I prided myself in the desire to prepare to be a wife rather a bride–meaning, I was adamant about keeping myself in check over the course of my engagement, to prepare myself for the long haul of marriage instead of fretting over napkins and other wedding day dramas. I studied specific Scriptures, I read specific books, I rested. I took time to prepare my heart in every direction. I wanted to step into marriage whole and complete and ready to present myself as a bride that could conquer the world with my partner’s hand in mine.
But, as most of those wiser than me know, marriage is a miraculous, artistically crafted, mysterious thing that is hard to fully grasp until you are resting in it. I could prepare all I want, but most of it is going out the window as soon as Will or I begin to step onto rocky, shaky, hidden wounds.
Now, I’ve only been Mrs. Kim for two (almost 3!) weeks. I have no idea what “married life” really looks like yet, because we just got back from our honeymoon about five days ago–but in our time spent becoming one, these are the things that have surprised me most about marriage:
1. Your fears don’t go away once you’re married–rather, they are resting more closely under a magnify glass. Marriage is a mirror of your own brokenness, and when you love someone so deeply, and they say that one thing that urks you, your five year old self comes out, and she’s scared and shut away and doesn’t know what to do. And all of a sudden, you can’t run and hide. You’re fully exposed, your fears are fully exposed, the little girl inside you is fully exposed and you can’t just “keep it together until you get home” because you are home now, and home is wherever he is. You can’t run from your fears or fake them gone, you must face them because now, they are impacting someone else. You must learn that morning by morning you can rest in the assurance that your home and heart are covered when the snow falls in the winter of your soul. One way I knew Will was my perfect Mr. is because he gave me the freedom to be the worst of me, the fear-filled me, the anxious me, the controlling me. And he looked at all of me, he still looks at all of me, in those moments and says “I love you Sally.” Then, I cry more.
2. Your expectations were too high. No matter how low you made yourself believe they were…they were still too high. Whether they are really unrealistic (flowers everyday) or good intentioned, you will face unmet expectations because your husband isn’t a replica of you. And, your husband’s commanding officer isn’t you–he answers to Jesus first. Shocking…you can’t (and you shouldn’t) control him.
3. The friendship is more foundational than you can imagine. We hear this all the time. And the best part of being married to Will is going to bed with him by my side, and waking up with him in the same place. When it’s time for lights out, that’s when I get giddy, filling the silence with questions and answers to my own questions, excited chatter, pinches and punches and pokes…and waking him up is just as fun because I’ve been waiting for him to wake up for at least an hour (I don’t think I’ve slept a full night since we’ve been married). I’m just too excited to be with him all the time! It’s like I’m at my first sleepover all over again, but there’s no parent to tell me to shhh…I laugh at myself more than he laughs at me in these moments, but I think he’ll appreciate it one day. Every morning (so far), we wake up laughing and drift off with fading chuckles. He’s my best friend.
4. Will can never fill my heart in places reserved for God’s healing hand. My husband is a fighter. He is on my side and defends me, speaks truth to me, and believes in me more than anyone. He’s my biggest fan; but he can’t sustain me and fill me the ways I need to be filled up daily. Like the manna the Lord dropped for the Israelites daily, the one that faded at the days end, I need daily renewal in the Lord. I need daily new joy, and grace, and all those good fruits He knows I need–because Will can strengthen those and challenge me to work at them and point me to Jesus, but he can never create them.
And at the end of the day, I still get butterflies when I see his ring on his finger. And now, in this sacred moment, I remind myself that I need to remind myself daily that he is a gift-a gift I waited and prayed and prepared for; a treasure entrusted to me for life. Yes, the flowers and words all opened me to receive this gift, but it’s the daily life of companionship, of healing together, and choosing each other that is the true love story we are embarking on. Every adventure we embark on together, every night we laugh ourselves to sleep, it’s our friendship that sustains us when the flower petals fall and life stenches of realness.
And, the most important lesson for me, was that it was all worth the wait. All the tears, the questions, the heartbreak and confusion–they built in me a hope of what was to come. And he was worth the wait.
Sally Rae Kim