyzed in panic and fear, I knew toddlers screamed all the time, his parents probably told him to stop licking the window , but I was frozen, I couldn’t breathe.
I remember hospitals and courtrooms and drama. I remember more the hours spent at clients houses, in the hot, still quiet countrysides. I remember dozens of faces of small, quiet children. Of hard teenage ones.
I remember them all. I carry them around with me everywhere I go, I know their names, and their faces, and their stories. I remember the ones we could not save. The ones who slipped through our fingers, who rejected us, who didn’t make it out of childhood.

 

Because your goodness is better than life, My lips will sing your praise.

I remember orienting the new interns, and shoveling around files with surveillance photos and medical reports. I explained documentation and current cases, methodically. I had to stop talking before I noticed the new girl’s hands shaking the way mine did once. I wanted to tell her I was sorry. But I didn’t know what I was apologizing for.
I remember when I got home and I told everyone ‘Thailand was great!’ even though my heart was breaking with an ache and anger and fear that I couldn’t name.I remember trying to write presentations about my time, choking on the truth, and settling for something shallower. I remember this past weekend, when I went to spend a weekend with other people who had worked with IJM in the field. I realized that I had to chosen to be professional, cold, and even angry, while working in the field, and since I came home, because it was easy. I realized that under that, I was sad. I am sad.
I am sad for the horrible things I have seen. I am sad for the lives of the children I have met. I am sad for the friends I left behind. I am sad that the world is a dark and broken place. I am sad that God has not fixed it when he easily could have. I am sad that, sometimes, in this world, evil wins. I am sad that no matter how many children we helped, there were always more. And I will no longer apologize for, hide, or qualify that sadness.
Because it is only in brokenness is there redemption. Only in confession is there forgiveness. Only in death is there resurrection.

 

Because your goodness is better than life, My lips will sing your praise.

My lips will sing praise. For I believe that God is good, and sovereign. I believe that Jesus is much more broken over the world than I could ever be, and there is a time for mourning, and weeping. I believe that joy will come at dawn, but that means there’s got to be night first. Jesus’s promise to return and make all things new and whole and as they should be means a lot more when you realize how much things are not as they should be.
Faith is being sure of what is hoped for and certain of what we cannot see. God has never been closer to me. I know Him more intimately now than I could have ever imagined. I do not understand God, but I will worship him.

 

Because your goodness is better than life, My lips will sing your praise.