As I counted down the seconds to midnight on the last day of 2019, I remember reeling with excitement for all that would come.
The anticipation grew as the clock turned to 2020; I was standing on the cusp of the most exciting adventure of my life. Michael and I had set our wedding date for May 31st at a beautiful, romantic venue nestled in the mountains of Colorado. I bought the perfect dress, we booked tickets for our honeymoon, and everything was better than I could have dreamed.
This year was going to be perfect.
But, as I am sure is true for you, my plans drastically changed.
My picture-perfect wedding became another victim of the virus currently sweeping through the world.
Michael and I first met at YWAM Furnace in New Zealand. He’s a Kiwi, and I’m from the States. When COVID-19 started causing travel bans, Michael and I were faced with a difficult decision. Do I return home and be separated from my fiancé for the foreseeable future? Or do I stay in a country that’s not my own and sacrifice my American wedding?
When the New Zealand government suddenly announced the borders were closing, I made the decision to stay with Michael.
We both cancelled our flights to the USA—for our own wedding—and chose to be together.
For the last month, we’ve been in the South Island with Michael’s family. New Zealand has some of the strictest lockdown requirements in the world, which means our normal life at YWAM Furnace was suddenly put on hold, too.
As I settled into my new “home” with my future family, I was forced to slow down. I was finally confronted with my own thoughts and feelings about everything that happened.
As friends checked in to see how I was, I brushed them off, putting on my bravest face.
It’s hard for everyone, I kept telling myself.
It is, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper one morning. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.
In the last few weeks, I started to let my walls down and begin to grieve. I used to think grief was only for people going through much harder things than me. Even though I'm not sick myself or experiencing the death of a loved one, I realised I am experiencing the “death” of a dream. And the appropriate response to death is grief.
I grieved the reunion with my family that would have taken place.
I grieved because what I envisioned my wedding day to be, will now look different.
I grieved over the inability to celebrate with my loved ones.
And I will grieve when May 31st comes and goes, because I won’t be married.
But I am not grieving without hope.
As I have processed and cried out to Jesus through this all, I felt him redirect my heart and call me to keep dreaming—even when it seems impractical.
My wedding is not ruined at all—I still will marry the love of my life in 2020.
This year still will be the beginning of my most exciting adventure. And even though it might not look the way I imagined it, I am realising the details don’t matter as much as I thought they did.
In the midst of grief, I have found myself filled with more gratitude than I ever thought possible.
I am so grateful for my health. I am grateful for the love of my fiancee. I am grateful we are able to be together in the midst of this. I am grateful that at the end of the day, we will get married, and nothing else really matters. I am grateful that God is kind enough to reset my priorities.
As I have grieved, gratitude has been my anchor. I am still able to continue hoping.
So take time to grieve the things you have lost.
Stop comparing your losses to others, even mine. Your grief is real and it matters.
But also begin to dream again.
Anchor yourself in gratitude. Jesus is faithful to restore and redeem our dreams—let’s hold onto that promise until we see it come to pass.
Photo: Alyssa & Michael's Engagement by Vivre Photography
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