It was the day after New Year's and Leighton and I, with our friends John and Kate, spent the day hiking in Colorado. As we summited the mountain, I was naturally fumbling around in my camera bag and getting ready to take pictures of the spectacular view. I heard Leighton calling me over to the edge of the mountain. He got down on one knee, said something (I'm assuming in English) but I couldn't understand a word because I was so overwhelmed with happiness. The altitude made my hands all puffy, but we shoved the ring on anyway. Our adventure had officially begun.
For two months afterward, we soaked in what being engaged felt like. We celebrated with our families, I let people hold my hand to look at my ring (I'm not a touchy person so this was a big deal) and we enjoyed being in a new stage of our relationship. We were intentional about how we handled our engagement. We weren't engaged to start planning a wedding, we were just simply engaged. We were getting ready to start our lives together, connect our families and learn even more about each other.
But eventually, the planning with all of the meetings, fittings, and Pinterest-ing began. We talked colors, tasted cakes (best part everrrrr) and chose vendors. I designed and hand-lettered the invitations and we planned all of the details.
On September 3rd, Leighton and I committed to love each other completely and faithfully for the rest of our lives. We were surrounded by colorful light streaming in through the stained-glass windows of the church and a crowd of witnesses supporting us as we made our vows to each other.
September 3rd was the start of something, not the end of something. All weddings are that way. It's not about beautiful centerpieces, the perfect dress, or expensive food. We didn't wait for 9 months just to *end* at September 3rd. We *began* at September 3rd. It was the launching pad. The runway. It was the starting block of our marriage and where all of it begins. After all, September 3rd was given 24 hours, just like September 4th and 5th and all of the days afterward. I didn't plan my wedding because we were too busy planning for our marriage.
Don't get me wrong, it's *fun* to put time and effort into a day that's meant to serve your spouse and the families and friends who are coming. We were so blessed by my family in that we were able to have a beautiful wedding. We had forests of flowers and delicious food and an amazing creative team documenting our day. We reveled in the fact that so many people came to celebrate our union.
But my favorite part of those months from January-September was being counseled by our pastor, Dustin, and his wife, Catherine, from Heritage Bible Church. We shared the detail of our fears about marriage. We dug into our inadequacies and our shortcomings and how our pasts could influence our future. But we had a deep desire to live godly lives within marriage. We spent time praying for our families and our guests, that during our wedding they would feel the presence of God and be drawn to Him.
When Leighton and I got married, we married each other's dreams, talents, and families. We also married all the annoying habits and the tendencies toward selfishness. We are two and a half months into marriage and are still figuring things out. Like how Leighton wants to wash the dishes right after dinner and I'd rather ignore them until morning. Or how I chronically hit the snooze button and Leighton wakes up completely alert and ready to start the day (I literally don't think I'll ever understand that.) Our goodbyes have changed from taillights in the distance as one of us drove away to simply flicking off the light switch and rolling over to "our" side of the bed.
I cannot begin to describe the importance of sharing what Jesus has done in our lives. We had 9 months to prepare for what life is like on the other side of September 3rd. Jesus aligns my eyes to focus on the details of who Leighton is, how I can best love him, and how I can become a better wife, daughter, and friend. Our marriage is filled with mission and God has given us purpose within it so we can proclaim His grace and goodness as we pursue Christ and love others. Together. This, all of this, was never about a wedding. It's about so *so* much more than that.