Previously published on 8/12/2013

“Conviction without experience makes for harshness” – Flannery O’Connor

I am a person of strong conviction. I have a very strong sense of what I believe is right or wrong and I try to live my life by those standards. It is often frustrating to me when others don’t seem to have those same clear boundaries for themselves. I know that not everyone thinks like me (shocking, I know!), but it’s part of the journey of life to learn how to operate in a world with so many variables. It’s definitely challenging at times.

Over the years, I’ve learned to allow others to speak into my life and inform some of my choices. It’s not good to live in a vacuum and there is much wisdom to be gained by listening to the people around me. I’ve chosen to surround myself with, and seek wisdom from, people I admire and who are a little farther down the road than me. I work very hard to learn from the experiences of others in order to avoid pain in my own life. But, sometimes, experience really is the best teacher; the only way to really learn something.

As I prepared to write this, I spent a little time searching for a quote on experience that would sum up what I’m trying to share. I think the above quote by Flannery O’Connor really hit the nail on the head. “Conviction without experience makes for harshness”. Through the journey of preparing for our wedding, I learned this lesson again.

Prior to becoming a bride, I had a strong conviction about what it should look like as I walked this journey. In our culture, there is a rising sense of entitlement that comes with being a bride. Many women take the opportunity to have an event or day that’s entirely focused on them. In recent years, the term “Bridezilla” has emerged to describe what happens when a bride stomps on the feelings and expectations of those who love her in search of that perfect day. It’s easy, from the outside, to judge these brides harshly. Without having walked that road, it’s hard to understand how quickly that transformation can take place.

While I will still stand by my conviction that a bride should be gracious and make the day about more than herself, (and, I hope I accomplished that in my journey) I have a new appreciation and compassion for how these “monsters” are created. I can’t count the number of times someone said to me, “It’s your wedding, do it your way…don’t worry about anyone else”. I was continually told that my opinion and vision was all that mattered. It’s very easy to let yourself believe that. It’s inviting to think that it’s really true. I chose to fight against that tendency and to remember that my relationships needed to be protected so that they remained the day following our wedding. I wasn’t always able to accommodate everyone, and there were moments of frustration at times, but my groom and I chose to continually point to the Lord and tell people, “This is the Lord’s doing…we will rejoice and be glad”. But, standing on the other side of this journey, I truly have more compassion for the women who get caught up in the excitement, drama and promise of a day entirely their own.

What are you judging harshly that you haven’t actually experienced? Can you try to put yourself in that situation? I know I am working to remember that I may not know the factors at play and that it feels very different when you’re actually standing in those shoes.

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