Joel Land is my best friend, make no mistake.
But he wasn’t when we got married.
Sometimes he said things that I didn’t think were very funny. He wore shorts that I thought belonged in an early 2000 skateboarding magazine. He had had a mullet two years prior for Pete’s sake (whoever Pete is…). I didn’t really feel like he “got” me sometimes. Or that he understood me better than anyone ever had. If your situation was like that, I am elated for you.
But I was just beginning to understand Joel when I answered “yes” to his “Will you marry me?”
In fact, anyone who was close to me at the time we got engaged will tell you that I spent weeks and months in turmoil over whether I even wanted to get married. I never heard wedding bells when we kissed and I certainly wasn’t naming our children in my journal.
I heard many times that we were made for each other.
Okay cool, but why do I sometimes have nothing to say? Why do I not feel this “click” or this overwhelming-I’m-drowning-in-love-and-it’s-consuming-me-I-never-want-to-leave-him sensation? We had been long distance for two years and honestly that worked well for us. No pressure to spend all of our time together and we couldn’t really distract each other from the current calling God had for each of us. I didn’t feel that I neeeeeded him. It wasn’t a “can’t live can’t breathe with no air, that’s how I feel whenever you ain’t there” situation. Ya feel me?
But here’s what I did know, and these are direct quotes from my journal entry from January 1st, 2013. Three months before Joel proposed. The journal entry was three pages long so I’ll paraphrase ;).
- When he meets people, he wants to really know their heart. Get to know them and make them smile.
- He loves praying for loved ones and strangers. (Is this not SUCH an attractive quality?!)
- He loves children.
- He wants to do things well.
- He doesn’t care what people think about him and is not materialistic or superficial.
- He is so handsome. (he he)
- He would challenge me. (He is not afraid to tell me when I am obnoxious or am not acting like myself. Ladies, don’t get all high and mighty. We need to be called out on our schtuff every now and then.)
- Our hearts are aligned; we have the same priorities and passions.
- He is logical when I am irrational.
- Has a heart of gold and could not hurt a fly.
- He wants to be strong for me.
- He can have intelligent conversations with people. (Ha-le-lu-jah).
- He is musical and artistic. I would love to have his artwork in our house.
Okay, he’s kind of all that and a bag of potato chips. But where was that feeling, ya know? That, I can not do life with out you feeling.
Turns out, it’s not so wise to decide who you should marry based on a feeling. Apparently those are somewhat temporary. I had lived my whole life basing my decisions off of feelings because it was easier than thinking things through.
Marrying Joel was not about marrying my best friend, or that I found the ONE person on the whole planet I could do life with. It was that I knew we’d make a great team. He would do the right thing. He would love me how I needed to be loved and I committed myself to doing the same. He was worth getting over my fears. He would make a fantastic leader for our family. He would hold me accountable for my character and my faith. And gosh darnit, I didn’t want to kiss anyone else but him ever again!
And somewhere along the way of us choosing each other, we’ve become best friends. We both believed strongly that when two selfless people hand their marriage over to God, spectacular things happen. And it’s the closest thing to magic that I’ve ever experienced. Not because it’s unbelievable, but because it is enchanting. It is beautiful and powerful. It’s freeing and yet stable and safe.
Like riding a tame horse, maybe?
So if you aren’t married yet, let this be a little reality check for you. Marriage is awesome, but don’t base your decisions on a feeling. If you’re a hopeless romantic, don’t get trapped into thinking that love and love alone will get you through all of the arguments, misunderstandings and constant inward reflection that happens in a marriage. What kind of team will you be together? Will he/she help further you in your dreams and passions? Does he/she care about the same things you do? Etc.
And then be encouraged that it is every bit as fantastic as you could hope it to be. Maybe even more.
Engagement pictures done in 2013 by Ashworth Photography