If you’re reading this, it can only mean one thing. The unthinkable has happened.
I am engaged.
You might be thinking, “Unthinkable? Really, Adam? That’s a tad dramatic, even for you.” Perhaps so, but for me, this is a dream come true, a prayer answered, a wish fulfilled. It was an open secret that I longed for this, for the chance to build a life with someone. It’s also an open secret that I barked up a few rough trees on the way.
But those experiences had to occur, even if I still chafe at the delay. I remember years and years of waiting, hoping, wishing that this day could come. I remember holidays spent without someone to share a memory with, summer nights alone in my room. I was never whole, never complete, and incredibly aware of that. Not a day went by that I didn’t grapple with my singleness.
And so even now, I accept that I needed to grow more as a man to even resemble a suitable partner for Shelby, but jeez, I would have given it a shot at 25. We could have tried, right? What’s the harm?
Well, here’s the harm: God doesn’t swing and miss. God didn’t mess up by having our paths cross in the late spring of 2017. Not at all. It shouldn’t have been a moment sooner or later. God didn’t run late, he was precisely on time. And Shelby was as well. She arrived in my life at precisely the right time, just as the Lord intended.
I was blessed to know early on in our relationship that she was worth fighting for. Right as we were “officially” together, I told a dear friend that she was already worth all those longing days, and she was. Even more so now. I could tell by fall that she was becoming a fundamental part of me, and it was both deeply emotional and reassuring. I had found my partner, my rib.
I was finally becoming whole.
That didn’t slow down, either. I knew then that I was going to marry her, and I told her so, flat out. She was comforted by it. We are both plagued by insecurity. An early staple of our time together was a paranoia about what the other one really thought. She would worry if I really liked her. I would worry if she could or would make time for me.
Meanwhile, in reality, we were already crazy about each other, a fact not lost on our friends (or mothers, for that matter). Immediately we both began to change, because again, God doesn’t miss. Once He planted this new seed, it started to grow. He took care to provide it what was needed — a dose of kindness here, a helping of patience there, some encouragement too.
And boy did we need it, too. Our story isn’t one without turmoil. I didn’t realize how easily I can start to pout, but boy do I know now. In some ways, I’ve always been a little boy who’s just a tiny bit annoyed he didn’t get what he wanted. Shelby is accommodating but firm, and in the end she doesn’t necessarily put up with my crap. More than anything, though, she is gracious, and I try to be gracious back to her.
You wake up one day only concerned about yourself. Maybe you plan on some disc golf, time at the gym, some PS4 time and a few beers. Easy bachelor stuff. Six months later, your heart beats purely out of concern for someone else. You work to make sure you’ve made a good impression on her family, try to remember some cute date ideas you had years back, etc. Easy boyfriend stuff.
It’s both exciting and daunting to realize the changes have only just begun. What will our life look like in 15 or 20 years? Will there be kids? (Will those kids have cool names? You damn well better believe it.) Will I still be in IT and her in supply chain? Where will we live? There are so many questions, so many uncertainties, but I’m grateful that God has placed another certainty into the equation. I know I have Him, and I know I have her.
We’ve both remarked how those two things — Christ, and each other — have made what once was unthinkable suddenly approachable. Maybe we will be parents. Maybe we will chase after a writing career for me or a full-time teaching job for her. Nothing feels quite out of reach anymore.
I want also to take a moment and say something to my younger self, perhaps the Adam of two summers ago. I want him to know a couple things.
I am blessed beyond measure to know and love Shelby, but I would be lying if I said my life is some utopia. A fairy tale it isn’t — there are new hills to climb virtually everyday. And these hills force you to learn new skills and accept new realities in at times excruciating ways. Life doesn’t relent, and when you begin to stretch and adapt into a serious relationships, you start to feel that in new ways. Life doesn’t now just pose unrelenting challenges to you, but also to someone you hold dear.
You will learn — because you must — how to overlook constant annoyances, because life is full of those. That’s neither your fault nor hers, nor will those annoyances always even be created by either of you. It’s reality, and reality extends beyond your relationship. Work will be frustrating. Families will be frustrating. Finances and fitness and churches and on and on and on, neverending. And then you get to the tumults that occur between two human beings in a relationship.
It isn’t always fun. A lot of it is really hard. Remember that. Don’t put the idea of being a boyfriend or husband on a pedestal. You aren’t up to it aside from the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Remember that too.