When the Future Changes

There were two men in my life. They both wanted to officiate my wedding. They both decided – separately – that if they never met the man I married, I wasn’t allowed to get married. Or, as one of them clarified, if I did get married without them, they’d act like the marriage was a figment of my imagination until they could reinact the ceremony with their involvement. (I didn’t dare act like they weren’t serious.) 

Both Terry and Ray jokingly-but-not-so-jokingly fought each other as they planned for my future wedding together as far as who would get most of the limelight as the officiator of my wedding, who got to kiss my cheek first and who got to harass my groom the best. 

I could never decide if their surrogate- fatherly arguments warmed my heart or added to my anxiety. Usually, I just laughed instead of focusing on the confusion. I was loved, that’s what I needed to remember. I was 16 and both these men had higher dreams for my future than I did. When I nearly ruined my life with childish decisions at 19 years old, they both spent hours (and I mean hours) almost daily on the phone talking me through my decisions and asking me the hard questions no one else wanted to ask. 

Both of these men passed away within a year of each other.  It didn’t hit me until last night for some reason that neither of these men get to see my wedding. Neither of these men get to ask me the hardest questions of all: “Can you support this man when he seems unsupportable? Can you make him laugh when all you want to do is make him cry? Can you show him Christ when all you want to do is show him yourself?” 

Even at 16, they warned me about those questions. They told me what they wanted the answers to be and what they would do if my answers didn’t represent Christ. They were futuristically minded when I couldn’t be. They cared more for my future than almost any other nonrelated acquaintance ever had.

They didn’t plan on not being around to help me grow up, but they prepared me for the future just in case they weren’t.

What if we discipled like that more often? What if we strove to be involved with our mentees but prepared them to be just as godly, wise and prepared without us as they are when they are with us? What if we didn’t shield them from hard things but rather taught them that they can prepare for a storm before it comes? 

What if we discipled in such a way that those we disciple don’t pine after us after we’re gone but rather strive to immulate the Christ-like characters we focused on the most?

When The Holy Surprises

I only write about things that ultimately feel real. Which is why, until last night, I kept my engagement off any projects I was working on. It just didn’t feel real. And then, we had our first “chat.” Chats are usually amazing when done with the guy that stole my heart. But the laughter was more overwhelmed and nervous than it was giddy last night.

The questions of, “How do we manage storage? How much will that apartment cost? Can we handle living on a college campus for two more years if we’re only seminary students?” 

The big decisions, and the frustration on both of our faces, made it feel real. Every dramatically real decision discussed made the ring on my finger mean a little bit more. I laughed every time my fiancée and I answered a topic with an authoritatively affirmative, “I don’t know, Babe.” 

In our mid-twenties and trying to start off on the right foot, we are most assuredly still looking for an “adultier adult.”

As I hit the pavement yesterday to process alone, I laughed for real as I realized how much God had transformed my heart in the last two years. Two years ago, the “I don’t knows” would have scared me to death, possibly even made me angry. Now, though, I can’t help but anticipate the surprise as God weaves together a story I wasn’t looking to be a part of three years ago.

I chuckled even harder thinking about how very against surprises I’ve always been. Up until a year ago, I liked surprises as long as my twenty questions were answered when I got wind that a surprise was being planned. Now, surprises still make me nervous. I am, after all, a journalist. I was born to ask questions. But, I’ve had to learn that sometimes the surprises aren’t about me.

We often view the phrase, “Wait and see” as God’s frustrating approach to sanctifying us. And it often is. But, I have to wonder: Is it possible, that at times, God quite literally says that because He knows how to love more deeply than we do? Is it possible His command to “wait and see” is because He knows that by trusting Him and letting Him essentially surprise us , He’ll be able to show us a level of love we wouldn’t understand otherwise?

Surprises take trust, trust takes faith, which is basically the backbone of believing in Jesus Christ.