I remember writing in my blessing book a few years before meeting Ben that it had finally occurred to me that getting married would mean becoming part of a new family and leaving mine behind. I was probably going to have to change, because I noticed that's what happened when people got married: they changed. I was scared about it. For some reason, I'd always assumed my future husband and I would carry on exactly as my family did with no breaks in thought or action.
Back at that time in my life - late teens to early twenties - I also had an extremely harsh view of other people and tended to categorize them more as a series of identifying boxes than as living, breathing people. If you had suggested to 20-year-old-Me that I would marry a man who had been a Christian less than three years, had grown up in the public school system and graduated from college, was attending a Pentecostal church faithfully every Sunday and who got excited about reading non-canonical books like Jasher and Enoch, I would've told you in no uncertain language that you were talking to the wrong girl. If you threw in that I'd agree to marriage after spending plenty of time alone with him and without either father's in-depth involvement or prior consent (oops...), I would've been even more shocked.
Back then, I was going to have a strict courtship overseen by my father, I was not even going to hold hands with my betrothed, who would be a good homeschooled boy hopefully working with his father and ready to move into his own house that he'd been diligently saving for since he was fourteen, and we were both definitely going to be 25 or younger.
(These were not my parents' ideas, by the way - I picked them up by reading all kinds of stuff that seemed wise and prudent to me. I've since observed that my way of thinking at the time really didn't take people themselves into account.)
In spite of all my careful imaginings, I really only made one request of God when it came to the nature and person of my possible husband: I asked for him not to be what I dubbed "a Loopholer". I wanted a man who wanted what was good with his whole heart and wasn't looking for loopholes to get out of doing what God considered good.
But I did just sort of assume my Mr. No-Loopholer would fit the picture I'd made of him, homeschooled and all.
Meeting Ben scared me to death.
Not because Ben is a frightening individual (unless you've lost to him for the twenty-five-thousandth time at chess). Because I knew from our five hundred pages of emails he sure seemed a lot like the man I'd asked for but not the one I'd imagined. In many ways, he was nothing at all like what I'd imagined. And I knew if I married him, things were going to Change. Yes, that's with a capital C.
For the first couple months we went out, I think I had a knot in my stomach the whole time. I was afraid. I was very afraid. Afraid of making such a big decision and what could happen if I chose poorly. Afraid of how the details were going to work out. Afraid that Ben didn't make enough money to support a family. Afraid of how much it was going to hurt if we decided NOT to get married. Afraid of things Ben thought were important that were uncomfortable and strange to me. I had never pictured fear as such a big part of the deciding-to-get-married process.
One of the things I kept asking God over and over was for him to make his plans overwhelmingly obvious to me, to make marriage to Ben impossible if it wasn't a good idea. For most of my life, I would say that I have prayed and God answered through circumstances. But one day, I think he actually answered me in words. I was only half awake, but I was lying in bed looking out the window and thinking about the day and I said some small prayer about how I didn't know what to think when it came to all the things about Ben that weren't what I'd pictured. And a small voice in the back of my mind said, "I've given you exactly what you hoped for. Stop being so scared!"
It was then that I think I finally started seeing that Ben really was a pretty wonderful man without part of me hanging back and objecting. That even though his life was something I'd never imagined, it was something I was ready to be a part of. It was going to be different than what I'd grown up with, different from what anyone else I knew lived, but it was going to be good. Because Ben loved good. And he didn't look for ways to excuse himself from doing what was good.
Being married has changed me. But they've been good changes because they were all done for the sake of good. It's taken time for some things to feel normal and not uncomfortably strange, but there was one thing I forgot when I was worried about having to change: that it wasn't something I was going to do alone. It's not a matter of Ben being an inflexible standard I have to conform to. We are looking for what is good together and we are changing together. That makes the path out into the unknown a lot less scary than I thought it was going to be.
And that would've been a very encouraging thought for 20-year-old-Me.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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