Four Years of Marriage | Remembering When Jesus Changed Everything
Paul and I wrote this soon after our wedding in 2017. On our Four-Year Anniversary, it’s amazing to look back and see what God did and how much joy being obedient to Him brings.
My (Maddie) writing is in standard print, Paul’s is in italics.
Jesus calls us to come as we are but not to stay as we are.
At the end of the summer of 2016, Paul and I both had our “come-to-Jesus” moment. We realized that if we were claiming to be Christians, we needed to be living as Christians. At the time, we definitely weren’t.
Together, we decided to make some major lifestyle changes that the Lord had put on our hearts. Primarily, we wanted to be obedient to His Word, but we also wanted the foundation of our marriage to be established on the solid ground that comes by following Jesus and not following our own worldly desires (Matthew 7:24-27).
We had originally planned our wedding for September 2nd, 2017. If I’m being honest, the wedding we had planned for that day was what I would call my ‘dream wedding’. Fall weather, a beautiful outdoor ceremony with the most dreamy barn for the reception that could fit everyone we could have possibly wanted to invite. It was the Saturday of a three-day weekend which meant a whole extra day to spend with our family and friends.
That ‘dream wedding’ is not the one we ended up having, though. And that’s more than ok. When Jesus enters your heart and the Spirit works on your soul, plans change — and I couldn’t be more grateful.
It was early Fall, 2016. Maddie and I had been engaged for nearly a year and our wedding was just 11 months away. We had a great little apartment together with our dog Nike and, for the most part, life was good.
Several months earlier, we had started going to a local church, Lifepoint Church, and attending a weekly study group called Lifegroup (basically a time to connect with others and read the bible together). Our Lifegroup knew our situation–engaged and living together– but they loved us just the same.
I remember Maddie and I driving home from group and the car ride was weirdly silent. One of those moments where you have something to say, but you’re scared of what saying it would do. But, God is good, and He helped one of us open our mouths…
“We need to change our current living situation (i.e., stop living together and everything that comes along with that).” -one of us said.
Shockingly, the other felt the same way. We decided to stop living together and a couple of weeks later we decided to move our wedding up…by a lot.
I remember feeling a tremendous amount of relief, fear, and gratitude. We had an overwhelming feeling of peace and at the same time an overwhelming sense of nervousness as we thought through the life-changing implications.
I had several big concerns. I hated the idea of not living with Paul because our schedules were so crazy and night time was the only time we saw each other. I also knew that this change would be financially very difficult. With the change, we went from having 11 months to pay for a wedding to 7 weeks. I hated the fact that I knew people would think the change was because I was pregnant — which was a valid thought and not out of the realm of possibility. It also meant I was kissing my “dream wedding” goodbye.
But, the hardest part was the fear that came with the thought of telling my friends and family. I was so afraid to tell them because this was a HUGE change for us and the result of a total shift in our identity as Christians. We were shifting from being just fans of Christ to making a conscious effort to have a relationship with Him and to follow Him.
We had to wrestle with not only a shift in our own identities, but perhaps even more challenging, wrestle with the identities we assumed other people expected us to keep living out. I was worried that my friends wouldn’t want to be friends with this new me, or that they would think I was constantly judging them, or that they would think I was a total hypocrite.
BUT, with all of those feelings, I also felt peace. I was no longer having the internal battle of wanting to follow Jesus, but knowing the decisions I was making every day were taking me in the opposite direction. That peace outweighed all of the fears, stress, and anxiety that came along with our decision.
So, instead of our September 2nd, 2017 dream wedding, we moved the date to January 7th, 2017. Like Maddie said, it was terrifying. But, I believe when we are obedient to the calling of the Lord, he provides.
Maddie immediately began re-planning the wedding (fortunately for us, January is not a popular wedding month.). We found an awesome venue that gave us a crazy good discount and they conveniently provided catering. Our photographer, who is booked solid for the wedding season, had the new date available, and we managed to find an awesome DJ.
I’m also fortunate enough to have a VERY handy family. My mom designed invites and programs AND she baked our cakes with the help of my grandma. My Aunt Paula helped ice them. My Aunt Mary did all of our flower arrangements and she helped personalize my wedding dress a bit along with many other things. Paul’s grandma made him his favorite cake to enjoy at the wedding. My uncle and our good friend, Kale, married us. Somehow, everything fell into place.
When the big day came, our guest list was 100 people fewer, it was 7 degrees and snowy, and we were both exhausted from all of the preparation. But honestly, it didn’t matter. We were so overjoyed to FINALLY be married.
I couldn’t have dreamed up a better wedding. Marriage took on a whole new meaning to us. It was so much more than the venue, the food, and the weather. We were choosing to not only spend the rest of our lives together but to love each other as Jesus loves us. To put each other’s needs before our own. To show each other grace every single day because we are flawed and we will mess up and we will hurt each other. To love each other even when we are acting completely unlovable. And to pursue a life where we are always on mission, together.
Yep, what Maddie said.
I’ll be honest, when September 2nd, 2017 rolled around, I found myself wondering what our wedding would have been like had we stuck with the original plan. And when I think about that I laugh because, on September 2nd, God blessed us with the greatest gift EVER. Like, way better than a dream wedding.
I woke up really early that morning with this sense that I needed to take a pregnancy test. Low and behold, it was positive! Instead of a ‘dream wedding,’ we got our little Theo instead.
Being obedient to what the Lord is asking is SO hard sometimes, but it is so worth it because His plans are much greater than ours. God certainly didn’t have to bless us with Theo out of our obedience. But, given the timing of finding out, it seemed like that’s exactly what he was doing.
I think obedience is particularly challenging in today’s world. We live under a constant barrage of how we should live and how we, as humans, should be the ultimate authority in our own lives. I’m not saying Maddie and I are perfect, if anything as people trying to know and love Jesus, we realize we are far from it. But I do find confidence and peace in the verse written at the top of this post [Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” ] our prayer is that you would find the same peace and confidence found in Jesus.
Maddie & Paul
Details (for anyone who wants to know!)
Location: High Line Car House
Catering: Two Caterers (High Line Car House is their venue!)
Photographer: Ashely West Photography (she’s AMAZING.)
Everything else was by us and our family!