“Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want
Than take what You give that I need
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now, I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees
And, this Salvation Army band is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep, it makes my resistance seem so thin
So, hold me, Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my Glory, won’t You be my Prince of Peace
~ Rich Mullins
In the very first moments of 2013, my life began to radically change. At the stroke of midnight, the love of my life got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was a moment that had been many years in the making. The whole day was more than I could have imagined and I was overwhelmed. This amazing man was choosing me for life, and he had put his heart and soul into making that day feel as big as our story. It was like a fairy tale and I wanted to hold onto every second.
But, a storm had been brewing in my life for the previous two years, and it threatened to sweep our happiness into its darkness. Not even eight hours into our new reality, I started receiving messages that let me know someone had betrayed my trust and taken my chance to tell my happy news. Only the people closest to me had been part of the events of our engagement, so the betrayal was shocking. I wish I’d realized, at that moment, the troubles that were ahead.
In all of the ways that mattered, it was the happiest time of my life. We set about choosing a venue, a date, and our wedding party. Trying to find the best solution while including parents, grandparents, siblings (and their families), and friends that literally spanned the country (from Seattle to Atlanta), was difficult to say the least. It was quite the balancing act, but, we managed to find something that worked for as many as possible, snatched up a nearly impossible location, and made alternate plans to celebrate with everyone else. Nick and I were on Cloud Nine.
Throughout this journey, we have made it a priority to recognize, embrace and tell the story of God’s redemptive love for us. This is a love story that was all but impossible without Heavenly assistance. We had both passed through deep and dark waters to find our way back to one another. All we want to do is speak of this amazing grace that has been given us.
There are many people who watched my journey without Nick. Most loved me really well and encouraged me in walking in God’s will, wherever that took me. Others were not as kind. Many wondered (loudly) why I was still single. Some even made direct and unkind statements about this choice of mine. Still others judged and mocked me behind my back not imagining that it would get back to me. (It did.) But, I had known the pain of disobedience, and nothing compares to that. So, I waited for the Lord’s timing, and I am so grateful that I did.
I suppose that I had imagined my detractors would have been silenced when the Lord’s plan was finally revealed. But, as I was receiving the reward for our faithfulness to what He had said, their attacks became even more vicious. It was startling, to say the least. I thought the people who had been some of the closest and longest spectators of my pain would have been the ones to rejoice the most when my dreams came true. Instead, I was greeted with silence and ignored by some, lied to by others while they gossiped behind my back, and directly attacked by a few with scathing words and threats. It was unbelievable.
I truly struggled with what to do. I wanted so desperately to rise above it, include everyone, and let the chips fall where they may. Nick stepped in to protect me, but he could only do so much. Any attempt, on our part, to reconcile the situation was greeted with disdain and derision. Every attempt was made to steal our happiness. So, a decision had to be made.
My parents had been so busy fending off the attacks for us and worrying about what would happen on our wedding day, that they were struggling to enjoy the process. When my Dad asked to take a step to protect me further, I wrestled deeply with it. Submission and surrender is sometimes very difficult for me. By God’s Grace, I’m learning that it is an extremely beautiful thing in the right context, but this is one of those on-going lessons for me. I dug my heels in, told him I wanted things my way, and refused to listen. But, after a particular conversation with my parents and Nick, my then-future husband very wisely suggested that I let my Dad have his way in this. I remember being very stubborn, much like a child, and saying, “Fine. Then, you tell him.” Again, this patient man encouraged me that it would only mean something if it came from me and I meant it.
But, I didn’t mean it.
On Easter morning, I awoke to a deep sadness in my heart. The Lord was dealing with me and my inability to submit to the wise counselors and other authorities in my life. I wanted it to be my way. I didn’t want to be “like them”. I didn’t want to give them any more ammunition in this battle. But the Lord gently reminded me:
“…you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. – I Peter 5:5-7
The Lord dealt strongly with me. He reminded me that this day was not just about me and Nick, but about Him, His glory, and those who wanted to celebrate with us. He reminded me that this was something only He could do, and He was faithful to see it through down to the very wedding day. He would not leave me alone and He would be my shield. But, I had to be obedient and lay down my wants. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
I called my Dad. I wrote a letter to the people who had been blatantly ignoring or directly attacking us. My Dad did the same. We asked for communication. We asked for reconciliation. And we asked, that should those things not be possible, that those people not attend the wedding. I was truly hopeful that they would see the pain they were causing during what was one of the happiest times of our lives, and that they would allow for reconciliation. Unfortunately, that did not happen. They could not (or did not want to) hear our hearts. They chose not to be invited to our wedding.
I was a little nervous, as the day approached, about what it would be like to have so many key people missing from this dream day. But, a few days before the wedding, the Lord gave me complete and utter peace. Our pastor defines peace as “the calm assurance that what God is doing is best.” I truly found that place of rest. And, it hasn’t left me since that day. It’s one of the greatest graces the Lord has given me in dealing with a terrible and long-standing situation.
Our wedding day was absolutely a dream come true for both of us. We were surrounded by people who love us so well and who poured themselves out to make sure the story of God’s love and redemption for us was told in a beautiful way. It was all I could have ever imagined it would be. The Lord filled in every gap and every crevice where I thought I would miss something. It was supernatural. No one stole from the joy we felt that day, though some tried. The Lord was faithful to stand before us and be our rear guard. We were blessed by all of those who came and all of those who loved us from afar. And, I didn’t have one single worry that someone was going to try to hurt my feelings, attack my family, or cause a scene. We just enjoyed the culmination of a dream the Lord gave us years ago. We drank in every moment as His promise to us was fulfilled.
If I had not been willing to lay down my desires, we would have continued to struggle. As “The Bride”, the world tells me that everything should have been my way and I should have exactly what I wanted, no matter the cost. But, we believed it was about something more. We believed “This was the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes. [It was] the day The Lord [had] made and we [would] rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:23-24) The moment I released what I wanted, everyone was able to breathe a little easier. As soon as we placed the decision of reconciliation or separation before our detractors, we were free. We were free of the burden of the unknown and the continued striving. We were willing to reconcile, even in the 11th hour, but we were no longer in fear. It taught me, once again, why we are to “[submit] to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21). Peace truly is “the calm assurance that what God is doing is best” and He has proven that time and time again.
So, whatever it is He is asking you to lay down, it’s so worth the risk. It’s sometimes the most painful thing and you can’t imagine how anything could make it right. But, trust that what He is doing is best. Lay it down. What you will gain will be far greater than you could imagine. He keeps His promises – and it’s so amazing when we can fully embrace His plan.