More to the Story: The Truth About Being Engaged

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Since this is my first post since being engaged, you probably thought I was going to talk about how the proposal went down.

I don’t want to use the word agonized, because that sounds slightly terrible, but I have more or less agonized over just how to write about this incredible, transformative season of my life.

The agony, I think, comes from a desire to tell the full story without quite knowing how to do that. I feel slightly caught between a desire to celebrate the deep, soul-changing love I have for this season and this man, and at the same time acknowledge the real fears and grief that unexpectedly followed. I want to tell it all, but I want to do it justice.

I also have waffled between exploding with joy all over these posts because, frankly, I’m a little protective of it.

As someone who tries to write vulnerably, I have hesitated to write about my engagement because I have put intense pressure on myself to share everything, including the lovely, intimate details.

But this is such a precious season of my life, one that can really only be understood by my fireman and me. I find myself wanting to hold it in my cupped hands like a sacred gift, so taken am I with the detailed beauty of this time.

I find in a world of online oversharing I scramble to be queen, and right now I think it’s okay to maintain the preciousness between just him and me.

The other reason I have struggled to know how to write about being engaged is that being engaged has not always been blissful.

This is difficult for me to say, because as a soon-to-be-bride I am expected to be immersed in the happiest time of my life.

There is intense pressure on brides to get engaged and never look back, so confident are they in their decision to marry.

And as soon as you voice that anything about this season has felt weird, or scary, or uncomfortable, people start making assumptions about the rightness of your relationship.

My relationship with my fireman is absolutely amazing. It’s good, stable, healthy, and just plain really fun. We are two imperfect people who love each other and happen to have enough good qualities (and a relationship with God) that we can have an awesome, imperfect relationship. And I do not say that lightly.

For me, engagement has been a mix of deep, abiding joy and, at times, a scary feeling of stomach-churning fear.

When people talk about engagement, they don’t talk about the fact that your identity, the one that has never been married and has no clue how to do so, still clings to you.

It’s the part of you that suddenly realizes your relationship with your parents, who were formerly your primary relationship, may now look different (and this grieves you).

It’s the part of you which feels sadness and uncertainty at leaving your single life behind, the one you have lived into and claimed proudly for yourself, the one that actually feels pretty comfortable most of the time.

They don’t talk about the fear of not being able to put aside your own selfish desires, whatever those are, for the sake of your spouse.

This has been the truth of my engagement.

But the most valuable, world-changing thing we have to offer is the truth of our experiences, no matter what they are.

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The epic fireman himself, about an hour before he asked me to marry him (and before we almost died on a mountain in Idaho).

If I was to only talk about the joys of my engagement and hide the hardships for fear of judgement, I would be doing a disservice to myself and anyone who may need to hear the whole story.

Particularly with relationships, there’s a pressure to quickly follow any story of the bad with an assurance of the good; we must now prove just how in love we are, how right we feel about it, how enviable our relationship is.

But our unpretty truths are just as valuable as the pretty ones.

And in relationship, it’s often the unpretty truths that give that much more weight, meaning, and validation to the pretty ones.

Being engaged is incredible, life-giving, and so good. And if I want to be able to fully embrace its beauty, I have to be willing to acknowledge there is more to our story.

The presence of fear and grief does not cancel out the truth of the awesome things; awesome things, whether it’s a job, road trip, project, or relationship, still carry their own set of uncomfortable (and sometimes heart-wrenching) moments.

If we want to lead transparent lives, if we want to give hope to lasting relationships and marriage, and if we want to offer glory to all God can create into brand new, never-could-I-have-imagined-this-changing things, we have embrace the “more” of our stories.

Maybe the “more” in your relationship is the threat of pornography.

Maybe it’s having to overcome your own desire for control and self-importance.

Maybe you were in a long-distance relationship, and there were some scary moments of uncertainty with that.

Maybe you broke up and got back together.

Maybe there was a time in your marriage where you seriously considered divorce.

Whatever your “more” is, I encourage you to not hide it in shame.

The “more” stands as a reminder that you chose to overcome the realities of our own imperfections and real life in order to have the amazing relationship you desire. We have to choose beauty and goodness over what may be difficult, because there will always be more to the story.

Our “more” is something we should celebrate knowing we have been able (as a couple, as an individual) to live into the awesomeness over all the other stuff.

Embrace the truth of your “more” in that it has not defeated you, but instead created deeper roots.

If you’re in a relationship or married, post a picture of your person to Instagram or Facebook. Tell us why they’re awesome, and tag #moretothestory! And tag me too (@hellosoulblog/@HelloSoul) – I want to see your stories! 

8 replies »

  1. Dear Julia, beloved child of my heart, you have found your words. You have written beautifully and eloquently about your sacred story. You moved me to tears as I read. Thank you.

  2. The fear of the commitment to marriage is important and true. You don’t have to prove your decision to get married or the health of your relationship to anyone. People will always judge you, but like you said, only you and your fireman truly know. More importantly, just because you are married doesn’t mean you have to lose yourself as an individual.

  3. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this! I am recently engaged and that first week after the proposal was actually one of the hardest weeks of my relationship so far. I was overwhelmed by so much fear and doubt and felt like I was truly grasping for the first time the importance and magnitude of deciding to enter into marriage. There was joy of course, but also a lot of guilt for not being awash with the glow of being newly engaged. For me it has been such an amazing opportunity to reflect on how we are Christ’s Bride, and that He chose us selflessly without fear. Thank you again for sharing, your vulnerability is so needed and so appreciated!

    • Thank you for sharing this with me! It’s so deeply comforting to know we are actually surrounded by people who have lived through similar things! I love that you took that time to return to the truth of God’s relationship with us – SO crucial to remember, especially during this time! 🙂

  4. Hey this was so good. The ways you wrote of transparency and honesty have given me confidence and assurance that it’s okay to feel those things. In all honesty my boyfriend and I are quite serious and if I ever had thoughts similar to the ones you explain here I would shove them deep into my heart hoping they wouldn’t come out again because after all I love him and our relationship. But your boldness to post has given me a breath of fresh air to know I can feel both and that’s okay. Thanks for this!

    • I’m so glad to hear that! I think our culture doesn’t tell us that we can feel both – love and fear. That if there’s a presence of fear, it’s not really love. But that’s just not the case. Love doesn’t exist in a bubble – it’s still real life! Thanks for sharing, and I’m glad you feel encouraged!

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