The wife I'm not.

"I just thought I would be in such a different place [spiritually, physically, emotionally, maturity-wise, career-wise] when I finally got married... but I'm not." A friend of mine said these words to me about a month ago. She's getting married this week, and I admire so much of who she is, where she stands in life, and how she lives her life. Beauty is in her and flows out of her. She is a life-giving woman, and I think her soon-to-be husband and those that know her best would agree. And yet her own expectations of who she would be on her wedding day were much higher than where she thinks she is. So long ago she had an expectation of who she would be the day she got married, and the person she IS today, is not the person she wanted to be standing at the altar.

I get this. Because the exact sentence she confessed to me, I confessed to my wonderfully patient mother a few months before I got married. I wasn't crying to her, I was yelling to her through sobs at how disappointed I was in myself and how much I hated me. I sat crumpled in a chair. It wasn't that I felt unright about my marriage... I couldn't believe Brett, such a loyal and understanding man, would WANT to marry an immature failure of a girl like me, because that's who I believed I was.

Of all the failures I was tempted with pre-marriage, I had believed that I was a spiritual failure the most. The other day my best friend told me how consistently she and her sweet boyfriend have been reading the Word and spending time with Jesus. How good it is for their relationships when they are consistent. And how good that will be for their marriage some day. I rejoice with her that they are having a season of such sweet fellowship. And am reminded that I have had such sweet moments as well--- and that sometimes a sweet season can change to a difficult one.

During my engagement and even some into my marriage, I was more inconsistent in the Word or even in acknowledging God, than Harry Potter would be with Katniss' bow and arrow. I was tempted to believe I would fail Brett and God as a wife. How could I serve Brett if I wasn't even serving God? (Which is a truth-filled question that Satan answered with lies.) I was scraping at everything I could get my hands on to fill me, but nothing would work. Ann Voskamp, in 1,000 Gifts, writes that when we say "NO" to God to fill us, we are asking Him not to be present in our lives. "No, God. No God." I felt like I was doing just that and hated myself for it but was too deep in to ask God for help.

Someone told me while I was engaged that if a woman doesn't have a consistent fellowship with God every day during her engagement, then she won't have a consistent fellowship with God during her marriage. And to me, that communicated I would NEVER be able to achieve a relationship with God that was full or beautiful IN marriage since I had so miserably failed OUTSIDE of marriage. It communicated that I would definitely never be what I expected I'd be as a wife: Super-woman-God-lover-never-fail-my-husband-pray-him-through-the-day-be-a-perfect-sinner-every-husband-is-jealous-i'm-such-a-perfect-wife.

But I'm writing right now to say that God is good, forgiving, and draws us to Him with grace abounding. And though my fellowship with Him was not what I wanted it to be BEFORE marriage, He has been more than willing to help me take steps to being where HE desires for it to be IN marriage. It's not even about where I wanted to be. It's where HE wants me.

When we stop gripping our hands on lies of failure or [insert identity struggle here], He opens our hands only to place truth into them. It's not about consistently acknowledging and meeting God every day as someone else's fiance, but consistently acknowleding and meeting with God as someone who is loved by Him and loves to spend time with him.

Expectations exceeded.

Stacie Stine

Design Jamboree, Denton, Texas, United States