The moment I removed my ring

To say the past week has been challenging, is an understatement. Its been rough. Hell, its felt like a hurricane of emotions and struggles. But the worst has past and we’ve caught our breath.

As I mentioned in my previous post, our wedding planning has had a few potholes and despite it being a very Holy Spirit inspired and co-ordinated event, we have had to face just a little human interference… and although I sought to respect and honour and make amendments where I could, eventually it became too much and I began to realise how ‘not well’ I was coping.  Every time I drove my car on a route out of my normal routine, I began experiencing mini panic attacks.  They weren’t major and I brushed it off and carried on. On Thursday, things happened that caused me to have a somewhat more noticeable (and public) attack in the staffroom at work. I finally took notice and realised we needed to address the issues. On seeing Garth later that day, I had another attack in front of him and it opened the door for a necessary conversation… and if I ever doubted how perfectly God times things – we had our final Q&A session of marriage prep sprung upon us for that evening. I arrived raw and a little apprehensive.

We won’t lie, the evening was tough and we’re both really grateful that we’ve had these honest conversations between ourselves, before having to address the issues with Chris and Louise. I think Garth took the worst of it, and was given some pretty direct instructions of things he needed to do – for the sake of our relationship.

By Saturday, I was beginning to struggle again.  He had not appeared to have done any of the things Chris had suggested and his silence on the matter was suffocating. Saturday afternoon we addressed the issue and it was tough; he was unhappy and I was anxious. I went to lie down and have only experienced that kind of crying once or twice in my life before – when the tears come from your spirit and no longer just an emotional reaction. I broke. And he watched me. It was painful to say the least.

And then Holy Spirit began to minister: He reminded me of a passage from a book I had actually asked my friend to lend Garth (Wild at Heart by John Eldridge; phenomenal read!).  In this passage, it explains how just as every man’s underlying question is ‘does he have what it takes?’, so every woman’s question is ‘am I worth fighting for?’.  And in that moment I realised we were both facing those very questions – I desperately needed my future husband to fight for me and his hesitancy looked like reluctance.  My continued meltdowns made him question his own strength. We were facing a battle that suddenly seemed very important – for each of us. And then Holy Spirit told me to remove my ring – not break up or even pause the wedding, but make a symbolic gesture of stepping out of the situation while He did the necessary healing.  I knew I would wear it again once Garth had been obedient and stepped into everything God had instructed, but I had no idea how long that would take. If removing it hurt, watching Garth’s face as I did so, was so much worse.

But we both had something to fight for.

Sunday morning I saw the book sitting beside my bed and noticed the sleeve was being used as a bookmark. Curious to see where Gabi had apparently stopped ready, I opened it. It was the exact chapter referring to the question with which every woman struggles. I read it and Holy Spirit once again began to minister: I thought I had found healing in this area years ago… only I hadn’t; I had simply learnt to live with the pain. I asked Garth to read the chapter and he graciously did, while holding my hand.  It was a long, vulnerable (for me) experience. When he was done, there was a new understanding of my pain in his eyes – but he still struggled with being obedient.

And that in turn made me struggle. I have lived by the principle that ‘obedience is better than sacrifice’ – that if you hear God give you an instruction: do it. Don’t delay and try ‘process’ or consider the potential consequences – obey the Father. While delaying obedience, one is simply being disobedient. And it concerned me seeing that in my future husband. So I brought the issue into the light and we began to communicate.

And something incredible happened.

As we became deliberate in establishing unity between us and reaffirming the connection in our relationship, suddenly we found ourselves encouraging one another to face the challenges ahead, even finding creative strategies to tackle the issues. It would take me a series of posts to begin explaining what happened yesterday – and maybe one day when everything is truly in the past and resolved, I will – but all I can say is I love a God who values Redemption; He alone can redeem the ugliest mess and turn things around for His good and glory. We didn’t do anything special. We simply focused our attention on Him, sought His heart in the battle and positioned ourselves under His covering – He did the rest.

What I have learnt is this: when a couple is unified under Christ, the enemy (in whatever shape or form) has no foothold. And the storms pass – and we find ourselves stronger, together. I’m wearing my ring – and don’t intend on removing it again. We’ve learnt the answers to both of our questions: God has given me a man who considers me worthy of fighting for, and he has the strength to step into the battle, with Holy Spirit (and me) beside him.

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When wedding planning sucks…

I am so very tired of people telling me to enjoy my engagement and wedding planning, like its meant to be the best time of my life. It isnt. There,I said it: I have not enjoyed this season. In fact, I have reached the point of no longer trying to hold back the tears. They just pitch up at the most random and inconvenient of times and I have learnt to be okay with that.

Everybody describes one’s wedding as “your big day” but to be honest, it hasn’t felt like my day in quite a while and its not nearly as glamorous as the movies make it out to be; I haven’t drunk copious amounts of bubbly or gone for cake tastings or any of that stuff. In fact, all it has really been is one big spreadsheet with budgets and schedules and vendor details… how much fun can admin really be?? And just when I finally thought I had this planning thing nailed, I was suddenly made aware that there are Others who have opinions and “concerns” (aka requests) that feel need to be taken into account. I tried to embrace the concept of compromise and respect… but walking the painfully thin line between accommodating and revoking their invite has left me an anxious mess. I love Jesus, but am really struggling to love people… and have a whole new level of respect for girls who go full on bridezilla (way to go girl!) Wedding planning has not been fun…

So in the middle of it, Garth and I climbed Table Mountain. To the top. There’s a reason they built a cable car… what was meant to be a 3 hour hike turned into 6+ hours, with 1km being a vertical climb of steps too high for my little legs. I struggled. And yet, throughout, I had a hand extended in my direction, literally pulling me up the side of the mountain and then being a support on the way down when my balance was wobbly. He was consistently supportive, never once complaining or speaking a word of negativity. It was only when he got me safely down, that he admitted how tough the experience had been for him. It was in that moment that everything shifted for me (once again): I was once again in awe of the man God has chosen for me to do Life with… that no matter whether he walks before-beside-behind me, his hand is always there and no matter how steep the ups (or downs), I know I can make it through anything when we face them together.

One of the things I have appreciated in this season is how my relationship with my mom has shifted. She has not only opened her heart to Garth, but has begun sharing her own experiences of being a young wife and has been sharing insights and wisdom. I have learnt so much and value each lesson. The most precious is this: always keep Garth number 1; especially when there is interference and manipulation. There are so many trivial things that can be compromised (and bigger battles that require standing your ground), but at the end of the day, when you’re facing a mountainous challenge, the only thing that matters is the hand you’re holding.

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