I always dreamt of getting engaged. Always dreamt of what it would be like – laughing, smiling, and beaming constantly as I retold the story to friends and strangers alike. But I never dreamt it would go the way it did.
Just days after Clay proposed, I had major gum surgery. When I was eight years old, I knocked out half my front tooth, and for the last 22 years it has been a difficult road of countless root canals, losing the tooth, struggling to create a temporary one that matched, being ridiculed and questioned by curious peers, cracking a newly near-perfect crown, a gum graft procedure, constant insecurity with each time I smile and laugh, countless hours spent sitting in a dentist chair and now… this.
Turns out when they placed my implant (the permanent crown) 12 years ago, cement leaked out into my gums and caused a massive infection. They had to go in (I’ll spare you the details) and clean it up. Post engagement I wasn’t out showing off my ring or recounting our engagement story but confined to the couch and struggling to eat and talk, much less laugh or smile. I had navy blue stitches strung across my mouth… for three and a half weeks. (This photo makes it look like it was a breeze… it was not. This was taken three weeks after the surgery.)
Instead of having a magical time scouting wedding venues, I was on the verge of nausea with a throbbing mouth and huge, swollen cheeks. Instead of being able to greet vendors with the ease of a smile, I had to take care to prevent my stitches from poking the insides of my lips. Instead of feeling overcome with uninhibited joy, I felt tired, sad, and hindered from enjoying this new season of engagement.
Life. It has a funny way of not always working out like we had planned. The unexpected? We can be sure it will arise.
In wedding planning, in life, and most certainly in marriage, we will be presented with the unexpected. And we will also be presented with a choice in how we will respond.
While I haven’t always handled this trial with peace, grace, and whimsy, my prayer is that this experience would help train me to do just that, especially in my future marriage – that I would be able to greet the unexpected with a smile and a laugh, that I would keep everything in the perspective of knowing the truth… that God – in all his goodness and mercy – will never give me more than I can handle (1 Cor. 1:10), that He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), and that He will walk with me through all things (Deuteronomy 31:6) – the expected and unexpected alike.
My prayer for this engagement and wedding planning season – for myself and for all those reading – as well as throughout our lives as a whole, is that we would choose to trust God, find peace, and even great joy in the unexpected. After all, He is faithful. In this difficult time, He has worked it out in his timing – not to steal my joy of being engaged – but so that I would have a wonderfully supportive companion in Clay to encourage me, help take care of me, and hold my hand through it all.
For that – and so much more – I am grateful.