What do you hope for?
What is it you are waiting for?
What have your waited for that you finally received?
Personally, I was very content single. I had been in relationships – some good and some bad. I had done well and I even failed a little. I learned and I grew – but none of them were the best.
So, I waited. Contently.
I hoped to be married, but trusted God and refused to waste my singleness.
I do not think I did; I hope I did not.
It freed me up to move to Seattle. It freed me up to leave home behind and create the fully adult version of Jonathon Welch.
I never thought about meeting my wife there. I did not even know how long I would be there for. I had no clue what was next.
This, for a man who is always adjusting his 5 year plan was freeing and daunting. Both at the same time if that is even possible.
I was asked to live in a season of what comes next.
Hope for more.
But know nothing.
Leave it all behind to trust the unknown.
To be expectant.
In Seattle, to my unexpected surprise – I met my wife, or at least the woman a year later I would ask to marry me and spend the rest of our lives together.
It meant, my singleness was up. At long last it was over. My time in the wilderness was complete. I had hoped and expected to be married. Now, at 31, it would be so.
I knew there would be transition from bachelorhood to marriage. I knew I found my partner for life and ministry. I knew we’d be settled in the Pacific Northwest for our first 3-5 years of married life. I knew it.
My 5 year plan was back.
I knew our first year of marriage wouldn’t be perfect. Sunshine and rainbows all the time only exists in Hollywood romantic comedies. I knew it would not be easy all the time. I knew I would have to learn what it meant to be married or even a husband. I was not naive.
I mean, I am a pastor and a millennial.
I have had a front row seat to hard seasons of marriages. It is part of life. They come and they go. It just is. But I had heard about the season called the ‘honeymoon’ phase and I was excited for pure, married bliss.
I had hopes and expectations our first year of marriage would be filled with wine, chocolate, and… That we would laugh and love with deep community. That we would make a home together. That our jobs would flourish. That our relationship would thrive. That Jesus would be seen radiating from us.
I had a low bar of hope that we would finally get a year to not be in transition. That after several years of life being constantly in flux, we would actually be able to settle. To make home – together. To plant some roots.
But hopes and expectations are just that – hopes and expectations.
I do not mean to sound depressed, or passive aggressive, or even negative.
Simply, our hopes and expectations just do not always happen.
Truthfully, it is usually out of our control when they do or do not happen.
This first year of marriage was the shattering of a 5 year plan I had carefully created and crafted. It was the opposite of our hopes and dreams. It was not what we would have ever chosen for ourselves.
This year could have broke us. For a while it broke me. If you told marriage counselors our story – our year had every reason to break us. I mean, truthfully, I could imagine several times where it almost did.
Times where calling was doubted. Where we wondered if we heard and discerned God’s call properly. If somehow, we had made a mistake (with a job, not with each other). Would it have been better to say no? Did we just take the easy, low hanging fruit (even though there was nothing easy about saying yes)?
Yet, in the midst of the storms, God made us like bamboo. We bent, but despite everything thrown our way, we did not break.
God wouldn’t let us.
We thought we were getting buried and we were at a loss for how to recover – for how to dig out of the hole we found ourselves in. That others had buried us in.
But, as we look back at it now, we were not buried – God was planting us.
Planting not burying.
See, when Joseph was thrown into the well by his brothers – I am sure he thought he was buried too. But, instead, Joseph was just getting started. That well, was his planter. He was planted and not buried. It was only his beginning.
So has this last year of our life been.
It has only been the beginning of our story; we refused to let it be our ending.
Or in the immortal words of Happy Gilmore:
Now we head into year 2 and honestly, if you would have told either of us how the first year of our marriage was going to unfold last June – I can only imagine our reaction. If you would have told us we would celebrate our first anniversary with a trip to the Smokey Mountains in North Carolina – we would have figured we won a contest. If you would have told us South Carolina, the South, the East Coast, Mount Pleasant was going to be our home – we would have laughed.
But, here we are.
Today, there is no place we would rather be. We are loving every second of this adventure. We are so grateful for how God has been with us this entire year and made sure we landed not just on our feet – but healthy, in tact, and in a place that far exceeded what we could have asked for.
So year 2 – let’s do this.
Jesus, thanks for seeing us through this.
We’ve only just begun.