Giving Up the White Dress–Today at Prodigal

Update 12/27/2014: This piece originally appeared at Prodigal Magazine, which is no longer in existence. The piece in its entirety is now available here.

Today I’m sharing over at Prodigal Magazine, and it is an honor be writing there. If you’re stopping by from Prodigal, thanks for reading and for stopping by. Welcome to my little piece of the Internet, and I hope you’ll share some words with me as well.

Giving Up the White Dress

When I entered high school, I set benchmarks for myself. At first it was “Get a boyfriend by Thanksgiving.” As the holiday came and went, I pushed it back. Valentine’s Day. Christmas of the next year. Graduation.

I never met any of them.

As I started college, my mindset was one of expectation. It was a very small Christian college, and I knew that many people who went there got married while still in school or soon after.

That was my plan, too; I’d get my schooling and my guy at the same time. At graduation, I’d wear a hat and a diamond ring across the stage, and a few months or maybe a year later I’d be married.

We’d have nice jobs, buy a house, and have some kids. Life would go as I had planned, in the same path my siblings, people at church, and seemingly everyone I knew had taken.

And again, graduation came and went. No boy. No ring.

For the past year and a few months since I graduated from college, I have lived with my parents again.

I have been sleeping in the same bedroom of my middle and high school years, trying to be a grown up college graduate while eating meals my mother cooked. I am fortunate and grateful to have been able to do this, to pay off two loans while I am here, to have a few months of working full time to conserve my finances without paying rent.

But it’s time to go now.

Time to move, both physically and otherwise. So in a few weeks, I will move out of my parents’ house. But I’m finding it more difficult than the mere moving of “stuff.”

Because I expected to move from my parents’ house to my husband’s.

Instead, my cousin and I will rent a house for a year, and then I will likely move again, finding other roommates, a different house or apartment.

This isn’t just a story about singleness though.

This is a story about a garage sale Swiffer, thrift store silverware, and hand-me-down pots and pans when I expected wedding shower gifts of a Hoover, a matched set, and unscratched Teflon. I don’t need these items to be happy, for a full life, to love God well—but I had my expectations set for them.

Not in an undetermined and possibly nonexistent number of years, but now. Not as a result of things I buy for myself and maybe share with whatever roommate(s) I have at that time, but as gifts of celebration at the joining of two lives.

I expected the white dress, the handsome groom, the fit-for-a-Hallmark-movie life.

And now I am giving up the white dress.

At least in the timeline I had planned.

Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that God is gently removing the white dress from my hands, because I am not giving it up entirely willingly. Although I am happy to be moving on to something new and am excited for the adventures it will bring, when it comes down to it—it’s not what I expected.

It’s not what I had planned.

It’s not what I really wanted.

So I am having to learn to see the goodness that is here, in this unexpected “other” way my life is going.

There is much to be celebrated and enjoyed in this life of mine, but it requires looking at things in a new way—to appreciate what is instead of wishing for what is not. 

It is not wrong or ungodly of me to desire a husband, but it is wrong of me to expect it, especially in some sort of timeline set by me.

God’s job is not to meet my expectations.

Perhaps one day God will fulfill my desire for the white dress, the handsome groom, the fit-for-a-Hallmark-movie life, and perhaps he will not. It is not something I should set benchmarks for and try to achieve by a certain date.

So I am slowly releasing my expectations of the white dress, the handsome groom, and the fit-for-a-Hallmark-movie life—for any sort of life where I assume God’s job is to fulfill my expectations. Instead, I will take the life he gives me, and learn the goodness in that.

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