before & after (part 1)

As most of you probably know, I recently got married. Two and a half months ago, to be exact. Yeah, I know, it's pretty exciting. After beginning to plan a wedding and realizing the gigantic emotional and financial toll it was going to take, Nick and I decided on a planned elopement and had the most incredible day: 

Yesterday my husband and I (still getting used to that word!) found ourselves with a free afternoon so we took a little trip down to Rattlesnake Lake, right at the base of the mountain where we got married. It was an idyllic summer day filled with swimming, sunbathing at the water's edge with book in hand, and amazing conversation. The mountain loomed above us, and several times I caught myself glancing upward at the exact peak where we had pranced around during our wedding day a little less than three months ago.

photo by Benj Haisch

photo by Benj Haisch

As the afternoon wore on, Nick and I decided to find the precise location we had said our vows in the forest at the base of the mountain. As we made our way to The Spot we were both quiet, and upon reaching the tree, stood there looking at it, remembering. The forest felt different; the summer heat left a stark contrast to the fresh spring rain we experienced a few months before. We stood on hallowed ground, in this space we had committed to spending our lives together. Hikers pass by this tree every day, never thinking anything of it, and here we were, drinking in the memories and our marital splendor while getting lost in our own thoughts. We didn't say much, but we knew what the other was thinking: the mysterious veil has been lifted. We know now what we did not know then. Not a bad thought but a sobering one.

Marriage is simultaneously the most amazing and the most difficult thing I have ever experienced, and I highly recommend it. 

This blog post is a two-parter. As summer surges on, I learn more and more about what it means to be a wife and Godly spouse, submitting myself humbly like Christ submitted to the church.  Let me put this plainly: I have a long ways to go. Like any girl, I yearned and dreamed of marriage my whole life. Partly to get that big beautiful wedding but mostly to find my prince charming, my life counterpart, my companion who loves me for exactly who I am. Now that I actually am married, I can't help but laugh a little bit. Marriage isn't about that at all. It's actually quite the opposite: loving and serving your spouse, a flawed person who can be difficult to love at times... unconditionally. Your goal can't be what you get out of it but what you can give, and get this, it's a lifelong commitment. If I'm in a bad mood and want to bask in my snarky attitude, I can't. It affects somebody else now.

So this blog post is about my past life, before I became a Mrs. The life where marriage was my idol. On Monday I'll share what God has done in my heart since getting married and how He is completely transforming my life. Seemed fitting to start off my brand new blog with a bang!

I'm a classic daddy issues girl. Having grown up with a provisional (and Godly) but extremely emotionally distant father who never told me I was loved or beautiful, I found I got the attention I was so desperate for in boys. Starting at the age of 17 I was a serial dater, forming relationships with just about anybody so long as they thought I was beautiful. One time a bunch of guys asked to take a photo with me in the mall (this was back in my dreaded bleached blonde tanning booth days) and I thought I had hit the lottery - a bunch of random men thought I was attractive? Even more important than the physical attention was the emotional attention. I gave my heart (and my body) to a different "serious" boyfriend every year, convinced they were the "right one for me." I was so obsessed with finding a husband that I played pretend married life with many men, numbing and simultaneously feeding the hidden pain residing deep within my heart. When one guy didn't work out the next one would be right there. My Dad still makes jokes about all the "broken hearts left in Laura's wake."

Sure, I knew God during all this. I've been a Christian my entire life, learning how to trust God and follow Him. But this issue of acceptance was always a deep internal struggle. I couldn't find contentment within myself, within God. He had saved me from my sins, but who would save me from the pain raging in my heart? Marriage is the answer, said the world. Marriage is the answer, said pop culture. Marriage is the answer, said my parents. Marriage is the answer, said the church. 

So I sought a husband. Instead of the happiness I was promised, for years all I got was a deeply wounded heart, bleeding from the devastation my obsession had waged. I had hurt others and been hurt countless times. I served an idol.

By the time I moved to Seattle last summer and started dating Nick, I had been single for awhile. I had finally allowed my heart room to breathe, and subsequently, heal. We fell in love instantaneously, and this time, it was the real thing. Less than a year later we were married. We've traveled all over the world together, have dreams to eventually open a business together, and both feel incredibly blessed at the life God has given us and the supernatural way He has brought us together. They say the perfect person comes along right when you stop looking, and I've found that to be true. God gave me an amazing husband, so that must mean I'm ready for one... that my heart has been healed, right?

Contrary to popular belief (or at least my subconscious belief), the wounds of your heart don't go away the moment you become a bride. 

To learn what life has looked like for me since I've become a Mrs., be sure to check out part 2 of this series on Monday morning. 

xo LLV