Valentine's Day came and went. This year we opted to order food from On the Border, eat at home, and watch Couple's Retreat. For years, I imagined Valentine's Day as one-half of a couple to be a romantic, albeit over-the-top endeavor. I dreamt of gorgeous bouquets, fancy dinners, new clothes, and diamond or pearl jewelry presents. And to be honest, a nice, relaxing night at home is much more appealing.
This year was only our third Valentine's Day together. Our first was a mere two months after we first began dating, and our second was a mere 5 months after we married (and 1 day after our belated honeymoon to Costa Rica). The first Valentine's Day we saw Definitely Maybe, and the second Valentine's Day we saw He's Just Not That Into You.
Our lives are, in many ways, like Valentine's Day in that we are quite predictable. On Monday nights, we watch Big Bang Theory, One Tree Hill, 24, and sometimes Life Unexpected (if Big Bang Theory is not new). On Tuesday nights, we attend a C-Group through Frontline Church. On Wednesday nights, we catch up on shows saved to the DVR and sometimes watch Life Unexpected (if Big Bang Theory was new). Thursday nights bring Grey's Anatomy. Friday nights we often go out. (When I say "we", it is often just I who watches the more girly television shows; he puts up with them.) Saturday and Sunday are relaxing, uneventful, and filled with cleaning and laundry. Every other weekend, I am alone during the day while my husband works. Our dogs entertain themselves outside on the weekends and come inside only to sleep and recharge.
I never thought I wanted a predictable life. I assumed I would be on the go, hardly home, and working long hours. I used to be like that, as a social worker and also as a college student, and a life of unpredictability and long hours is exhausting. I'd much rather be at home, talking about what to make for dinner and yelling at the dogs, than running around and living off of diet coke.
Lately, I've been thinking about all the twists and turns life has taken me on. Nothing about my life is the way I planned or expected for it to be. While I am a planner at heart, I'm thankful for all the changes and thankful that life didn't turn out the way I intended; God knew much, much better than I.
If things had gone as planned, I would be living in New York City (or somewhere equally ambitious) and spending every night out. I would work as an editor or have a novel on the best seller's list. I would be forever single, going out with someone different whenever given the chance. I would shop as much as I could. I would be doing several other things that now no longer appeal to me.
How do these changes occur? How does life suddenly become nothing like we expected? And how do we accept those changes?
It's take me months (and to be honest I am still working on it) to accept the changes in my life. My marriage was easier to accept because I married my best friend, a man who is opposite from me in every way imaginable but also compliments me in every way imaginable. My changing jobs was easy to accept as well. The good things have been easy to accept; it's been the difficult and not so good things I struggle with.
But it is also the difficult and not so good things that have (and will continue to) defined me as a person as well as defined my faith. It's in times of difficulty that we walk in faith, that we say several prayers and step out onto a branch and sometimes into nothing, trusting that we will be held up and not fall. Sometimes we do fall, and then it is time to pick ourselves up, treat our wounds, and continue on.
The past several months have been ones of falling and picking ourselves up. We have struggled financially, but God has always been sovereign and provided for us. We are still struggling financially but trusting God to bring us through. We have waited and prayed for a new full-time job for my husband. We continue to wait and pray for a new full-time job for my husband. Currently, we are praying for one particular job, and we will know, by the end of the week, if our prayers have been answered or if there is more praying to be done.
Prayer is tricky because God will always answer; the answers just are not the ones we want. So often, if the answer is not the wanted one, it is assumed God did not follow through. I've thought that way. I struggle not to feel that way now. But I know He answers every prayer, every single one; often we just don't listen to His answers. I am guilty of that as well.
Through these struggles, I've learned how to walk in faith. I am still learning, but I am getting closer to understanding the process. For that, I am thankful.
So much of my life is like Valentine's Day. Simple is always better. My previous beliefs no longer apply, and the reality is so much better than the fantasy.
Thank God for His plans winning out over mine.
(title from "beautiful disaster" by jon mclaughlin)